|COLLEGE FOOTBALL PACKAGE: When is enough enough? Sometimes it's not a simple answer|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 19 September 2007 12:27|
Scoring six touchdowns in about the time it takes to fry an egg, Rutgers had turned its game against Norfolk State into the blowout everyone expected.|
Leading 45-0, the Scarlet Knights wanted more, so coach Greg Schiano called three timeouts late in the first half to try to get the ball back.
The strategy didn't work and Norfolk State was able to get to the locker room without further damage. As for Schiano, he was forced to explain himself later.
``If your starters are in there, you play the game the way you coach it,'' he said during his postgame news conference Saturday. ``The first half of a football game, you better teach your team to play the way you preach to them to play. You better coach that way, too.
``I'm comfortable, very comfortable with the way we went about it.''
It's a question as old as college football itself: What is proper blowout etiquette?
The answer can be tricky. While those lopsided finals often lead to complaints about teams running it up, most coaches will tell you keeping the score down isn't so simple.
The general consensus among coaches is, when facing an overmatched opponent, get the starters enough work to stay sharp, the backups some valuable experience and try not to embarrass the other team.
Exactly how they go about trying to achieve those goals can vary.
``It's a personal decision,'' Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. ``There's a way to manage the game in some situations, but sometimes it gets complex.''
Ferentz recalled a game where Iowa jumped out to a 28-point, first-quarter lead.
``It sounds silly to say this, but that's not the way we wanted the story to unfold,'' he said.
Ferentz said Iowa threw very few passes that day, which didn't do much good for his passing game.
Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said he tries to keep things simple when the matchup is overwhelmingly in his favor.
``You're not going to run a trick play or do things out of the ordinary,'' he said. ``You're going to try to be base and try to give a player a chance to get better.''
After Oklahoma beat North Texas 79-10 earlier this season, Sooners coach Bob Stoops said he told his guys late in the game to take a knee and not score if they broke a big run. Though taking that kind of a pity on an opponent could come across as demeaning, too.
``There's no right way to manage any of that,'' Stoops said. ``You do the best you can.''
While a coach may have sympathy for a downtrodden opponent, players aren't likely to be so kind.
``No matter if it's 50-0 or 100-0, I'd still want to make a play,'' Penn State receiver Derrick Williams said. ``It's four quarters of football, not four quarters of trying to get the game over with.''
Putting in the second-team - or third or fourth teams - is also far from a sure fire way to keep from running it up.
Those players want to make the most of their shots, and for a coach to make the game experience meaningful, he can't just call dive plays.
``We need to make our depth quality depth,'' Southern California coach Pete Carroll said.
For Carroll, rewarding his players takes precedent over possibly hurting the other team's feelings.
``As hard as it seems for some people to handle, it's more important for our locker room and our team to get our guys a chance to compete,'' he said.
Ferentz said, ``Is it fair to put in a backup quarterback and not let him throw?''
Major college football's reliance on subjective polls to determine a national champion also plays a part in how teams manage blowouts.
``With the BCS and all the ramifications that come with the rankings,'' Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer said, ``they have basically put you in position to make you get your team to look as dominant as you can.''
The team on the losing end of a lopsided score also has a role in keeping the score down.
``Both teams have to play the game a little bit,'' Oregon State coach Mike Riley said. ``If (the losing team is) going to continue to all out blitz, you can't just run into a brick wall.''
The nature of the coaching fraternity tends to push coaches toward treating one another respectfully.
``The longer you're in this game, you have compassion,'' Indiana coach Bill Lynch said. ``You know how hard the other teams work.''
Karma comes into play, too.
``Someday you're going to be on the other end and you'd want the respect of the opposing coach as well,'' Illinois coach Ron Zook.
When a coach does find himself on the receiving end of serious beat-down, giving up a few extra points is usually the least of his concerns.
``The fact of that matter is if we're getting beat like that,'' Riley said, ``I've got a lot bigger problems than what the other team is trying to do.''
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