It started Dec. 20 with the Eagle Bank Bowl in Washington D.C. It ended Jan. 8 with the Bowl Championship Series title game in Miami. Thirty-four bowls over 20 days.
Bowl games, with an emphasis on commercial time and enhanced halftime shows, are among the longest events of a season. The 2008 postseason didn't disappoint, even with the use of the 40/25-second clock.
Marty Couvillon of cfbstats.com has been tracking the 40/25-second clock rule, which was enacted before the start of the 2008 season in an attempt shorten games. The Football Rules Committee took action after the average length of a game reached 3:23 in 2007.
The rule appeared to have worked, with the average game this past season reduced to 3:12. But when it came to bowl games, the average event lasted 3:26, only about a minute shorter than the 2007 postseason. All the games but one — the EagleBank Bowl between Navy and Wake Forest — were over 3 hours, with the Alamo Bowl between Missouri and Northwestern and Gator Bowl between Nebraska and Clemson pushing 4 hours.
The 40/25 rule also resulted in the loss of 8.58 plays and 2.69 points in an average game. But only a few coaches raised a stink about the loss of plays and points and the 40/25 rule is likely here to stay. The question is, will the Football Rules Committee try to trim even more time from games with another set of rules when it meets next month? This seemingly could be accomplished only by trimming more plays, resulting in less scoring.
Those who have followed this blog for a number of years know our stance on all of this. For those newbies, here it is in a nutshell: There's nothing wrong with the game. The problem is the increased commercialization. Cut the commercials and you'll see the length of games reduced dramatically.
We know that's not going to happen, but there has to be a happy medium. One prediction we will make: If the rules stay as they are, expect the time of games to begin to climb again toward the 2007 level as networks cram more and more commercials into telecasts.
A look at the average number of plays and time of a game for the past four seasons.
G Plays/G Time/G Pts/G
2005 717 140.71 3:21 52.61
2006 792 127.53 3:07 47.53
2007 792 143.42 3:23 55.37
2008 770 134.84 3:12 52.68
Bowls 34 137.35 3:26 50.29