If Shrine Game isn’t going away, here are some changes

The people that put together the Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl deserve a lot of credit.

That group has tried to be as creative as it can in recent years, without being too crazy, to make the annual football game between New Hampshire and Vermont competitive.

From reducing the number of Division I players the New Hampshire coach can pick – while increasing the number of players from small schools – to reducing the amount of time in a quarter – from 15 minutes to 12 – in years when Vermont really doesn’t have a chance, there’s been a lot of tweaking done.

No one would admit it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if officials were even told to take it easy with the penalties on the team from the Green Mountain State. There were a couple of instances where defensive pass interference against Vermont was ignored, and on New Hampshire’s second offensive play, it was called for offensive offsides.

I’m sure it’s possible, and maybe I’ve seen it before, but I can’t recall an offense every being flagged for offsides.

Once again, none of it mattered.

As hard as it may seem to believe, the final score (42-6) really doesn’t tell the whole story. The whole story was the first 12-plus minutes of the game, when New Hampshire jumped out to a 26-0 lead and outgained Vermont 221-2, despite only having the ball for two minutes and 15 seconds.

Since there doesn’t seem to be an end to this game, what other rule changes could possibly be made to make it more competitive? The only ones I can think of are way outside the box, so just bare with me.

Potential Rule
Change No. 1: Draft

A selection committee picks the best 36 players from each state (the number currently selected), and on one day during the winter, the coaches from each side would get together to pick their teams. Of course, Vermont would always get the first pick.

While this would make the game more interesting, it might not solve the problem entirely, as the coaches on each side could just use all the New Hampshire kids as starters while the Vermont kids stand on the sideline.

Potential Rule
Change No. 2: Player swap

There’s a card game that’s popular among college students where the top player gives his two worst cards to the last-place player, and the last-place player gives up his two best cards. New Hampshire could do something similar, giving Vermont its two best players, while the Granite State picks up the two worst from the Green Mountain State.

OK, so maybe that’s a little insulting to those two Vermont kids, but is it any worse than what happened on Saturday?

Potential Rule Change
No. 3: All-star game series

For the last three years, New Hampshire has had its own in-state all-star game (CHaD East-West NH All-Star Football Game). Maine and Massachusetts also have an in-state all-star game, while Vermont does not.

So how about this? The three New England states play their in-state game at the end of June, and the winners of those games, plus Vermont, move on to play each other (NH champ vs. Vermont, Mass. champ vs. Maine champ) some time in July. Then the winners of those games meet for the first weekend in August for the New England Championship.

Too much? Perhaps, but again, it can’t be any worse than what happened on Saturday.

Joe Marchilena can be reached at 594-6478 or jmarchilena@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Marchilena on Twitter (@Telegraph_JoeM).