Two years ago, when the football coaches in the Division I-AA Yankee Conference were considering adopting an overtime procedure to settle tied games, Maine Coach Ron Rogerson was a vocal supporter.
"It all sounded real good to me while we were just talking about it," Rogerson said yesterday. "I was excited, I thought it would be great for college football. But after these experiences, I'd be damn happy with a tie."
The experiences have not been pleasant. On Sept. 18, Maine lost to Rhode Island, 58-55, in six overtimes. Last Saturday, Maine lost to Boston University, 48-45, in four overtimes. The Black Bears have lost the only two overtime games played in the conference in two years. Rogerson, understandably, doesn't think overtime is so great anymore.
"I guess you could call me the chameleon of the year," Rogerson said yesterday in a telephone interview. "I'm like the leaves up here. We've both changed from green to red."
After the loss to Rhode Island, "I didn't think it (the overtime) was so bad," he said. "I didn't feel like we lost the ball game, even though on record we did. But after the second one, the devastation in our locker room was incredible. I don't know that there's anything educational that happened to those kids in that second game. That's what has changed my mind."
The only laugh Rogerson has gotten out of this was after regulation of the BU game when the officials came over to explain the rules to him. "I could have explained the rules to them, " he said.
The rules are somewhat complicated, but very similar to the North American Soccer League's controversial shootout.
After regulation ends in a tie, the teams flip a coin to see who gets first possession.The offensive team begins play 15 yards The offensive team begins play 15 yards from the goal line. The offensive team can gain a first down, and can kick a field goal on any down.
If a team fails to get a first down or score, the other team takes over at the 15. Kicking a field goal on first down is risky, since the other team could win the game on a touchdown.
One overtime is completed when each team has had the ball once. The defense cannot score. In case of a turnover, the ball is called dead and the other team begins play at the 15. The team that begins overtime on offense starts the second overtime on defense if the game is still tied.
The Big Sky and Ohio Valley conferences, also Division I-A, use overtime. Weber State of the Big Sky played two overtime games last year, but won one. The Wisconsin State University Conference of Division III plays sudden death overtime, much like the National Football League. The NCAA rules are so loose, in fact, they any two conference teams could agree before the game to play overtime in case of a tie.
In Maine's loss to Rhode Island, the Rams started overtime by scoring on a nine-yard pass and making the point-after kick (a missed point-after kick is disastrous). Maine followed by scoring on a three-yard run and also made the kick.
The Black Bears got a break in the third overtime, when Rhode Island had to kick a 30-yard field goal on fourth down. But Maine couldn't move the ball and settled for a 36-yard field goal itself.
Finally, in the sixth overtime, after Maine's 27-yard field goal on fourth down, Rhode Island won the game on a daring maneuver. The Rams -- facing defeat if the play didn't workran a fourth-down, two-yard end around for a touchdown and the victory.