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The facts about OT

Join senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

Michael from Jacksonville:
I agree with your reader about overtime, that the college system is superior to the NFL system. You make some excellent points in your response, however, it's impossible to get past the fact that in the vast majority of NFL overtimes the winner of the coin flip wins the game. Who wants to watch a three-hour contest of skill and game-planning come down to a dumb 50/50 chance? I feel cheated every time it happens. There has to be something better than a coin flip.

Vic: OK, I've allowed you to spread your misinformation. Here are the facts: Since the NFL overtime playoff system was instituted in 1974, the team that won the overtime coin toss has won the game 52.9 percent of the time. Both teams had at least one possession in all regular-season overtime games 71.4 percent of the time. The team that won the coin toss has immediately driven for the winning score only 28.6 percent of the time. There have been 21 OT postseason games, dating back to 1958. In 18 cases, both teams had at least one possession. Wadda you think now?

Daniel from St. Louis, MO:
The reason the poll has the Jags doing better in the draft is because it's on It's not on So Jags fans vote for the Jags.

Vic: I had already figured that out, Daniel, but if the answer to all questions is "the Jaguars are the best," then why even bother having the poll? I have higher expectations of fans than to vote with their pom-poms. We're offering a legitimate forum for fans to register their honest opinion and they give us "Yeah, team?" That's weak. Tell us what you really think.

Pulin from Jacksonville:
I don't understand why people want to change the NFL's overtime policy. If you don't get the ball first, go out and play defense. Sure you're not guaranteed the ball, but you had your chances in regulation to win the game and couldn't get it done. I'd like to see a change in NCAA overtime, to make it more like real football.

Vic: If you win the coin toss and elect to receive, and the other team has a top defense and elects to defend the goal that gives them a wind advantage, you've got a problem. The thing I don't like about the college system is that each series begins in field goal range. You have to really be bad not to at least score a field goal. It's a sandlot system.

Alon from Malibu, CA:
It appears the Jags have signed a lot of offensive tackles. How easy is it for an offensive tackle to move to guard and vice versa?

Vic: There's an old saying that cornerbacks move to safety and tackles move to guard, safeties and guards move into retirement. Tackle is just a more demanding position to play than guard is. A tackle is playing in space. Guards play in a crowd and can use the traffic to bottle up pass-rushers.

Jack from Dundas, Ontario:
Why is the NFL so strict on the numbers players wear? I don't see a problem with Reggie Bush wearing number five.

Vic: One of the reasons the NFL has a by-position numbers system is that it allows for easier identification of players and their positions. It helps officials and it helps quarterbacks, who have to read defenses at the line of scrimmage. The strong safety is the key player for the quarterback to find in a defensive alignment. Once he finds the strong safety, he pretty much knows where everybody else is. If the strong safety is wearing a linebackers number, however, the quarterback's job is going to become more difficult. The same thing goes for defenses attempting to identify wide receivers and running backs. I remember when the NFL did its first throwback jersey season. One of the teams used a jersey from its inaugural season, which had a city crest on the front instead of a number. Their opponents went crazy. They made them put a little number on the shoulder, but it was difficult to see. Colts offensive coordinator Tom Moore wants linebackers to be forbidden to wear numbers in the 90's, because it makes it difficult for quarterbacks to distinguish linebackers from defensive linemen. When I watch college football and I see defensive ends wearing number one and linebackers wearing numbers in the 40's, etc., I think to myself, there's no way they're making those quarterbacks read defenses.

Cole from Little Rock, AR:
You pointed out to Leonard that Arkansas is a state, not a town. Really? You wouldn't know it if you lived here. If you represent this state, especially the University of Arkansas, you are loved in every corner of this state. It is one big town, and I only mean big by geographic standards. I'm from Jax and wound up here. I can attest to their devotion and loyalty. I promise you hometown applies to anyone from Arkansas, regardless of what town, county or mountain top they come from. Really, you don't even have to be from here, just as long as you are a Hog.

Vic: They're making you drink Kool-Aid, aren't they? Don't do it. Come back to Jacksonville. Reclaim your sanity. Learn to think again.

Joe from Canton, OH:
I read your answer to the HOF Heisman Trophy winners question. You forgot one, Doak Walker, HOF Class of 1986, Heisman Trophy winner 1948. Thought you might want to know. I enjoy your column.

Vic: Joe is Joe Horrigan, vice-president communications/exhibits at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and Joe is absolutely correct about my error. This is the second time this has happened to me in the last couple of months. I had Doak Walker's name written on my notepad, then, when I counted 'em up, I skipped him. Walker won the Heisman at SMU, then won two NFL scoring titles while playing for the Detroit Lions from 1950-55. Walker, a halfback, made the game-winning, 67-yard touchdown run in the 1952 title game. Eight men in the Pro Football Hall of Fame have won the Heisman Trophy. Joe, I love the Hall. You guys do great work.

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