There have been five seven-overtime games since the NCAA adopted its overtime rules back in 1996. Three of those five happened to be SEC games, and the most recent one happens to be the most recent regular season SEC game — Texas A&M’s 74-72 septuple overtime win over LSU in College Station on Thanksgiving Saturday of 2018.
Five seven-overtime games spread across the thousands and thousands of games over a 23-year span makes them essentially lightning strike events, but when that lightning bolt finds your backyard three out of five strikes, you’d start to wonder how to prevent them, too.
The SEC’s presidents gathered during their conference’s basketball tournament in Nashville last week, and the meeting ended with a consensus idea to tweak the existing overtime structure: After four overtimes (letting both teams take the ball last twice), the game would then move exclusively to 2-point conversions until a winner emerges.
“So the recommendation that came first out of LSU and then A&M, and we support it, is that there would be no more than four overtimes. Then, after that, there would be only a two-point conversion,” South Carolina president Harris Pastides told The Big Spur. “It would be four overtimes, that would be the maximum, then you go just to two-point conversions. We estimate that fewer than 100th of 1 percent of all games would result in a tie after that moment in time. I think that’s the right way to do it. That requires one more NCAA vote to be adopted nationally, so we’re comfortable with that.”
As far as overtime fixes go, this definitely ranks as a half-measure. (My favorite remains the California tug-of-war tiebreaker used by the state’s high school system in the 1960’s, ’70s and ’80s.)
Pastides also said the league will continue to discuss a fix to the cross-division rivalry game conundrum that has vexed the SEC for years. Only two of those games (Auburn vs. Georgia, Alabama vs. Tennessee) actually matter to the participants, but the problem is they matter tremendously to those four schools, all of whom happen to be Old Guard members of the SEC.
There’s a fix to that as well — scrapping divisions altogether — but once again it seems the SEC presidents are more captivated by a half measure.