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December 17, 1:00 PM ET
Chat about New Year, New Rules

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

What would you like to be changed in Sports in 2011?

Jordan Brenner, Mike Hume and Matt Meyers
  (1:03 PM)

Well, we've got 21 things we'd like to change right here: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/news/story?id=5918562But you've gotta start with laser goalposts, right?

Jordan Brenner, Mike Hume and Matt Meyers
  (1:05 PM)

Could not agree more. Every year someone comes up a mock playoff scenario and claims it would be better. Everyone knows it would be better. Show us a study how a playoff is more profitable than the BCS so we can actually move the conversation forward.

stephanie (cincy)

New Rule: No more CFB mock playoff scenarios. The BCS knows how to do one, they just don't want one.

J.B. (PA)

Interesting list but I'd like to add two for college football: 1) A defensive player must touch the offensive player with the ball before he is considered down and 2) two feet in bounds for a legal catch. Why not try making the rules closer to NFL rules?

Jordan Brenner, Mike Hume and Matt Meyers
  (1:06 PM)

Thanks, J.B. We actually tackled that one last year when we advocated unifying college football and the NFL rules. See the link here: http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/news/story?id=4780086

Kevin (CT)

Which rule was the hardest to come up with?

Jordan Brenner, Mike Hume and Matt Meyers
  (1:08 PM)

Good question. I think we spent the most time debating the soccer offside rule, until we came up with a solution we loved. We got a lot of great input from a lot of top soccer minds, despite what some of the Comic Book Guy-like soccer fans might say in response.

Peter (RI)

When you first sat down to do the list, was there one that all of you guys knew from the start was something you had to include?

Jordan Brenner, Mike Hume and Matt Meyers
  (1:11 PM)

The Mike Shanahan and the catch rules came up really early. We all felt strongly about them and knew we needed reasonable solutions to fix both. I think of all the rules we did, the one we could easily see being changed in the near future is the Mike Shanahan rule, sort of like when we tackled overtime last year.

Ryan (San Diego)

Did you guys argue over one particular rule change more than the others?

Jordan Brenner, Mike Hume and Matt Meyers
  (1:12 PM)

There were two, actually. The timeout change in basketball led to some serious screaming matches. (Maybe not that severe, but lots of healthy debate.) And the no-fighting in hockey rule? Lots of creative solutions there.

Jamie (Indiana)

No polls for college football or b-ball until one month of the season is complete... Not a sports competition rule, per se, but I would like to see it.

Jordan Brenner, Mike Hume and Matt Meyers
  (1:14 PM)

We like it, but here's one interesting sidebar to that -- the first AP poll of the college hoops season tends to correlate very well with success in March Madness. But yeah, it hurts more in football, where the polls directly help dictate who plays in the BCS championship game.

Marc (Malden, MA)

If you institute "no-touch" icing, then you have to move icing from the redline to the defensive blueline.

Jordan Brenner, Mike Hume and Matt Meyers
  (1:15 PM)

No. No you wouldn't. Watch any international game to see why.

Terry (CA)

Say we would be able to implement some of these rules, which one do you think would be the hardest to take hold in its sport? The technology stuff would be the easiest, obviously.

Jordan Brenner, Mike Hume and Matt Meyers
  (1:17 PM)

Well, tell that to the laser goalpost installation crew. ;) But, seriously, defining what a catch is would always be difficult, because it would always be somewhat subjective. And pretty much any rule involving the BCS feels like it would be almost impossible.

Carlos (CALI)

There is no way that soccer offside rule would work. We play that in my rec league here and it's a disaster. There are fights every week!

Jordan Brenner, Mike Hume and Matt Meyers
  (1:18 PM)

We want to watch that league! What are the fights about -- whether the team has possession within the 18? The greater point of the issue is that it's a thought exercise, to talk about why rules are built a certain way and to question them. This is one that just doesn't make much sense.

Bobby (Mpuku)

How about making it illegal for gunners on punt/return units to run out of bounds?

Jordan Brenner, Mike Hume and Matt Meyers
  (1:20 PM)

That's interesting, especially if there are strength and conditioning coaches waiting nearby. How would you change it, though? Would you differentiate between guys who are pushed out of bounds and those who just run out on their own?

Kay (CT)

Which of your suggested rules has caused the most discussion on the comment boards

Jordan Brenner, Mike Hume and Matt Meyers
  (1:22 PM)

Seems like changing offside in soccer generated the most vitriol. Soccer folks are, uh, resistant to change, shall we say ...

Shania (Jacksonville)

Turn right once in a while? What were you guys thinking!?

Jordan Brenner, Mike Hume and Matt Meyers
  (1:22 PM)

We're thinking excitement, baby! There's no reason for NASCAR drivers to be like Zoolander.

Sid (Pittsburgh)

I'd like to see off-sides in hockey eliminated. Can you imagine the excitement of a fast break?

Jordan Brenner, Mike Hume and Matt Meyers
  (1:24 PM)

For NHL 95 on his Sega Genesis, Matt once scored 300 goals in a season with Alexei Kovalev. We predict similar results with no offsides in hockey.

Shandra (Montana)

Hey ya'll. What do you think about a rule allowing golfers to pick their pairing?

Jordan Brenner, Mike Hume and Matt Meyers
  (1:25 PM)

It's interesting, but who would get to pick? We kind of like the idea of a lottery, and the first 30 players, or whatever, get to pick their playing partners. Is that what you're thinking?

Rob Daniel (Austin, Texas)

By eliminating kickoffs, you would rob football of the ridiculous comeback attempt. By stripping a team of the ability to successfully complete an onside kick, the fourth quarter of any football game would become far less interesting, and fans would head for the exits early or flip over to Leno. While this tactic might increase player safety, wouldn't it be universally loathed by television networks and stadium food vendors (not mention fans, owners, and players)?

Jordan Brenner, Mike Hume and Matt Meyers
  (1:30 PM)

I think you're correct in that it would rob football of some of its drama, but let's be honest, the onside kick is a gimmick intended to artificially keep games close. For example, imagine a basketball team was allowed to take a 30-foot jumpshot after every score and would get the ball back if they made it. That's essentially what the onside kick is -- a low-percentage way for a team to get the ball back and keep up hopes of a desperate comeback.Been to the Salt Lick lately?

J.B. (PA)

Which sport do you feel can use the most tweaking to its current rules?

Jordan Brenner, Mike Hume and Matt Meyers
  (1:32 PM)

Football. The game, honestly, is so violent that it probably should be outlawed. (And it almost was 100 years ago.) But with safety and such a stop-and-start nature with so many rules anyway, there's just a lot to fix. And it seems like it's only a matter of time before someone died on the field. When that happens, rules are going to be drastically different.

Jerome (Bronx)

Don't you think replay would slow soccer down too much? Are you talking about replay for only goals? Offside? Yellow cards?

Jordan Brenner, Mike Hume and Matt Meyers
  (1:34 PM)

Hey, it wouldn't slow the game down any more than an average member of the Italian national team faking an injury. But yes, we'd start with goals, and that could be done quite quickly, much like the NHL does with technology and review. Eventually, it would be great to see an off-field ref review cards, since there's a stoppage of play anyway and the stakes are so high.But you have to get goals right. There is no sport where one call means more to the outcome.

Willie (SJ)

Did you leave ideas off from last year that you came back to use this year?

Jordan Brenner, Mike Hume and Matt Meyers
  (1:36 PM)

We didn't intentionally leave anything out, because we weren't sure at the time that we'd do a second version. But we definitely discussed the timeout rules in basketball, and it was something we ultimately tabled because we couldn't agree. This year, we finally found consensus.

Derrick (Houston)

Did you talk at all about eliminating some of the college bowl games?

Jordan Brenner, Mike Hume and Matt Meyers
  (1:39 PM)

We talked about it, but as long as there's no playoff, who cares? They wouldn't exist if they didn't make money, and they are glorified exhibitions anyway.

Shandra (Montana)

Yeah something like a lottery could work. Or just letting the top players pick a partner on Sat or Sunday who is at least somewhat still in the competition.

Jordan Brenner, Mike Hume and Matt Meyers
  (1:40 PM)

Yeah, Shandra, we could work with something like that. But isn't it more fun to see the two leaders in the final group on Sunday?

Kristin (New York, NY)

Loved the Olympics idea. What should the U.S. offer up?

Jordan Brenner, Mike Hume and Matt Meyers
  (1:42 PM)

Mike: The Dallas Cowboys. It's a win either way.Matt: Idaho Potatoes.Jordan: Paris Hilton.

Greg (FL)

Was there a sport that you had a hard time coming up with any rule changes?

Jordan Brenner, Mike Hume and Matt Meyers
  (1:43 PM)

MMA. It's hard when there really aren't many rules. And surfing.

Marc (Malden, MA)

Yeah, I know Olympic hockey is great, but NHL defenses are smart. If you have no-touch icing at the redline, they will find a way to clog the neutral zone and slow down play.

Jordan Brenner, Mike Hume and Matt Meyers
  (1:45 PM)

They could do that now if they really wanted too. Right now the Bruins try, and do it very well, but players can still get by them. As long as there's no whistle for two-line passing we don't think there will be much of a difference. There aren't many dump ins from behind the red line that the defense doesn't get to first.

big george (NY)

If you've ever been to the Cedar basketball tournament, you've seen how terrible officiating can swing a game on the amateur level. In the pros, why don't we get refs for the refs? It would add a whole different element of drama to games - the ref ref ejecting a ref for a bad call? Much more exciting than them overturning themselves because of video replay. It's about theater, not accuracy.

Jordan Brenner, Mike Hume and Matt Meyers
  (1:48 PM)

Sadly only one of us has had that privledge but we understand where you're coming from. Joking aside, more transparent oversight of officials is essential in every sport (Hi, Colin Campbell!)

Chaniqua (Mizzou)

How can you be in favor of eliminating kickoffs? They are one of the most exciting plays in the NFL. When did the NFL become a league where you can't hit anyone?

Jordan Brenner, Mike Hume and Matt Meyers
  (1:49 PM)

When life expectancy became about 20 years less than the average person.

Marc (Malden, MA)

You missed a big one...eliminate the DH.

Jordan Brenner, Mike Hume and Matt Meyers
  (1:49 PM)

Thanks for reading last year's version! (We tackled that one.)

Vartek (VA)

One thing I like in Canadian football is its difference in having a man in motion. Any thought to allowing multiple players in motion, or allowing them to move in any direction?

Jordan Brenner, Mike Hume and Matt Meyers
  (1:51 PM)

Our brains hurt too much just thinking about it. But no, since most of our safety rules hurt the defense, we'd hate to add more rules -- like those involving motion -- that just would make it too easy to score in football.

Ken (Westport CT)

Great idea on a minimum requriement for a BCS appearance.I wish someone at the NCAA had thought of this earlier......Are you planning to send an autographed copy of your Rules issue to the NCAA?

Jordan Brenner, Mike Hume and Matt Meyers
  (1:53 PM)

We would, but we might lose our eligibility.

J.B. (PA)

I also believe MLB tried the balk line idea before and it was absolutely hated by managers and pitchers. Gee, imagine that.

Jordan Brenner, Mike Hume and Matt Meyers
  (1:53 PM)

You know what else they must hate, then? America!

J.B. (PA)

(I liked the balk line actually.)

Jordan Brenner, Mike Hume and Matt Meyers
  (1:55 PM)

We know you did, J.B. We know you did.

Brett F. (Minneapolis)

I'm all for the Olympic treasures idea, but I don't think the U.S. should be giving up Wrangler jeans, those are a precious commodity!

Jordan Brenner, Mike Hume and Matt Meyers
  (1:57 PM)

Fair enough. Some people might end up living on royalties from those commercials ...

Kristin (New York, NY)

Two questions on college basketball: (1) What about requiring that all players play for the full four years and (2) Do you think that the gifting rules get kinda ridiculous sometimes?

Jordan Brenner, Mike Hume and Matt Meyers
  (2:00 PM)

No one should be required to play a year of college basketball, let alone four. And yes, gifting rules do get ridiculous, especially during the holiday season.

J.B. (PA)

Thanks for the time and the rule ideas, folks. I can't wait for the next edition.

Jordan Brenner, Mike Hume and Matt Meyers
  (2:03 PM)

Thanks, and thanks to everyone else who stopped by to chat! It's fun discussing new ideas, which is why ran this issue in the first place. Happy holidays from your friends at The Mag!