The rules makers have helped, too, to provide more scoring opportunities. Although this year's changes are not nearly so drastic or dramatic as those adopted in 1958, when the two-point conversion became part of college football, they indicate that the coaches, or at least those who make up the NCAA Rules Committee, are keenly aware of changing times.
Although reluctant to return to unlimited substitutions and the two-platoon system, the Rules Committee made two important changes affecting the traffic on and off the field. First, they increased the number of time-outs from four to five per half for each team. Then they came up with the "wild card" substitute, who will be permitted to re-enter a game whenever the clock is stopped (except for an injury) without being recorded by the officials. Under the old rules, a player was not permitted to re-enter a game more than twice during a half without incurring a penalty for his team.
How will this help the offense? It means that a coach will now be able to send in a key quarterback, a fresh tackle, a kicking specialist or even a lineman carrying instructions from the bench whenever time is out. The rule will make possible more manipulating of personnel and thus increase the development of offensive specialists, who will further open up the game.
Another change, and possibly the most radical one, was the widening of the goal posts from 18 feet 6 inches to 23 feet 4 inches with the hope that the increased area will stimulate field goal kicking. The legislators resisted all attempts to copy the pros and put the posts on the goal line and offered the "wide look" as a compromise.
However, there seems to be a difference of opinion about the advantages to be gained by having an extra 4 feet 10 inches to aim at. Oddly enough, the coaches themselves are doing the most growling. They argue, and rightly so, that distance and not width is the problem. As one coach put it, "If the gun you have won't carry to the elephant, it won't help to make the elephant any bigger."
Despite the lack of unanimity, the wider posts should serve to encourage field goal attempts from inside the 25-yard line and help to make the point after touchdown, where accuracy and not distance is the determining factor, easier to achieve. Kicking conversions will be almost automatic and, paradoxically, there may be more gambling for the two points by running or passing after touchdown. Perhaps the coaches will now spend more time developing bigger guns.
Speaking of coaches, there will be a lot of new faces as a result of the annual off-season game of musical chairs. For one reason or another, many old familiar names have disappeared from the scene, and their places have been taken by bright new hopefuls, many of whom will find themselves occupying uncomfortable seats in pressure-filled spots.
To mention a few who have taken on large assignments, there is Dale Hall, who succeeded his retired chief, Earl Blaik, at Army: Wayne Hardin, gifted Navy backfield coach who moved up to replace Eddie Erdelatz; Joe Kuharich, who left the Washington Redskins to return to Notre Dame as successor to Terry Brennan; Bump Elliott, the former Wolverine who will try to re-establish Michigan's former glory; John Bridges at Baylor; Sonny Grandelius at Colorado; Tommy Nugent, who moved from Florida State (where he was replaced by Perry Moss) to Maryland; Jim Hickey at North Carolina; Alva Kelley at Colgate; John McLaughry, who brings his side-saddle T to Brown; Ed Doherty at Xavier of Cincinnati; Lisle Blackbourn, the old Green Bay Packer coach, at Marquette; Jim Miller at Detroit; Jim La Rue at Arizona; Tally Stevens at Brigham Young; and Otto Graham, who makes his coaching debut at the Coast Guard Academy.
So, College Football 1959, with its new faces, wide-open offenses, "wild card" substitutes and wider goal posts, promises to be a spectacle that will bring us a lot of fun watching, once again.