In California’s 56-55, four-overtime victory over Arizona two weeks ago, Golden Bears quarterback Pat Barnes set a Pac-10 and school record with eight touchdown passes and a school passing mark of 503 yards.
Without the 72 passing yards and three TDs he collected in overtime, though, Barnes would have fallen short of all three records.
Now that overtime is part of the Division I-A game, the Cal-Arizona contest - plus 16 other OT games so far - has created a statistical snag: How will the NCAA, conferences and schools record these accomplishments?
Any way they want, apparently.
Jim Wright, the NCAA’s director of statistics, says when it comes to national records, the NCAA will probably create another category to differentiate between regulation and overtime records.
“If someone calls and asks, for example, ‘What’s the record for TD passes in a game?’ Wright said. “I’d tell him the answer is: ‘Eight, accomplished in four OTs. There’s also a quarterback who had seven in regulation.’
“That’s consistent with records we keep for most RBIs, most rebounds, and most other records we see.”
Wright said the NCAA also is considering a separate page in its college football records book that would address OT marks, but a final decision has not been made.
The question of OT stats centers around the rule itself. The procedure calls for each team to get a possession from the opponent’s 25-yard line and try to score. If the score is tied after each team has a possession, the process starts again until one team has more points than the other. There is no running clock in OT.
Since the format vastly differs from the game’s first 60 minutes, should a record set in OT override one set without such a benefit? Wright says not to worry.
“For single-game records, like rushing or passing, if a guy needs 5 yards and completes a 6-yarder in OT for the record? We’re comfortable that’s a record,” Wright said. “But if there are unusual circumstances where a kid goes nuts in a long OT, we’ll list the old record, or put an asterisk somewhere.
“I’d hate to see one of our favorite records, scoring or something, broken by long overtimes.”
So far, in 17 overtime games, only four have gone past one extra session, with one lasting three and another four OTs. But that’s not to say a national record won’t be broken in OT.
“I think it’s a fair concern about records set by someone who plays for 60 minutes and someone who plays past that,” said Grant Teaff, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association, the group that spearheaded the drive to bring OT to I-A. “I think there’s some unfairness. That is something that needs to be addressed.”
When the coaches agreed to overtime, they never had statistical concern, but Teaff says he doesn’t envision many OTs lasting more than one extra session.
“That’s what we’ve seen so far,” Teaff said. “Although there have been a few long ones, like the six-overtimer between Hampton and Florida A&M.; We are looking at the safety aspect when a game lasts that long. A fatigued player is more open to injury.”
While Wright says the NCAA will try to be fair in handling overtime numbers, conferences and teams can do what they want when putting together record books. Most, however, follow the NCAA’s example.
The Pac-10, which leads the nation in league OT games at four, will probably enter Barnes’ record this way:
Most Touchdown Passes:
Game: 8, Pat Barnes, California vs. Arizona (OT), 1996.
Regulation Game: 7, Mike Pagel, Arizona State vs. Stanford, 1981.
“We’re still talking it over, but Barnes will be the new record holder, and we will most likely keep the regulation record, too,” Pac-10 spokesman Jim Muldoon said.
The Big Ten will not distinguish between regulation and overtime.
“We’ll treat then as regular games,” Big Ten assistant commissioner Mark Rudner said. “That’s consistent with the way we handle basketball.”
As for game day stats, Wright said there was never a question about how they should be kept.
“We called sports information directors and other leagues who already had OT and it was nearly unanimous - there was no question that they should be part of the game stats,” Wright said.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.