“Are you serious?”

Just curious what you guys think of Kentucky offensive coordinator Neal Brown’s substitution proposal analogy:

“The offense determines the pace and sometimes it’s to the detriment of the defense,” Brown said. “But they can move all 11 people at any time (prior to the snap). We can’t. When I think about it, it would be like in basketball, you have a runaway fast break and the rules make you stop and wait till the defense gets set.”

Assuming the goal is to give the defense the ability to set fully before the ball is snapped, why limit the rule to ten seconds?  (We saw more than enough occasions last season when you could have given Grantham and his defense the entire forty seconds and they still wouldn’t have been ready.)  Why not allow defenses to indicate to the officials when they’re ready to go and then snap the ball?

Okay, that’s a rhetorical question.  Obviously, everyone wants a reasonable solution.  But what’s so magical about ten seconds?

“There are probably some coaches out there who don’t want to defend fast-pace offense,” University of Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino said. “But if (rules-makers) want to control the game or the tempo, they should control how they spot the ball. That’s an easy way to control it …

“Put it on the officials and how they mark the ball. I don’t think you should do it on how many seconds come off the clock.”

There’s some logic to that.  Except, you know, officials.

If they’re so worried that things have swung away from defenses, maybe they should think about cleaning up some of the other pro-offense rules (or, perhaps more accurately, the inconsistent enforcement of some rules, which creates advantages for offenses) before tackling HUNH.  Just a thought.


Filed under Strategery And Mechanics

79 responses to ““Are you serious?”

  1. I have a great idea to help the defenses out, make a rule where the O line can’t hold on to the pass rusher. Oh wait…

  2. I agree, Senator. Calling holding and offensive pass interference on a regular basis would change a lot of the tilt toward the offense. Change the grounding rule back to its original definition: get rid of the tackle box and make the rule where the ball has to be thrown in the direction of a player who has a reasonable chance to catch it. Finally, don’t allow two flags to be thrown on a player that an official flags for targeting. It’s either 15 yards and ejection or play on with no foul. No personal foul or roughing penalty to fall back on to protect the official’s fee-fees.

    • I commented on one Tyler’s posts over at GSP, I can see a legitimate case for 2 penalties involving targeting ONLY in the case of late hits. The example I gave was Ray Drew’s ejection……for argument’s sake, let’s say the targeting had been overturned, but let’s say he had gotten there a half second or so later, to the point that it was clearly a late hit on the QB. In a scenario like that, I wouldn’t have a problem with a 2nd flag for the late hit, as that would be a very legitimate call. And I guess in theory something like that could happen along the sidelines too where a guy is clearly out of bounds, takes a hit the refs rule is targeting, but even if that’s overturned, the late hit penalty should stand. Other than late hits though, I can’t think of a justifiable reason to have 2 penalties in a targeting situation for the ref to fall back on.

      Also, one thing I haven’t seen addressed…….if the refs DO call 2 fouls, and the targeting is upheld, shouldn’t that be 30 yards in penalties, plus the ejection? From the way I’ve read everything, it sounds like if the targeting is upheld, the 2nd foul would just be ignored, which doesn’t make sense. It’s either 2 penalties or it’s not.

      Finally, I like what you said about getting rid of the tackle box re: intentional grounding. What’s the NFL rule on that, just out of curiosity? For the life of me I can’t remember if they use the same rule or not.

      • The NFL had the tackle box rule long before the colleges to protect the $40 million QBs. I hate that rule.

        The reason I say the targeting penalty should have to stand on its own is that it should be reserved only for egregious circumstances where the player needs to be ejected. If the referee sees targeting, call it and see if it stands up to review. If the proper call is roughing the passer, call that and give the 15 yards and the automatic first down. Either way, the player is going to get an earful from his coach when he comes to the sideline. I wouldn’t have had a problem with a roughing penalty on Ray Drew on that play, but the targeting was ridiculous. I also wouldn’t have wanted Ramik Wilson to be called for unnecessary roughness and targeting just so they could make sure to penalize the 15 yards.

        • Agree 100% on Ramik’s situation…..again, if it’s not a late hit situation, I don’t see a justifiable call for a 2nd flag.

          • Hackerdog

            If a defensive back hits a receiver before the ball arrives, it would be pass interference, as well as targeting.

            • Good call, hadn’t thought of that one. Ok, either late hits or early hits then. 🙂

            • In the context, are you saying Wilson also committed pass interference because the replay clearly showed the hit was a clean play both before the ball arrived (DPI) and after (targeting)? It should have been an incomplete pass with a turnover on downs – nothing more.

              If not, you are correct, but my point is whether the official should be allowed to call both penalties (one of which is reviewable and one which is not under the current system). If we’re going to allow the official to call two fouls in the same sequence on the same player (targeting & defensive PI), then allow the replay official to look at both calls and determine if any foul occurred on the play (not just the reviewable call – targeting). I just don’t like the idea that an official can get the same result of an overturned targeting call by also calling a penalty that isn’t reviewable by the booth.

              I guarantee you that Ramik Wilson would have been flagged for both targeting and unnecessary roughness under the revised targeting proposal. Therefore, the same result – 15 yards and an automatic first down without the ejection.

              • Hackerdog

                The Wilson hit in the Vandy game was not before the ball arrived. Therefore, it wasn’t interference.

                I agree that the revision invites officials to start adding unnecessary roughness to every targeting call. I don’t agree with that.

                However, I don’t necessarily think that everything should be reviewable on a targeting call. If pass interference becomes reviewable on a targeting call, but not at other times, then we will have uneven enforcement of the penalty, which I’m against.

                • That’s fair, but I just don’t want some other penalty called just to protect the officials in case the targeting penalty gets overturned on review. If I were Mike $live, I would be telling Steve Shaw and the ADs/head coaches that I will personally review every targeting call (successful and overturned) made the following Sunday with Shaw and there will be severe consequences for the crew and the replay official who screw this up.

                  • Mayor of Dawgtown

                    EE, you are absolutely right. That’s what should happen. As if Slime and his crowd would do that honestly–there’s the problem.

  3. Mark

    I don’t think the rule will pass. There will be too much political cost for it to make it as a new rule now.

  4. Puffdawg

    “Why not allow defenses to indicate to the officials when they’re ready to go and then snap the ball?”

    You know, this is a great point. All these coaches are comparing this to basketball. Why not compare it to baseball, where the batter is allowed to keep the pitcher from quick pitching him, because quick pitching is not in the spirit of the game. FOOTBALL IS NOT BASKETBALL. Football is not baseball. It’s football. If they want to treat it like basketball, let’s set up a scorers table and check in players as they sub in and stop play when the ball goes out of bounds. It’s just a stupid analogy.

    Now, coaches using injury concerns as a front for their defense of slower pace? Get me a barf bag please.

    • Hackerdog

      You’re giving away your age. Batters stepping out of the box to adjust every piece of equipment they have and slow down the pitcher is a relatively recent development in baseball. In the good old days, batters would sometimes stand in the box in between pitches. Games also took an average of 2.5 hours way back then. Some games were over in under two hours.

      • DawginSG

        In the old days, they nearly ALWAYS stood in the batter’s box for consecutive pitches, if they weren’t picking themselves up from the dirt.

      • AlphaDawg

        I read somewhere that once Hank Aaron stepped into the batters box, he only stepped out for a hit, walk or walk back to the dugout. I’m too young to remember him playing, but that line always impressed me.

      • Noonan

        In my day, we played both ways with no substitutions. We didn’t need a facemask either. And it was always snowing at every game.

  5. Just Chuck (The Other One)

    The one thing I haven’t heard any discussion on is the effect this rule might have on a team who’s behind late in a close game with the clock running, and they’re moving the ball. Seems like this could run the clock out on some teams who otherwise might have pulled out a win. I bet folks can think of some examples.

    • I don’t know. My guess is that even teams in catch-up mode rarely snap it within the first 10 seconds. I saw a tweet the other day that if the rule had been in effect this year, AU would have only been flagged twice in the National Championship game. And that’s an offense that runs faster than most do even in catch up mode……..when AU really got going, it felt like they were snapping the ball every 5 seconds. But even at their sometimes frenetic pace, they only snapped it twice inside of 10 seconds.

      The question becomes how much it will slow the offense down. If my offense would have normally snapped it after 12 seconds without the D subbing, does it now take me a few extra seconds to adjust my playcall based on who the D just subbed in? Or do I run the play regardless, thereby not losing any time? But if do have to adjust the play, how many extra seconds does that take? If it’s only 2-3 seconds, probably not a big deal. My guess is that getting a snap off in 15 seconds is probably about where most teams are anyway even in hurry up. But if it now takes me an extra 5-10 seconds, that can add up real quick.

      • Subbing on defense without an offensive substitution is going to be very difficult in a 10 second window without risking an illegal substitution penalty. I just don’t get the pushback on this other than the way it was done and by whom it was done. It would be interesting to look at the Texas A&M, Auburn, and Oklahoma game films against Alabama to see if and how many times the penalty could have been called.

        • Subbing on defense without an offensive substitution is going to be very difficult in a 10 second window without risking an illegal substitution penalty.

          That’s the it looks to me, ee.

      • The proposed rule would not apply to the last two minutes of each half.

        That’s what I’m wondering .. whether 10 seconds is sufficient time for the defense to respond to the offense and be ready and set.

        I’m thinking it might not be enough, if an offense really wants to snap it at the.29 second mark, especially after plays where defenders are a long ways from the ball.

    • The proposed rule would not apply to the last two minutes of each half. Because, you know, coaches that oppose such tactics might actually need them in those end of game situations where they’re trailing.

      • Just Chuck (The Other One)

        But if this is a “safety” issue as Saban is claiming (although we know it’s not) why should we be less concerned about safety in the last two minutes than we are in the rest of the game? If you’re going to sell it as a safety issue, at least be consistent.

        • Yep. That’s the exact point that’s been made here and elsewhere. While this may indeed by a worthwhile debate, it’s clearly been held in a half-assed manner.

      • The proposed rule would not apply to the last two minutes of each half.

        Exactly. And neither does the 40-second rule apply in those situations. In the last two minutes, the old 25-second rule applies.

        • Ivey, the 40-second play clock is in place for the entire game. The game clock rules change in the last 2(?) minutes of the 1st half and last 5(?) minutes of the 2nd half.

  6. Go Dawgs!

    Your last point about enforcing existing rules is a good one. I bet Saban might give up the ten second rule if you told him that officials were going to start calling offensive holding again. The fact that offensive linemen can more or less mug a pass rusher these days is much more detrimental to a defense than simply getting a little winded. The fast break offenses might not be nearly as potent if the quarterbacks running the HUNH had to think a little bit more about paying a price.

  7. Always Someone Else's Fault

    The analogies that offensive coaches are using for basketball are pretty telling. They seem to be equating a fast-break lay-up, a 2 point basket in a game that will feature at least 120 and as many as 200 points, with a touchdown. So, to extend their analogy, the perfect basketball/football game would be a 10 possession game where each team gets 10 fast breaks, and the team that loses is the one that fails to convert on one of its breaks. That wouldn’t be much of a basketball game, and it wouldn’t be much of a football game.

    The 10 second rule only costs offenses the opportunity to lock in a mismatch. I would rather sacrifice that than recalibrate all of the other rules in question. Why? Consistency. We hated the targeting rule for a lot of reasons, but a big one was the complete variation in the way officials did and did not call it. Changing 5 or 6 rules on judgement calls, with all of the recalibration headaches associated with each, seems a lot harder to do than just make sure the ball doesn’t get snapped until the play clock hits 30.

    10 seconds to substitute. That includes time required to run onto the field and get into position. Why are offenses acting like this is the end of the world?

    • From the linked article, I think this nicely summarizes the two camps:

      Everybody is looking for an edge. That much ought to be obvious.

      Alabama coach Nick Saban wants college football to be played at a tempo that favors overwhelming talent. Those coaches with fewer five-star recruits would prefer to be able to pick up the pace to emphasize conditioning and execution and to neutralize depth.

      Here’s what really sucks for me about this. One of the great things about college football is its creativity and innovation, much of which is born from a lack of parity in D-1. Asking the NCAA to pass a rule to restrict HUNH offenses is nothing more than an attempt to lock in the benefits of that lack of parity. Now if Saban wants to give up some of those advantages by, say, lowering the number of D-1 football scholarships and restricting certain forms of roster management, then maybe the substitution proposal would be more palatable. Somehow I doubt he’d be interested in that, though.

      • Always Someone Else's Fault

        Stanford beat USC at USC as a 42 point underdog without HUNH or HUNH rules. App State beat Michigan without HUNH. College football seasons have always been defined by unthinkable upsets. The idea that a 10 second restriction on HUNH takes all of that away makes no sense to me.

        Again, I think the presence of Saban warps a lot of perspectives on this. People want to see him fail, and so they oppose anything he might be for. That approach doesn’t work too well in Washington for either political party and results in a pretty incoherent government.

        If we don’t put in the opportunity to sub back into the game, we’re going to see a slew of flopping and tons of GIFs like the one of Auburn’s Sharp collapsing to the field at the direction of his sideline. Defensive coaches would be idiots not to. And it wouldn’t require any more direction to the players than this: “You are under no obligation to play gassed or injured for the benefit of the other team. If you feel less than 100%, just lie there until the official blows his whistle. You owe it to your team to be 100% out there. Don’t try to be a hero.” Then, it’s not “flopping” and within the dynamic of the team, it’s not dishonorable.

        And then we can spend all of next off-season debating (A) flopping penalties versus (B) new substitution rules.

        • Hugh Freeze isn’t running HUNH because he wants to score an unthinkable upset. He’s running it because he thinks it gives OM the best chance to win the SEC West.

          Kinda of like why Nick Saban pursues an aggressive form of roster management.

          Neither of which violates NCAA rules.

          • Senator, until Hugh Freeze builds a defense that can stop the Alabama, Auburn, and LSU running games consistently, he won’t be winning the SEC West.🙂

            • While that may be true, I just fail to see how the HUNH offense is all of a sudden the reason the need for rules change other than some coaches don’t want to adjust their response. Wasn’t ‘Bama wildly successful in the 70s because they implemented the wishbone offense after a few stagnant years? That was before my time, but I imagine that offense was viewed much in the same way by those contemporaries as the HUNH is now (i.e. a gimmick/high school offense). Coaches eventually caught up with that and nobody runs it with much success anymore.

              There is honestly a legitimate debate to be had about the HUNH and whether it’s good for the game. However, until all the interested parties are willing to show their true concerns (i.e. Nick Saban “doesn’t have time for that shit” AKA re-arrange his current roster to defend it) and instead hide behind the guise of “player safety” – well, I just find that route for change intellectually dishonest and not very compelling.

              • AD, I agree. Saban’s rationale of player safety is absolute BS. I also think the offensive coaches’ and media complaints about the proposed rule is BS. Notice Richt and Bobo have been quiet about this, so I assume they don’t think it’s a big deal. If they don’t think it’s a big deal, we shouldn’t either.

                I just don’t think 11 seconds on the play clock makes much difference at the end of the day. It’s going to take 3-5 seconds to unpile players after a typical running play. It’s another 3-5 seconds to get into formation and call the play. At that point, we’re talking about 1-5 seconds per play difference to snap the ball since the 40-second clock starts when the ball is whistled dead. Using 3 seconds per play over 80 offensive snaps in the 56 minutes of game clock where the rule is effective, you are talking about 4 minutes of time where the game clock may or may not be moving, so the idea of this neutralizing the HUNH doesn’t hold water to me. A well-organized defense could get a 1-2 player change in during that time to remove a mismatch but not much more than that.

                • Hackerdog

                  I wouldn’t take Richt’s silence as an implicit endorsement of the rule. Perhaps he’s become too cynical after spending years lobbying the SEC unsuccessfully to hope that his voice would carry any weight.

                  Also, I think you underestimate the effect. I don’t think Saban has time to travel to Indianapolis to comment on an inconsequential rule change. He went there for a reason. And that reason was to secure an advantage for his team.

                  • I wouldn’t take Richt’s silence as an implicit endorsement of the rule.

                    I’d be shocked if Richt’s take is not exactly the same as my own (cut it back just enough so that the officials and the defense to have sufficient time to get set). Just based on knowing him a long time now.

                    • I posted something about Richt’s take last summer.

                    • I posted something about Richt’s take last summer.

                      Thanks. Missed that, but that’s what I thought he would say. It’s all about allowing sufficient time for the officials and defense to get set, ready to play in “football position”.

                      Just basic fairness. I hate it’s been complicated beyond that.

                    • Your memory is better than mine, Senator. I had forgotten Richt’s comment and your post, and my response to it. Seems I was concerned about regulation then, as I am now.

                      Boy, have they royally screwed this up. This was [my comment from last summer] (https://blutarsky.wordpress.com/2013/07/24/is-there-a-middle-ground-on-pace/#comment-230305).

                      “I thought Richt got it right at Media Days, and I’m glad to see Ellis Johnson on board with him, since Gus Malzahn has made no bones about his goal to be “the fastest offense in the country”.

                      The big issue, to me, is the basic fairness that was built into the game from the beginning, i.e., that the structure of the game would provide no advantage for either side of the ball.

                      So, given all the rule changes that have favored the offense over the last 30+ years, it’s critical that enough time be allowed to give the defense “a reasonable amount of time to get set in a good football position”. That is Richt’s main point. Johnson mentioned “five seconds”. *

                      At the SEC level, the officials can control the pace of the game without new rules. All that is necessary is the will of the SEC office. But if there has to be a NCAA rule, and I hope not, Johnson’s 5 seconds sounds about right.

                      The one thing I do worry about the most, is I don’t want to lose the ability to fly down the field at the end of a game. If they get it right, we won’t lose that. But there’s no question that ability is threatened by the mere prospect of regulation.”

                      *  Johnson was talking about 5 seconds after the ball was placed into play, not from the 40-second clock.
                  • Of course, because it was done behind closed doors, we don’t know what Saban asked for. He may have asked for 15 or 20 seconds and 10 was the compromise the rules committee agreed to propose. I think we can all agree that the way this was done stinks to high heaven.

            • Hackerdog

              Auburn won the West ranked 12th in the conference in total defense.

          • Always Someone Else's Fault

            Ole Miss is Ole Miss, HUNH or no HUNH. If we’re going to fundamentally alter football to maintain Freeze’s delusion that HUNH can turn Ole Miss into something other than Ole Miss, then maybe he should watch some game tape. Ole Miss won the west with Eli Manning and a very traditional drop back passing attack.

        • Again, I think the presence of Saban warps a lot of perspectives on this.

          That’s been my thought. Unless one can completely remove Saban from the equation, it’s pretty much impossible to see it clearly. That’s the mistake the linked columnist makes.

          This issue is not about Saban. It’s not about making a rule that caters to anything Saban wants. It’s about the inherent unfairness of allowing the offense to run at an insane pace that, in effect, makes the game continuous like basketball and renders one side of the ball impotent.

          Nobody is talking about eliminating HUNH. Teams should still be able to go fast. Just not so fast as to run plays before the defense has a fair opportunity to get ready. That’s nothing more than a gimmick, and inherently unfair, which is why it threatens the game.

          The issue is rolling the pace back to where it was a few years ago, when it was still fast. That is not a radical change. What is radical is what we’ve had the last several years.

          College football was a great game 10 years ago. Every bit as good as it is now, probably better. And teams were still able to go fast if they wanted. What the proponents want, is to go back to a pace that is even faster than in was in 2004. Keep it fast, but just take the insanity out of it.

          Now whether the proposed rule accomplishes that is another matter altogether.

          • This issue is not about Saban. It’s not about making a rule that caters to anything Saban wants. It’s about the inherent unfairness of allowing the offense to run at an insane pace that, in effect, makes the game continuous like basketball and renders one side of the ball impotent.

            Gosh, when you put it like that, I’m ashamed I even brought it up.

            If it’s not about catering to the Sabans and Bielemas of the college football world, then why not debate the change openly?

            Sorry, but this is a case where the method says much about the agenda.

            • Senator, I agree with you on the method but agree with Ivey’s perspective on the issue itself. I didn’t like the way this was done with the backroom dealing, but it just prepares us for the reality of what’s going to happen on December 7, 2014, when the playoff participants and the bowl selections come out.

              • Again, I don’t have a problem in the world with having the debate. But let’s have a real one, where both sides have input towards a reasonable solution, instead of this back-door garbage.

              • If it’s not about catering to the Sabans and Bielemas of the college football world, then why not debate the change openly? Sorry, but this is a case where the method says much about the agenda.

                I don’t know about Saban’s agenda, and don’t care. You may well be right about that. But he, Bielema, and anybody else should still be extracted from the issue.

                You are right about the way it was handled, I couldn’t agree more. In fact, I absolutely HATE it, because it is obscuring the real issue. But I guess it’s been handled about the same as most everything else since that idiot has headed up the NCAA.

  8. I think the targeting rule should apply to all teams. Not just Georgia and a couple of others.

  9. “There are probably some coaches out there who don’t want to defend fast-pace offense,” University of Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino said. “But if (rules-makers) want to control the game or the tempo, they should control how they spot the ball. That’s an easy way to control it …

    Petrino is underscoring a point I’ve been making the last two days, i.e., that the pace should be controlled by the officials.

    But as also pointed out, while the 2008 40-second rule further enabled the insane pace we see today, it was primarily the officials who have allowed it to happen. I would like to know where the influence came from that caused the officials to do such a thing, beginning sometime in 2010 or 2011 (that’s a guess).

    Because THAT is the sneaky and duplicitous part of this issue, who and what caused the insane pace in the first place. It didn’t come in 2008 with the rule change. It took several years. Somebody with influence gave us this insane pace, and obviously did it for self-serving reasons.

    I’d like to know who that was. Not that it would change anything, because it’s too late now, IMO, to revert back and put pace in the hands of the officials, where it belongs. The toothpaste is out of the tube now, and with the current political pressure, officials around the country will never again be consistent with pace.

    So we have a mess, and it could be the only way to halt the insane pace is by rule. While it’s hard to tell, I don’t see this 10-second rule as making all that much difference. It’s hard to see whether or not it’ll allow enough time for defenses to be ready and set. We’re talking seconds here, after all.

    I’m not that concerned with substitution. The core issue is allowing the defense sufficient time to respond to the offense, and be ready and set. Because that is the thing that creates an unfair advantage and threatens the game.

    I hope I’m wrong, and eventually the pace will once again be controlled by the officials, who will then apply the reason to the control of the game that they have used for 130+ years, until recently. But it’s just hard to see it happening.

  10. PTC DAWG

    11 on 11 don’t change the rules, if the O subs, the D can sub now. If you can’t keep up, work hard and get butter.

    • The problem is the officials don’t consistently give the defense an opportunity to counter the offensive substitution and don’t control the pace of play to keep the playing field level. See Ivey’s post above.

      • PTC DAWG

        I disagree with that premise. If the O can do it, the D can keep up..or not, that has always been the game in a nutshell. Put your best 11 out there and shut somebody down.

        • BWD

          But “your best 11” isn’t the same on every play. Offenses get to dictate what personnel they put on the field on any given. If the defense does not have the opportunity to sub in its appropriate personnel, that creates an advantage.

          • That’s exactly right – if the defense doesn’t consistently get a chance to match up its substitutions against an offense that is substituting, then how can you say the defense has its “best 11” out there for down and distance, field position, offensive personnel grouping, etc.? My best 11 on 3rd and 22 against 5 wide is different than my best 11 on 2nd and 6 on the offense’s side of the field against a base I set.

  11. FWIW, this was just sent to me by someone who heard this on the radio .. can’t vouch for it, but it should be coming out soon ….

    Apparently Saban did not approach the committee. They consulted him and other coaches. From what I’ve gathered, they were already going to try and rework this aspect of football. The head of SEC officiating said before the year started that he thought they should look into the pace the game is beginning to move … The 10 second rule is just so teams can be permitted to substitute… the numbers I heard on the radio showed that like 60 or 70% of the snaps last year came with under 20 seconds on the clock. I think they said Auburn would have only been penalized like 3 times all year with the new rules (can’t remember the actual numbers)… basically, this isn’t really going to slow down any teams that want to run fast offenses, it’s just giving a designated time for subs if needed.

    So I guess we just stay tuned.

  12. This are quotes from Ellis Johnson , Auburn DC, apparently from a radio show some time back.

    “What it’s about now is who can snap the football before the other team lines up … It sounds like sour grapes right now, but there is not a balanced playing field.”

    That’s not all he said, you may want to check it out.