|Wednesday, August 28
NCAA changes policy on football stats
INDIANAPOLIS -- Starting this season, bowl games will count toward players' statistics in the national record books.
"Each sport we compile statistics in, that's the way it's done," Gary Johnson, senior assistant director of statistics at the NCAA, said Tuesday. "We're basically bringing football in line."
When the NCAA started keeping stats in 1937, there were few bowl games and officials didn't feel the need to include those numbers in the final statistics because they didn't affect that many teams, Johnson said.
For the 2002-03 football season, there are 28 scheduled bowls, including new games in Charlotte, N.C., Hawaii and San Francisco. Also, there are more "preseason" games, meaning some teams might play as many as 15 times this season.
Although the change could have a dramatic impact on records and milestones, Johnson doesn't expect there to be much dissent. The change has been discussed for years, and a poll of the NCAA's membership showed that this year a majority of schools were in favor of counting postseason games.
Steve Snapp, sports information director at Ohio State, said his school, and most in the Big Ten, always have included bowl games in their statistics. The conference has a rich bowl tradition, he said, and postseason stats shouldn't be excluded.
Tom Schott, sports information director for Purdue University, agreed that it's time the NCAA made the adjustment.
"It was silly not to," he said. "In every other sport they include the postseason."
Schott added that he would like to see the NCAA go back into the record books and add in bowl games from the past.
"I think it's doable," he said. "I can understand them not wanting to go back right now. I hope at some point they go back."
The change isn't retroactive, meaning some individual records might be vulnerable. For instance, Wisconsin's Ron Dayne holds the career rushing record of 6,397 yards, 118 ahead Texas' Ricky Williams. Throw in bowl games, though, and Dayne's advantage over Williams would grow to 533.
John Heisler, associate athletic director at Notre Dame University, said he's a "traditionalist" who would have voted against the change, but he understands the desire for conformity with other collegiate sports.
The average fan, he said, most likely already thinks bowl game statistics are included in the NCAA record books.
"I'm not sure it's going to make a big difference," he said.