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.