Update November 29th: Max hall apologizes for postgame tirade; updated post HERE.
One of the NCAA's innovations with which I strongly disagreed was the implementation of their "socialist overtime" scheme in which each team gets an equal offensive opportunity in overtime instead of the sudden-death scheme used by the NFL. On November 28th, 2009, the BYU Cougars defeated the Utah Utes 26-23 in overtime, but if sudden-death rules had been used, Utah would have won, 23-20. Primary media stories from ESPN (with stats), KSL Channel 5, the Deseret News, and the Provo Daily Herald. Read the KSL Game Blog HERE.
TCU had already sewed up the Mountain West Conference title, so the Utah-BYU game would merely determine second place. Both teams are already bowl-bound, although specific pairings have yet to be determined. The game was scheduled for Provo, and BYU was thirsting for revenge after the 48-24 thumping they received from the Utes in Salt Lake City in 2008. Many Utahns actually take sides; some who like BYU can't stand Utah, and some who root for Utah can't stomach BYU. More about the fan rivalry HERE. The rivalry even extends to the players; after the game, BYU QB Max Hall ripped Utah and its fans, saying “I don’t like Utah. In fact, I hate them. I hate everything about them... The whole university and their fans and the organization is classless. They threw beer on my family and stuff and did a bunch of nasty stuff. I don’t respect them.”
Utah drew first blood in the first quarter Utah, jumping out to a 6-0 lead thanks to a pair of field goals by junior kicker Joe Phillips. But the second quarter belonged to BYU as Mitch Payne first connected with a 28-yard field goal to make it 6-3, then after a 43-yard punt return by O'Neill Chambers down to the Utah 7, Harvey Unga powered it into the end zone from two yards out to make it 10-6. Mitch Payne then capped the first half scoring with a 37-yard field goal to make it 13-6.
Early in the third quarter, Manase Tonga ran it in from one yard out to give the Cougars a 20-6, after which it settled down into a defensive struggle. As the third quarter progressed deep into the fourth quarter, BYU fans began to celebrate. Then Utah struck back. First, Joe Phillips kicked a 31-yard field goal to cut the lead to 20-9. Then Eddie Wide barreled up the middle from a yard out to make it 20-15. Time for a gamble - take the one-point chip shot and make it a 4-point game, which would require a touchdown to overcome, or go for the two-point conversion. Utah gambled, and freshman quarterback Jordan Wynn connected with David Reed for a two-point conversion, making it 20-17. Only a field goal would be necessary to tie the game and send it into overtime, and the Utes got one from 40 yards out by Joe Phillips with only 29 seconds left in regulation.
Utah drew first blood in overtime when Phillips kicked his fifth field goal of the game from 29 yards away to make it 23-20. If sudden-death rules were in effect, the Utes would be celebrating. But because of the NCAA's "socialist overtime" rules, BYU was entitled to a chance on offense. From excellent field position on the Utah 25, Andrew George caught the pass from Max Hall and ran into the end zone from 25 yards out to win the game for the Cougars. So BYU is now celebrating.
The Cougars finish second in the MWC with a 7-1 record, 10-2 overall, while Utah finishes third at 6-2, 9-3 overall. But even with today's BYU victory, Utah still leads the series, 53-34-4.
What's wrong with the NCAA's overtime rules? In 2002, Salon described them succinctly as "a crock, a bastardization of real football, a victory for the everybody-gets-a-trophy culture...". Specifically, it nearly removes special teams, which can play a huge role in regulation, from the equation. There are still field goals, but they can only win the game if the first team to have the ball has failed to score. Place kicking doesn't have the all-consuming importance it takes on at the end of regulation or in sudden death. The format also distorts statistics. In the longest game to date, Arkansas' 58-56 win over Mississippi in seven OTs (each pair of possessions is one overtime), Eli Manning of Ole Miss threw five touchdown passes in overtime, and that final score didn't reflect the defensive flavor of the game, which was 17-17 after four quarters.
Socialism has also infected pro soccer. Recently, Real Salt Lake, with a mediocre 11-12-7 regular season record, "won" the MLS championship in overtime on penalty kicks. How can you take pride in that type of "victory"? That's like deciding a basketball game with a free-throw shooting contest, or a baseball game with a home-run hitting contest.
There's no place for socialism in sports.