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A modest proposal for a shocking innovation which is completely within the rules but which would, if adopted, revolutionize college football

I call it defense.

The idea- crazy as it may sound- is to supplement the scoring of points by your offense with an attempt to stop the other team from scoring them. Yeah, I know.  Really "out there," isn't it? But it has a history of winning not only games but championships. Modern college teams should try it more.

I'm a bit bummed about the Rose Bowl outcome but amused by the score. It seems that certain conferences aren't sure whether they're playing college football or high school basketball! I've noticed that in the scores of Sooner games. Last season the nation's college teams set a record by scoring an average of slightly more than 30 points each per game. That's a lot. Historically, that's a REAL lot.

The final score of the Rose Bowl was 54-48, though to be fair that was in double overtime. But to get there, the teams had to be tied 45-45 at the end of regulation! Last year was even worse. Southern Cal beat Penn State 52-49- in regulation!

By contrast, here are the scores of the first ten Rose Bowls of my lifetime. I'm not even going to go back earlier than that :

1951 Michigan 14, Cal 6
1952 Illinois 40, Stanford 7
1953 Southern Cal 7, Wisconsin 0
1954 Michigan State 28, UCLA 20
1955 Ohio State 20, Southern Cal 7
1956 Michigan State 17, UCLA 14
1957 Iowa 35, Oregon State 10
1958 Ohio State 10, Oregon 7
1959 Iowa 38, Cal 10
1960 Washington 44, Wisconsin 8
1961 Washington 17, Minnesota 7

Scoring in the Rose Bowl really didn't really start rising until the 'Nineties; before that, while it wasn't all that unusual for one team to score forty or even fifty points, those games were always blowouts in which the other team scored a very few or none at all. The 2017 Rose Bowl was the only one played between the Big Ten and the Pac 12 featuring one of those basketball scores that have become more and more common in college football.

In the first NFL season in which I was alive (to sound like a curmudgeonly old fart, when football really was worth watching), the average NFL team scored 22.5 points per game. This past season, the average was 21.7! There have actually been eleven seasons during that time (most recently in 1993) in which the average score per game for an NFL team has been fewer than twenty points!

The trend in football generally has been toward more of an offensive orientation. Even in the NFL, passing has more and more become the name of the offensive game. A pity. In this respect, perhaps, I have a European soul; unlike most Americans, I am bored to death by high-scoring games. Perhaps that (well, along with the fact that Chicago didn't have an NBA team, the fact that our local college teams were so terrible when I was young, and the fact my parents essentially conducted their courtship at Hawks games using season tickets Dad had held almost from the founding of the league) is why I've never been able to get excited about basketball, and least of all by the NBA. A buzzer-beater in the final instant of a 114-113 NBA game may produce one thrill. But great saves by the goalie and shots that hit the crossbar and the posts provide many more, and bigger ones, in a 2-1 hockey game. And I suppose that being a fan of a pro football team with a history of great running backs like Nagurski and Grange and Gallimore and Sayers and Payton, and whose greatest of many great seasons was driven by the most devastating defense in pro football history plays a part, too.

But, guys, the trend toward college football games with basketball scores is cheapening the game and watering down the thrills. Back-and-forth games may have an appeal of their own. But the harder points are to get, the more getting them means- and the greater thrill it is even to come close, and miss.

I'm going to conclude this tirade with a video of one of my favorite movie scenes. It's from "Hearts from Atlantis." In it, Sir Anthony Hopkins as Ted Brannigan tells a story which illustrates my point.

The game he describes actually was the one which clinched the 1943 Western Division championship for the Bears. The following week the Bears actually won the NFL championship, beating the Washington Redskins 41-21. Nagurski scored a touchdown in that game, too. But it's the week before that we remember.

1943 was also the year in which the Bears' last great quarterback, Sid Luckman, had a 107.5 quarterback rating. He set several NFL records which still stand today, including yards per attempt (10.9), yards per completion (19.9), and touchdown percentage (13.9) He also claimed a piece of an eight-way tie for the most touchdown passes in a single game with seven.

But Sir Anthony Hopkins never did a soliloquy about Sid Luckman.



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