One of my goals in life is to have a Radiolab type podcast where all I do is research crazy rule origins. I love that so much of this stuff comes from things not unlike that game you and your buddies made up after way too many beers. You know, the one where you have to throw the ball off the tree into a bucket and points are ascribed by how close you get. Oh, and there's that weird rule where if you bounce it off the grass - yes, you're using a bocce ball - you get a grand slam and a chance to make it a double or nothing... You didn't play that game? Oh, well, you at least get the point.
The Extra Point seems to be one of those rules. According to our good friend Wikipedia, the extra point has been around since the beginning and not surprisingly, it's probably part of the Rugby to Football conversion in general. While it seems to be that you used to live for the free kick, now it just seems a little outdated. The NFL recently discussed getting rid of it altogether - or at least doing something crazy - and I'm here to discuss if the college game should follow suit. After all, it does seem all a little academic now, and if we're really trying to reduce a bunch of collisions in game, maybe we just get rid of it? Let's discuss.
In Defense of the Extra Point
- Tradition - Since this is a B1G site and our conference likes to represent #tradition unlike any other conference, this is a good place to start. Like I said in the beginning, the extra point has been a part of the fabric of football since the beginning, and really probably explains the term football. While the old, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," seems apt in this situation, it almost goes a step further. From a simply strategic POV, why nix something that has been a part of the sport because it's inconvenient?
- Kickers are people too - So part of the hilarity of the athleticism that is football is realizing that a game hinges on a 18-22 year old kid who is either super tiny or Sebastian Janakowski huge to kick a ball through two steel goalposts for the win. Those who wish to get rid of the extra point seem to be okay with Field Goals, so why not give Kickers the opportunity to at least have some skin in the game every scoring play? Look, it's almost anachronistic to see a Kicker in today's game where 300 lb defensive ends are jumping over five feet in the air, but it's also one of the joys of the game. Game winning extra points? Even better! Oh, and this is college. #CollegeKickers is always in play, so that's fun.
- Strategy - Honestly, the way the game is setup now, do you just automatically give seven points to a team if they score and then an extra point if they go for a regular play? Do you just make it six points and now games are harder to get out of reach? Do you force the two point conversion and make it six or eight points every time? I'm not opposed to scoring changes - in theory - but you're completely upending a century of football strategy because, "I am inconvenienced by this stupid play." That seems dumb.
In defense of axing the Extra Point
- It's meaningless - Okay, so even though #CollegeKickers is fun to think about, the reality is that last year, college kickers still converted 97.1% of extra points. That's just mindbogglingly consistent. I would argue that most of that 2.9% of missed kicks is on the long snapper or holder, too. Sure, that's still a miss, but of the 98 kickers who cfbstats.com registered as taking an XP attempt, 39 of them hit 100% with nobody really missing more than 3. You can't tell me we'd miss much if we just were all like, "hey, you can just take that extra point and let's go straight to the kickoff." This leads me to my next thought...
- It's such a literal waste of time - For real, you score a touchdown and then you have this weird part where it's all like, "Now we gotta trot out the kicker," and that takes time, then you get a timeout because TV! Then you come back for the kickoff and return. Then, and this is just the worst, LOL TV TIMEOUT AGAIN! We could save an entire TV break if we just were all like, "HERE'S YOUR POINT, NOW GO KICKOFF THE GAME!" I do realize that the fascination with going for two is there as well and we're losing some drama, but I'm prepared to say you either get to take the extra point - kind of like what happens when I simulate the play on NCAA 2014 - or you risk that point for a chance at 2. Tell me this solution doesn't work easier + it makes coaches do something interesting (also, how many times would Ferentz not take the free point? I feel like that betting line would be the best preseason prop bet ever.)
- It's unnecessary danger - Okay, football is probably unnecessary danger, but like I stated above, if we're starting to try and curb head and brain trauma, shouldn't we take the easy route and eliminate 5-10 plays each game where linemen and other players are throwing their bodies full force at each other with little on the line? With so much more coming out about the impact of those repetitive hits being as problematic - or more problematic - than the huge 'I speared you with my head in your head' hits, wouldn't we want to take this time to stop things from going out of control?