A ridiculous experiment in "inning-based" football degenerated into a bench-clearing, crowd-rioting brawl, all because former Michigan quarterback Todd Collins does not understand the basic principles of clock management.
The Motor City Soldiers and the Wayne County Bengals, two semi-pro football teams from Metro Detroit, squared off at Royal Oak High School (yeah, that's right) in the first ever football game played by innings. Each offensive possession was half an "inning"—the inning ended when a team scored, punted, or turned the ball over—and no game clock was used. It was all going swimmingly, until a ninth-inning tackle sent players flying into the Bengals bench and all hell broke loose. Players started throwing punches, fans came out of the crowd to join in the ruckus, and the rest of the game was eventually called off. Did I mention it was supposed to go 12 innings? Seriously, this is what the economy has done to the Great Lakes State.
So what was the inspiration for this noble dream that turned into a sub-Arena League debacle three-quarters of the way through its first game? A possibly apocryphal story about one moment in time that made a young man question the concept of fairness and very essence of the sport of football.
"I was at Michigan versus Illinois game and Michigan had the ball on the 4-yard line with a first down, and they then they lost the game because the gun went off," [game organizer Lee] Wilson said prior to the game. "And I thought, ‘What a stupid way to run a ballgame.' "
Yes, we all agree on that. Michigan should always be given as much time as it needs to score game-winning touchdowns. You know what else football needs? A full-court press.
Inning football game ends in brawl [Oakland Press Sports; photo David Dalton]