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Can We All Agree?

It is time once again for the newest feature here at Dawg Sports, to which we refer as "Can We All Agree?"

Numerous issues divide sports fans and our internal global positioning systems seldom lead us to common ground. In this new segment, we aspire not to resolve any thorny issues or put to rest any simmering disputes, but only to dispense with distractions that are not legitimate points of contention. I suspect you will not be surprised to learn what our latest area of consensus will be.

Pipe down; we're not going to make fun of your heinous uniforms again.

Sunday Morning Quarterback, who doesn't miss much, spotted the flaw in it right away, as did Corn Nation. The Wizard of Odds isn't fooled by it, nor is Mark Richt. College Football Resource conducted a prayer vigil in the hope of getting rid of it and Orson Swindle took custody of it like Ricky Bobby saying grace.

I refer, of course, to the infamous Rule 3-2-5-e, the college football clock rule implemented in 2006, which was intended to (and did) shorten games. The Lawgiver calmly issued this pronouncement upon this weighty question:

I'm ambivalent. Games have lengthened [in] terms of both time and playcount in recent years because of spread mania and something should be done to reduce the massive time savings yielded by the passing game - perhaps starting the clock when the ball is set for play after an incompletion - but this is a totally arbitrary rule change that will do more harm than good.

That prudent assessment has much to recommend it and I freely admit that my fundamental conservative impulse to quote Lord Falkland at the first whiff of change causes me to respond with crotchety, curmudgeonly disdain to most deviations from the status quo. In this, as a college football fan, I am far from alone.

In 1881, the game between Princeton and Yale ended in a scoreless tie and a co-championship shared by the two teams because both squads took advantage of the "touch-in-goal," moving the ball backward on each possession to what is now called the end zone to gain the equivalent of what would now be a touchback, neither trying to score nor surrendering possession. This led to the rules change that established the concept of the first down.

In December 1905, a contest between Fairmont and Washburn featured an experimental play that would not be legalized until the following year, which was known as the forward pass. (In his first year as Georgia's head football coach in 1906, W.S. "Bull" Whitney attempted to take advantage of this change in the rules by utilizing the first aerial assault ever seen in Athens. The Red and Black's first loss of the season resulted from an errant pass, perhaps giving rise to a preference for the ground game that endures in Bulldog Nation to this very day.)

994 carries, three S.E.C. titles. I scoff at you, forward pass.

Subsequent rules reforms in 1910 were designed to put an end to the brutality of "mass play" by requiring a minimum number of men along the line of scrimmage, opening up the passing game, and prohibiting players from pushing or pulling their teammates. Walter Camp "violently opposed" these reforms "because Yale's style of play is practically destroyed."

Perhaps my disdain for Rule 3-2-5-e arises from the same narrowminded myopia as Coach Camp's denunciation of the rule against shoving the ball carrier downfield. However, I believe my stance is rooted in a more fundamental proposition.

It isn't that I dislike Rule 3-2-5-e in practice. It isn't even that I dislike the particular manner in which it accomplishes its objective. At a much more basic level, I simply reject the premise underlying the rule.

. . . And I've been known to accept some pretty far-fetched premises in my day!

Perhaps an analogy will suffice. My wife teaches advanced placement courses, which allow high school students to earn college credit and exempt certain core requirements at the university level. The practical effect of these classes is to shorten the time it will take these students to earn their baccalaureate degrees.

Such courses were not available to me when I was in high school, for which I am grateful. Had I been given the opportunity to take A.P. classes, I probably would have and, in the long run, I would have regretted it.

I attended the University of Georgia. As anyone who ever went to school in Athens will tell you, your University of Georgia experience isn't one you want to shorten, it's one you want to prolong. If I were a high school guidance counselor, I would advise future University of Georgia students to eschew advanced placement courses and instead take regressed placement courses, which would force them to stay in college longer.

That probably explains why I would make a horrible high school guidance counselor, m'kay, but it also illustrates why I dislike Rule 3-2-5-e. I don't get why anyone would want to spend less time in the Classic City and, likewise, I reject the notion that there are circumstances under which games are improved by being shortened, because such a proposition is reliant upon the dubious presumption that there is such a thing as too much college football.

The way I look at it, every minute I spend watching Troy and Rice in the New Orleans Bowl is a moment I don't have to spend watching hockey.

I believe that too much of a good thing is an even better thing. If three-hour college football games are a plus, three-hour-and-fifteen-minute college football games are even more positive. SMQ said it best: the rule change was designed to benefit the wrong folks . . . namely, flighty quasi-fans with short attention spans and network advertising executives.

The question I put to you, then, is a simple one. Even if we can't come to terms on every question over which we quarrel, can we all agree . . .

. . . that there is no such thing as too much college football?

Let me know if I'm way off base on that one.

Go 'Dawgs!