Saban goes Bert.

Geez, Nick.  You were doing so well keeping your opinions about the 10-second rule to yourself.  And then you had to go and spoil it all by saying something stupid like this:

“The fastball guys (up-tempo coaches) say there’s no data out there, and I guess you have to use some logic. What’s the logic? If you smoke one cigarette, do you have the same chances of getting cancer if you smoke 20? I guess there’s no study that specifically says that. But logically, we would say, ‘Yeah, there probably is.'”

Nice tortured analogy.  However, if you really want to go there, shouldn’t you apply the same logic to the effect of schedule expansion?  In the last two decades or so, the regular season has gotten longer and most conferences have added a championship game.  And now, the postseason is embarking on an expansion kick.  Starting this season, an Alabama team that plays for the national title after winning the SECCG will be hitting and tackling opponents for the fifteenth time.  That’s a 25% increase from the early nineties, assuming bowl eligibility.

Funny how Saban has nothing to say about that.

And unlike the up-tempo stuff, there may be some relevant data out there about schedule size.  Per Dave Bartoo,

In the 2013, 133k play FBS season, 526 guys were lost for the year during the season to injury. In the 32 team, 16 game, 32k plays NFL it was 205 season ending injuries. OR season ending injuries during the season occurred 162% more often per play in the NFL than FBS. OR one SEI in the NFL every 156 plays to 253 on the FBS.

The NFL doesn’t have a pace problem.  Even Saban acknowledges that.  What it does have is a longer season.  While I won’t insist correlation equals causation, that’s not the banner of logic ol’ Nick’s marching under here.

Saban is as calculating a man as you’ll find.  I don’t take this as some sort of irrational outburst.  It indicates two things to me – one, that the rule proposal is a big deal for him, and, two, that he’s concerned it won’t pass.  He’s playing the player safety card because it’s the way to get a change in the rule this season and because it’s easier to generate support for this than it is for a debate over tactics.

What I can’t figure out are his motives.  Why the rush?  I have a hard time believing he’s that insecure about defending HUNH offenses. He’s smart and his program recruits better than any other in the country.  Something doesn’t add up.

Not to mention he’s handing Alabama’s biggest rival a most handy club to bash him with on the recruiting trail.

“It’s a joke, is what it is,” Jacobs said in an interview with this week. “Everything’s going faster in sports. You get penalized if you don’t play fast enough in golf. Now you’ve got pitch counts in baseball to throw a pitch. And to think we’re slowing something down without any data is just ridiculous to me. The thing about it is, kids today, they love playing in this hurry-up type offense because it’s fun. So if you like to have fun, you need to go to a place like Auburn.”

Is it just about screwing with what Auburn does?  You got me.


UPDATE:  Jon Solomon makes a similar point, with a twist.

… There are potentially more meaningful, under-the-radar ways than the 10-second rule to help player safety.

1. Reduce the number of games.

Good luck seeing that happen. That would be one less home game for schools to generate revenue. But it’s the easiest and simplest way to guarantee fewer hits to a player during the course of a season and his career. Saban, who wants to reduce the exposure for players, is the loudest proponent for a ninth conference game in the SEC, which is considered the most physically-demanding conference.

When Florida State won the national championship in 1999, the Seminoles played 12 total games the whole season. The Seminoles played 14 games last season to win the national title. If they reach the national title game next season in the new College Football Playoff, they will have likely played 15 games.

Florida State’s offense had 15 percent more total plays in 2013 than in 1999, and the Seminoles’ defensive plays increased by 29 percent. Yet Florida State’s plays per game on offense barely moved up from 68.3 in 1999 to 68.7 in 2013. Tempo adds to more plays for many teams in football today, but not necessarily to the toll more games places on the body.

Football coaches and a handful of conferences (the ACC was one) lobbied against 12 games when the change occurred in 2005. More leagues (including the ACC) have added conference championship games since then. Not to mention, what about the exposure to hits that overmatched teams face against elite teams due to more guarantee games being added by an extra game?

The maximum number of games most college football players in the early 2000s could have played over a four-year career was 48. Starting next season, the four-year maximum will be 60. College football’s hunt for money means up to an entire regular season could be added onto players’ bodies over the course of their career.  [Emphasis added.]

One thing more important than player safety is bank balance stability.



Filed under Nick Saban Rules, Strategery And Mechanics

16 responses to “Saban goes Bert.

  1. DawgPhan

    It is funny to see him this insecure. He should be much more confident than this, but there he is making these awful analogies.


  2. Rp

    Losing out on one out of the last three NC’s really has him spooked. He’s just making the best case he can think of right now to tilt the odds back in his favor.


  3. Mark

    More plays equals more injuries is not always sound logic. There are more variables involved than just plays. Conditioning matters. Who you are playing against matters. The style of play matters. Now, all things being equal (i.e. two power teams playing, or two speed teams), then sure, that would mean more injuries. But the conditioning of the speed teams, and the style of offense may mean more plays for them but less injuries overall for that team than a power team.

    That said, it is true that more plays means more injuries for that team. But that’s not the same thing as saying that more plays for a speed team means more injuries for that team per game than the power teams will have. That’s probably as clear as mud.

    The point I am making is that the rate of injury for a speed team may actually be less than the rate of injury for a power team.


  4. ASEF

    Again, I think it’s as simple as this: it burns him to see offensive coaches getting to make strategic decisions play by play while defensive coaches cannot. An offensive coach can rush his team to the line, freeze the defense, and then figure out his play calls. And there isn’t really anything the defensive coach can do at that point. For his entire coaching life, offensive and defensive coaches could make adjustments between plays. Now, only one side of the ball can really do that. For better or worse, and people on both sides of that divide have strong opinions.

    I am not defending his position. Just explaining where I think it probably comes from.


    • Well stated in a nutshell – the HUNH has neutralized the ability of defensive coaches to make situational substitutions if the offense doesn’t substitute (and even sometimes when they do – thanks, officials). It also makes it very difficult to get calls in from the sideline where the defense has time to disguise what it’s trying to do.

      If the 10-second rule passes, it will do nothing to change this part of the game. The only thing it may do is allow the defense to get into position and into their stance.


    • Mr. Tu

      This is exactly the issue, and I think it is easy to solve. No need for a 10 second rule. Simply make a rule that once you line up at the line of scrimmage, the offense has to run a play or the QB can change the play. However, there can be no signal from the sidelines, placards, etc. after that point. If a signal comes in after the offense lines up, it is a 5 yard penalty


      • 69Dawg

        That rule would be unenforceable. There would have to be an official in the press box with binoculars to determine if the sidelines was signaling in the play. What I don’t under stand is the O comes up to the line and seems to line up then everybody stands up and looks to the side lines. Just make that illegal procedure. The ability of the whole team to get the signal directly from the bench has altered the game as much as the coach running in the plays with a back or guard altered it.. If only the QB gets to look get the signal then he would have to audible the play and the home team would have an advantage. Think Peyton Manning and his crazy ass Omaha, it works at home but it sucks on the road.


  5. David K

    It’s hard to accept but I think ole Gus has gotten in his head.


  6. Charles

    I think this is rooted in entitlement. It’s not enough to churn out five recruiting classes over four years. Nor is it enough to have a stellar run over the past six years. And set aside the layers upon layers of consultants, analysts, assistants, etc.

    Nick Saban shouldn’t have to adapt because… well… he’s Nick Saban. He’s honed Alabama’s depth chart for years, and he won’t be inconvenienced by the mere possibility of taking his lumps (a few two/three-loss seasons at worst) while toggling accordingly. His roster management practices will get him the players he needs in only two or three recruiting cycles.

    “The process” shouldn’t be vulnerable to competitive dynamics. Because Nick said so.


  7. Macallanlover

    Not taking his side but didn’t he lose to two of the three hurry up offenses he played, and give up over 40 against the other? I can see why it is a concern for an “old dog” to adjust to. He will certainly make adjustments but I am sure he would prefer to maintain a winning formula.


  8. Is it just about screwing with what Auburn does?

    I’m not seeing an issue with this. 😉


  9. up to 16 times if you choose to play hawaii


  10. AusDawg85

    2013….the year Mark Richt lost control of UGA’s SEI ratio.


  11. The question about Saban’s motivation in this crusade is really interesting. Is it possible that he just doesn’t like the HUNH as a matter of personal preference?

    The more likely answer to me is that he realizes that he would have to overhaul how builds his teams. Having watched what OU has gone through in the Big 12, putting together a roster that can defend the HUNH effectively means recruiting different types of players at nearly every position. All that stuff about “defensive tackles must weigh no less than 304.5 pounds and have index fingers at least 6.7 inches long” would have to change to some degree. It requires different kinds of players and different kinds of schemes.