Damn it, Steve Shaw. This could have been a contendah.
During the offseason, there was quiet discussion that could have potentially turned college football’s offensive revolution upside down.
The NCAA Football Rules Committee considered making reviewable a long-standing rule that allows offensive lineman to block up to 3 yards downfield on a pass, according to Steve Shaw, NCAA secretary-rules editor.
Can you imagine the bricks that would have been shat on the Gus Bus had that been put into effect? Actually, yes.
“We’ve got great rules right now,” said Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, one of the nation’s best at running RPO concepts. “Three yards downfield is fair. College football is fine. That’s what high school has done. That’s what people want to see.”
Yeah, Gus, coaches cheating on the rules is what I pay good money to watch.
It’s apparent there’s a problem with the officials on the field keeping up with RPOs.
“What makes that call so difficult is you can be up to 3 yards [downfield] when the pass is thrown,” Shaw told CBS Sports. “What that means is, at that release point, you’ve got to frame the field. The umpire — the guy right behind the defense — used to be the guy for that. That ball goes overhead and you see a guy 5 yards downfield. You’ve got to map [the lineman] back to where he was.”
So what’s the problem with providing an eye in the sky to help? Evidently what scared Shaw and his cohorts off was the possibility of (more?) delays.
“There was conversation in the rules committee, ‘Should we make it reviewable?'” Shaw said. “The concern now is, every pass play, [you] put yourself in the replay seat. You can’t let the game start unless you review ineligibles downfield.”
Current Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham had a quick reaction. It’s hard to imagine stopping a game every time there is a question whether is improperly downfield. College games are long enough. In 2016, the average length of a game was the longest in history: 3 hours, 24 minutes.
“It would be interesting if that were a rule change,” Stidham said. “Games might turn into 5 ½-hour games.”
Or maybe, after throwing a couple of flags to take away big gains, the threat of reviews might encourage certain teams to play within the rules. We’ll never know. Thanks, Steve!