Go behind the scenes with SI.com's Arash Markazi whoâs âOn The Scene,â writing a regular journal from anywhere and everywhere about anything and everything.
7/28/2006 11:22:00 AM
Change, Change, Change
USC coach Pete Carroll was not smiling when he heard about the new rule changes in college football this season.
As coaches chomped away at their plates of chicken parmigiana and salad after Pac-10 media day, it didn’t take much to ruin their appetite. All it took were three hyphenated numbers and a letter, or more specifically, NCAA Rule 3-2-5-e, which is the new rule that states that the game clock will begin as soon as an official marks the ball ready for play after a change of possession.
“It doesn’t make any sense,” said Oregon coach Mike Bellotti. “It’s the most dramatic rule change that I can remember and I have yet to find someone who likes it. It will change the football game significantly, more than people think. It’s going to limit and shorten the game which I don’t think needs to be done and it takes away your opportunities at the end of the game to get as many plays in and comeback if you’re behind. Nobody will claim responsibility for wanting to change the rules and shorten the game – not TV, not the coaches, not the administrators – so it’s one of those mystery deals I guess.”
Before the rule change, the clock wouldn’t start until the ball was snapped after a kickoff or interception. Now, offensive units will have to rush onto the field near the end of the half or the game as the clock will start as soon as the ball is put in play by the official. Coaches fear those precious few seconds lost during the ball being put down by the official to the ball being snapped to the quarterback will make it virtually impossible to throw up a ‘Hail Mary’ pass if they get the ball back with less than four seconds.
“We’re still not sure when they’re going to start the clock,” said Washington State coach Bill Doba. “Are they going to wait until both teams are on the field and ready to go, or can one team take their time and let the clock run? So you’re really at the mercy of the officials now. It will certainly affect our two-minute drill. I don’t like the rule. They’re trying to shorten the game and I ask, ‘Why?’ I don’t get it.”
Another rule change the coaches were against was the new video replay rule which says a coach can challenge one play per game and if they are wrong they are docked a timeout. “The coaches’ challenge doesn’t help us because we have no video replay units up in the booth,” said Bellotti, noting that video monitors in the booth are not allowed in college as they are in the NFL. “So it’s the same thing you and I see on the field and I don’t think that’s worth a timeout…As a coach, I’m appalled by the rule changes. It will change the game as we know it. It changes a lot of strategies. And I can’t find anyone who likes these rules. I hope they are overturned next year.”
The final rule change that had the coaches up in arms was the new kickoff rule which says the clock will start when the kicker’s foot touches the ball, not when the returning team touches the ball. “If you got a kid who can kick it out of the end zone and you’re ahead with four seconds to go, the game’s over,” says Doba. “If they start the clock when you kick the ball, you won’t have a chance to touch the ball.”
Besides disliking the rule changes, the coaches were still confused at how and why the rules were passed to shorten the game. Many argued that if there was one sport where fans wouldn’t mind having an extra few minutes of game time, it would be college football; where fans tailgate and party for days and plan year-round for the handful of home games they will attend.
“I don’t like the rules. I think it’s a joke,” said Arizona State coach Dirk Koetter. “College football is an all day event. Fans wait all year for our game. Who said we were trying to shorten the game? Who came out with this national statement saying that we’re trying to make college football like the NFL? We’re not the NFL. We’re college football. This game has worked fine for over 100 years and now they are making major rule changes that affects 18-percent of all plays. I don’t get it and I don’t like it.”
Other coaches brought up the fact that the shortening of the game will also affect records, since offensive players won’t get as many touches as their predecessors. “The records are going to different now that the clock is shorter,” said USC coach Pete Carroll. “There are going to be less plays and you won’t have as many chances to throw the ball. If we threw the ball an average of 38 times a game, that number might be 32 times this year. That’s six passes, or 50 passes a year and stuff like that can start to effect records. Everything will start to be asterisked. Is it astristicked? Asterisked? Whatever, it’s a sad situation.”
Tiger Woods basking in the glow of his second consecutive British Open win.
You already know what sports editors and producers think is the top sports story this morning. It’s clearly Tiger Woods winning his 11th major championship at the British Open, and his first title without his father, Earl, who succumbed to cancer two months ago. Nestled somewhere on the front page of sports pages and websites is “the other” big story of the day, Floyd Landis, overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds, to become only the third American to win the Tour de France. But what do you think is the bigger story?
On one hand you have Tiger Woods, who after clinching the British Open, cried uncontrollably as he embraced his caddie, Steve Williams, and later, his wife, Elin. It was a rare show of emotion for Woods, who a month after missing his first cut at a major, became the first golfer to win back-to-back British Opens in nearly 25 years. "After the last putt, I realized my dad's never going to see this again, and I wish he could have seen this one last time," said Woods at the trophy presentation. "He was out there today keeping me calm."
Floyd Landis toasting his first Tour De France win and the eighth straight for the U.S.
On the other hand you have Floyd Landis, who has an arthritic right hip that needs surgery, coming back to win the Tour de France after being in 11th place and over eight minutes behind the leader just three days earlier. Landis’ remarkable turnaround after falling so far behind, so late in the Tour was so impressive that race director Jean-Marie Leblanc, who has overseen the Tour de France for the past 18 years, called it "the best performance in the modern history of the Tour."
On most any given Sunday, Landis’ win in one of the most prestigious sporting events in the world would be the top story, but there was no way he was going to overcome the popularity of Tiger Woods and his emotional win some 400 miles away. It would have been like coming back from an over 8-hour deficit in the Alps. It just wasn’t happening. That being said, what did you think was the biggest sports story on Sunday?
Mariah Carey is just one of many preformers bringing the heat this summer.
Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Besides the amazing weather, relaxing vacations and blockbuster movies; summers are defined by the songs blasting out of your radio or iPod during the months of June, July and August. Now that we’re over halfway through the Summer of 2006, I thought now would be a good time to throw out my list of the Sweet Sixteen Summer Songs of 2006 and see which one you think will win the honorary “Song of Summer” title, joining the ranks of Sisqo’sThong Song (2000), Katrina and the Waves’Walking on Sunshine (1985), Chicago’sSaturday in the Park (1972) and The Lovin’ Spoonful’s Summer in the City (1966).
“Welcome to Phoenix, where the temperature outside is a dry 120 degrees.”
I’m not sure there is any word in the English language you can place before “120 degrees” that would make it bearable. I don’t care if it’s dry, wet or somewhere in the middle, 120 degrees is still 120 degrees. I find myself in the desert, appropriately enough, to talk to one of basketball’s most famous nomads, Paul Westhead. The man who guided the Los Angeles Lakers to their first NBA championship of the Showtime era and rewrote the NCAA record books at Loyola Marymount is now coaching the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury. For the first time in his 30-year career the “Guru of Go” is trying to see if “Paul Ball” can work in the women’s game. The full story will be online soon, but being in the desert wasn’t the hottest part of my week.
No, that honor would go to having dinner with the lovely Jenn Sterger at Hooters when I got back home to a much cooler Santa Monica. Now, Hooters wasn’t my idea, apparently Jenn shares my appreciation for beer, big screens and Hooters…chicken wings. I returned the favor by taking her to a WNBA game the next night. I know, I know, it’s not the hottest spot to take a Cowgirl, but it was courtside and Sparks President Johnny Buss (son of Lakers owner Jerry Buss) hooked us up with passes to the exclusive Chairman’s Room after the game where we rubbed elbows with Penny Marshall and Wanda Sykes. OK, so it’s wasn’t Jack Nicholson and Leonardo DiCaprio but whatever, give me break, I’m no Richard Hoffer and she’s no Tyra Banks, at least not yet anyway. But she’s working on it. This girl is seriously always at, going to, or coming from a meeting. That is, of course when she isn’t dancing on bars in lingerie. I’m still holding out hope for a Britney Spears-Jason Alexander-like 48-hour ‘just for the hell of it’ marriage when we meet up in Vegas. You know, nothing serious, just something that might get me mentioned in her E! True Hollywood Story years from now.