Saban Rule



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Last updated: 02/14/2014 3:18 AM
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NCAA Commitee Considers Rule to Slow Down Offenses

By Patrick Murphy

It looks like Alabama’s Nick Saban may win again. This time the victory wouldn’t be on the field, though it may help him to victory in the future.

Wednesday, an NCAA committee passed a proposal that would require offenses to wait until the play clock reaches 29 seconds before snapping the ball. This would allow defenses to substitute.

The rule would result in a five yard penalty if teams snap the ball too quickly. The exception would be in the final two minutes of each half, allowing teams to run their standard two-minute offense.

Saban, whose team plays a more traditional, pro-style offense, said during the 2012 season, “We should look at how fast we allow the game to go in terms of player safety.” He went on to say that players are more likely to be injured when they are not prepared.

“I just think there’s got to be some sense of fairness in terms of asking, ‘is this what we want football to be?’”

Saban and Arkansas’ Brett Bielema spoke their concerns of the up-tempo, no-huddle offenses to the committee before their vote.

Alabama lost twice last season. Both losses come against up-tempo offenses – Auburn and Oklahoma. Bielema finished his first season in charge of Arkansas with a 3-9 record, struggling against all styles of offense.

The committee stated that the rule change would not actually slow down offenses because, according to their research, most fast-paced offenses don’t snap the ball before 30 seconds remain on the play clock.

Many coaches though disagreed, coming out against the rule change when it was proposed. These included Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin, and Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez, who all run up-tempo offenses.

Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy suggested on Twitter that this rule would make the sport “boring.”

Since Urban Meyer took over Ohio State, the Buckeyes have run a no-huddle offense so this rule would directly affect them. Though OSU’s offense rarely snaps the ball within 10 seconds, they do hurry to the line to prevent defensive substitutions. This would not be allowed under this new rule.

This could also impact teams in goal line situations, where they attempt to hurry to the line and sneak the ball before the defense can get their players set.

The rule still must be approved by the playing rules oversight panel, which will meet on March 6. Before that, coaches can voice their opinion electronically to the NCAA. Though it is rare for the committee to revisit a proposal, it has been occurred in the past.

Hurry-up offenses have historically given the underdog a better chance by not allowing the favored team’s defense to play to their strengths and use their depth, though it has since been adopted by some of the top teams in college football.

Changing this rule will certainly change college football, which has been moving towards faster offenses and higher scoring games.

Saban asked if we really want this for college football. The real question is, do we really want to take the speed of play away from college football?

Related Story: NCAA Amends Targeting Rule

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