Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Overtime Debate

I just read this article in which Don Banks and Peter King debate the NFL's overtime rules.  I've actually emailed in my comments to them a couple of times about this, but never heard anything about it. Here's what I think:

1) Peter King mentions several times that the current OT rules are unfair because, in roughly a third of all OT games, the team that wins the coin flip scores on the first possession. Therefore, winning the coin flip is too much of an advantage.
I think this is goofy! If you want to figure out if the coin flip is an advantage, you should be looking at the percentage of teams that win the coin flip that go on to win OT. If that number is much more than 50%, then you can say that there's a problem.

2) I believe that there's an easy solution to take away the advantage of the coin flip. It works under the same principle that you'd use when you have 2 kids that want to share a cookie. In the cookie scenario, you have one kid cut the cookie in half and let the other kid choose who gets which half. In OT, one team gets to choose the spot of the opening possession (yardline and direction). The other team then gets to choose whether they want to start on offense or defense. The winner of the coin flip chooses who gets to make which decision. Simple!
So if a team wins the coin toss and really wants the ball, they can get it...but they may end up starting at their own 5 yard line going into a headwind!

I really don't know why no one has ever brought this idea up, it just seems so obvious to me. I have to assume that there's at keast one sportswriter or coach out there who's had to make his kids share a cookie.


Tim P. said...

I agree with your 1st point, but I'm puzzled by the 2nd one. So if you were the coach and you got to decide the yard line and direction only, but not possession, what would you choose?

BigKat said...

The way I look at it is like this. Obviously, if the ball was placed at the 50 yard line, it would be a no-brainer to pick offense first. At the same time, if the ball was spotted at the 1 yard line (99 yards away from a TD) going into a headwind, it would be a pretty automatic choice to pick defense first. The point where the choice is more of a 50/50 is somewhere in between.

So you would have to pick a spot where no matter what the other coach picked (offense or defense), you'd be ok with either choice.

Maybe you choose the 10 yard line. If the other coach chooses defense, you think 'That's fine. It's not very good field position, but we get the ball first'. But if he chooses offense, then you say 'That's fine. They've got a long way to go to get into field goal range. We have a good chance of getting the ball back with very good field position.