As I mentioned the other day, Mark Richt seems to think so.
“I understand the need for speed, so to speak,” Richt said. “I think everybody needs to be in place, in a good football position, ready to go, within reason. If teams are not substituting fast enough because they’re not organized, that’s their fault. But if you’re highly organized, you’re running your guys on the field and they’re not even set when the ball is snapped, I think that’s the thing that might need to slow down just a tad.”
He fleshed that out a little more when he was on the ESPN set earlier this week, as you can hear in this clip. His concern was with inconsistent officiating. Interestingly, both Miles and Sumlin agreed with Richt on the matter.
And now you can add Ellis Johnson to the mix.
“If both teams are not lined up, then you’ll find out who got there fastest, I guess,” Auburn’s defensive coordinator said Tuesday. “In some cases, it’s not football. But I think that when the referees are consistent, then the defenses have no disadvantage. I think in the early years with the speed-up offenses, the officials — especially in the SEC, because they didn’t see it very much — they weren’t as good with the consistency of the mechanics. And I think that they’ve gotten better, and probably we’ve gotten a little bit more accustomed to it on defense.”
Johnson sees no problem with an offense trying to run as many plays as it can — in fact, he said he likes it. What he could do without, however, is offenses snapping the ball before the defense has had time to set up.
“I’ve seen it snapped so fast the offense isn’t lined up,” he said. “So I don’t know what you’re trying to prove there. But the pace to me is part of the game, and I think it is good when you challenge somebody else from a conditioning and toughness standpoint. That’s part of the game.”
Johnson’s solution is to regulate the time between snaps:
“I’d want a minimum of five seconds, three seconds, whatever,” he said. “When that ball is put on the ground, you will not snap it for five seconds. If you can’t get lined up by then, then tough.”
Another possibility, suggested by the Big 12’s Bill Snyder, would be to add another official who would be tasked with monitoring substitutions.
“With the fast-pace offenses, one thing that’s been happening is offenses are running wide receivers 200 miles an hour 85 yards down the field,” Snyder said. “Then four new guys come on and are ready to go right now, and your defensive backs are 85 yards away from the line of scrimmage trying to get back — and they’re snapping the football.”
According to the rules, defenses are given time to substitute when offenses substitute first. But as officials scrambled to get in position before the next snap, Anderson said they often would miss those offensive subs and fail to give the defense the opportunity to sub, too.
“That was my recommendation, that the eighth official would be somebody who could pay attention to that,” Snyder said.
The conference has adopted Snyder’s recommendation for the extra official, but not for the same purpose exactly.
Instead, the eighth official will be charged with spotting the ball as quickly as possible after each play.
“Relative to the pace, I hope the presence of the eighth official will allow us to allow the game pace to be dictated by the teams on the field, to where we’ve removed officiating from it,” Big 12 officials coordinator Walt Anderson said. “We don’t want to artificially speed the game up or slow the game down. Within what the rules are, we just want to be sure they’re fairly being administered.”
Should make for an interesting experiment, one that I’m sure other conferences will be watching closely. I bet Steve Shaw and Mike Slive are going to be subjected to further intense lobbying from the coaches after this season on this issue.