Daily Archives: February 14, 2014

The sum of all Saban’s fears

Okay, now that the player safety justification for the proposed substitution rule has been widely mocked/debunked in the press and in coaching circles, let’s get back to the reason it was cited in the first place – it’s nothing more than a means to an end.

In the NCAA’s non-rules change years, proposals can only be made for student-athlete safety reasons or modifications that enhance the intent of a previous rules change.

It was the only way the Rules Committee could bring it up now.  Which begs the question, what’s the damned hurry?

That question is only augmented by the appearance of one Nick Saban before the committee.

Arkansas coach Bret Bielema and Alabama coach Nick Saban voiced their concerns about the effects of up-tempo, no-huddle offenses on player safety to the NCAA committee that passed a proposal to slow down those attacks.

Neither Bielema nor Saban were on the committee and they did not vote on the proposal passed Wednesday to allow defenses time to substitute between plays by prohibiting offenses from snapping the ball until 29 seconds are left on the 40-second play clock.

NCAA coordinator of officials Rogers Redding said Thursday that Bielema was at the meeting in Indianapolis as a representative of the American Football Coaches Association.

“Coach Saban asked for the opportunity to meet with the committee and talk about this,” Redding said. “It’s not routine, but it’s not unique, either.”

Yeah, so where were the voices of coaches opposed to the rule change?  Judging from the reactions of some, it sounds like none of those folks knew there was a need to raise their voices in the first place.

Briles added that the proposal came “out of the blue.”

“If they’re going to change anything in my mind, change it to a 35-second [play] clock,” Briles said. “People don’t want to come sit in the stands and watch the clock move.”

The proposal will be submitted to the membership for comment before it lands with the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel (PROP, see roster here). The 11-member panel is scheduled to meet March 6 — most likely by conference call — to consider the proposal. A majority vote of those 11 members will decide whether it becomes a rule in time for the 2014 season, according to a PROP member.

“I didn’t know [the proposal] was coming,” said that member, who did not want to be identified. “It will be interesting to see the fallout.”

Based on what we’ve already seen in a day, no shit, Sherlock.

So, again, where’s the fire?  Does Nick Saban feel that threatened by HUNH offenses?  (If so, Finebaum ought to have a field day with that.)

Perhaps this encapsulates the real debate best:

“Should we allow football to be a continuous game?” Saban asked. “Is that the way the game was designed to play?”

A person with knowledge of the meeting said Saban addressed the rules committee on the topic. The person spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation. Bielema, in his role as a representative of the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), participated in the discussions but does not have a committee vote. Through a spokesman, Bielema declined comment. Saban could not be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, several coaches who employ uptempo offenses told USA TODAY Sports the proposal took them completely by surprise.

The answer to Saban’s question, according to Rodriguez and others who want to play faster, is yes. They consider fast football to be superior entertainment. It is also undoubtedly an equalizer, with speedy skill players forcing defenses to play from sideline to sideline – and then to keep doing it, over and over, at high rpm.  [Emphasis added.]

Alabama recruits at a higher level than any program in the country.  It’s got resources available to it that only a few other schools can compete with, let alone match.  Coaches employing HUNH schemes are doing so in the belief that it’s the best means they have of countering the Tide’s personnel advantage (or, to be fair, any school that recruits at a higher level).  It seems to work, too.

Coaches like Sumlin and Malzahn are invested in this in their recruiting – just look at how quickly Malzahn was able to turn Auburn around last season with most of the same offensive personnel Malzahn previously recruited that Chizik couldn’t function with in 2012.  And their schools are invested in those coaches.  Saban’s not just moving against how the game is played, but he’s trying to screw with his peers’ livelihoods.  I don’t think that’s gonna go down real well.

I’m not blaming Saban for trying, mind you.  All’s fair in love, war and NCAA rulemaking.  But pushing through a major change in the rules based on the desire of a powerful coach with little thought as to the justification or the ramifications strikes me as another example of that NCAA ham-handedness we’ve come to know and love.

Heckuva job, Markie.



Filed under Nick Saban Rules, Strategery And Mechanics, The NCAA

Great moments in Bulldog history

Fourteen years ago today, Jim Donnan relieved Kevin Ramsey of his duties as defensive coordinator.

You can bitch all you want about other coordinators, but I’ve never sat through a worse Georgia defensive showing than the first half of that ’99 Auburn game.  I didn’t approve of the halftime booing, but I could sure understand why it happened.


Filed under Georgia Football

“We’re training movements, not muscles.”

I know a lot of you get a kick out of stories about strength and conditioning (if only as a basis from which to criticize what Georgia is or isn’t doing in that area), so here’s something about the changes Derek Mason is implementing in that department at Vanderbilt.

“That goes back to his (NFL experience),” Vanderbilt junior safety Jahmel McIntosh said. “In the NFL, those guys play so many games and they take so much physical abuse in every game. That goes back to the durability. So we’re more focused on maintaining our body so we will be able to play every game every weekend and have fewer injuries. This strength staff is more focused about flexibility, mobility and explosion. The (last) staff is concerned about power, and there’s nothing wrong with that. … It kind of balances out great.”

There is a certain logic to that.  And you can’t quibble with the results they’ve gotten at Stanford, where Mason came from:  “Stanford witnessed an 87 percent drop in games missed because of injuries among players on the two-deep chart in Turley’s first six seasons through 2012.”

As I possess zero expertise in this area, I’m certainly not one to judge… at least not until there are some on the field results to analyze.  What say you?


Filed under The Body Is A Temple

“Why are we manipulating the rules?”

Take ten minutes or so out of your day and listen to this interview with Leach yesterday about the proposed substitution rule.  It’s an absolute tour de force.


Filed under Mike Leach. Yar!