Friday from the Eagle’s Nest – Special Investigative Report
With recent developments coming to light, it has been revealed that University of Arkansas head football coach Bret Bielema and University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban are two key supporters of a radical proposed NCAA rule change that would drastically limit the pace at which offenses could operate.
Having been fascinated by the possible implications of such a rule change and the monumental stupidity required to even believe it should be put into place, I sat down with both Bielema and Saban individually to discuss their reasons for advocating such a cause and what led them to their pitiful state.
Derrick Roberts: First off, thank you for setting aside time from your busy schedule to speak with me – Could you briefly summarize your position on the proposed rule-change that would penalize offenses for snapping the football too quickly in certain situations?
Bret Bielema: It’s no problem. Trust me, I’m in no hurry. Really what it boils down to, for me, is that I’ve found offenses have the ability to know what they’re going to do to move the football long before I can – as a coach – figure that out. And so basically I don’t have time to figure out what is going to happen – so that I can stop them.
DR: But isn’t that an offense’s goal? To be as deceptive as possible? Therefore more difficult to defend?
BB: Well, yes and no. It would really depend on who you ask. In my first 10 years as a head coach I would have my quarterbacks literally outline the play we were about to run verbatim to the opposing defense.
DR: Interesting. And how well did those offenses perform?
BB: I want to preface this by saying I don’t ever like to evaluate my offense’s performance based on points scored or even first downs gained – We scored 19 points.
DR: You averaged 19 points a game? That’s not terrible.
BB: Actually it was just the 19 points. Total. For the decade.
DR: Oh I see…
BB: Honestly though – and I know you understand this – if you just don’t have the athletes that fit into your system, you are going to struggle no matter what. That’s the price you pay however, for doing genius work. It’s always going to seem wacky or downright stupid from the outside looking in until things begin to fall into place.
DR: Genius work, you say? Expound upon that if you would…
BB: Sure thing. I feel like I’m on the cusp of bringing a lot of radical approaches to the forefront of college football. I know it may seem like I’m only interest in altering the way offense is played, but I’ve got a lot to bring to the table on both sides of the line of scrimmage. Like my ’12 Man’ defensive formation.
“Look at what the Seahawks accomplished in the Super Bowl a few weeks ago by only pretending to know and run my defense.”
I’ve been to countless Texas A&M football games and more recently the Seattle Seahawks. They both boast about being the “Home of the 12th Man.” Well, I’ve counted their personnel for every defensive snap and they send 11 men onto the field every single time. At first I was worried they had stolen a few pages from my playbook, but I eventually found out that it was all one big decoy. They only wanted to make other teams think they knew my secret to the ’12 Man’ defense. It seems to still be a pretty effective approach regardless. Look at what the Seahawks accomplished in the Super Bowl a few weeks ago by only pretending to know and run my defense.
That’s really only the beginning though – I’ve got tons of cutting edge stuff I’m working on. Like for example – why can’t I get the ball on defense some? Why does the offense always have to be the one to possess the football? Stop me if I’m lying, but I think every football fan in America would want to see what a Ray Lewis or Brian Urlacher could do taking snaps on the field.
DR: I literally don’t believe the series of words that just left your mouth.
BB: I’d say that’s the typical reaction. It’s a shame too, but my ideas are simply too far ahead of their time. People can’t seem to wrap their heads around them. I’m coming to terms with that one day at a time though.
DR: Well they are interesting if nothing else. Before we end our discussion – if there were one thing you could say to the NCAA rules committee to persuade them to put these new rule changes into place, what would it be?
BB: I’d say slower offenses are better, safer, and most importantly – the most straightforward to defend. I’m a football genius. I know all there is to know about the game, but stopping an offense that doesn’t run at my preferred pace is something I shouldn’t be forced to figure out when I’ve figured a lot of other things out.
Derrick Roberts: Coach Saban I’d like to thank you for giving me a second of your time. How would you sum up your feelings towards fast-paced offenses and the proposed rule-change you support that would slow them down?
Nick Saban: For nearly a hundred years, the game of football has been played the same way. Offenses have played the same way. For all of a sudden – some half-wit high-school “guru” with a new idea and sweater vest – to come along and flip all of that conventional wisdom on its head is completely absurd.
DR: But football has changed in the past decades and has transformed immensely since its earliest beginnings. What about the “radical” move to make the forward pass legal?
NS: For starters, the forward pass being legitimized is a terrible example because it’s common knowledge that the U.S. Government – much like they did with gasoline and other national resources – rationed NFL runningbacks during wartime and forced teams into developing an alternative.
DR: I don’t think that’s accurate at all.
NS: It’s totally the same as ‘A League of their Own’ starring Tom Hanks.
DR: Somehow I imagined you being much more grounded in reality…
NS: Well the reality of the situation is we’ve got offenses running rampant all over college football like bandits and outlaws in the old Wild West. Fans don’t want to come to the stadium on Saturday nights in the fall just to be robbed blind by Jesse James.
DR: So would you then equate an offense like Auburn’s performance against your defense a case of ‘highway robbery’?
NS: If you want to put it delicately, then yes.
DR: I feel like we’ve gotten off-track.
“It’s totally the same as ‘A League of their Own’ starring Tom Hanks.”
NS: We certainly have. The game of football used to be about simple formations, limited creativity, and predictability on offense. Now it seems more and more coaches want to devise some blasphemous scheme to catch defenses off guard and move the football down field more efficiently. Well, if they want to make a “new football” I am going to make my own “new football” with rules that compensate for my lack of ability to adjust to their dirty ways.
DR: But if the play-clock is running, shouldn’t the team on offense be allowed to snap the ball at any given time?
NS: Of course. As long as it has been running at least 10 seconds previously and my defense is properly aligned and adjusted to the exact play about to be run.
DR: Well I don’t suppose that’s too demanding of you.
NS: It certainly isn’t. In its original form, this proposed rule also involved the backs and receivers having to tie their shoes together with their shoestrings and the quarterback having to recite the capitals of 10 U.S. states before being allowed to attempt a forward pass. I’d say they are getting off easy.
DR: If nothing else, Coach Saban, you are certainly fair.
In conclusion – my journey provided many more questions than answers and did little to convey the actual advantages of the proposed rule-change. Saban and Bielema are tragically just two little children that want to take their ball and go home, but without a way to stop college football’s hottest new offense – they may be forced to go home without it.