Question: On the EVE of the ‘Saban Rule’ Vote … Will Bert and Nicky Get Away With it?
It’s all coming to a head tomorrow. The ‘Saban Rule’ that is, it’s scheduled for a vote on March 6th by the NCAA playing rules oversight panel. If it passes it could take effect in the 2014 season. The rule would allow defenses time to substitute between plays as well as give defenders some ability to time the snap because play couldn’t start until there are 29 seconds left on the 40-second clock.
Both Saban and his protégé Arkansas head man, Bret Bielema have ostensibly proposed the rule in the interest of player safety. But if you truly believe that argument (and your not a Bama or Arky fan, I have some beautiful beach front property I would like to sell you in the Arizona desert.
The proposal is nothing more than a direct assault on the No-Huddle, Hurry-Up offenses that three SEC West Teams use against Alabama and Arkansas. For example, Auburn would have been penalized four times against Alabama if the rule had been in effect in the 2013 Iron Bowl.
It’s a well known fact that both these men revealed their true intent last summer during SEC Media Days when
Bret Bert told everyone he was going to make the proposal. Then Nick followed up by reiterating a question to reporters he had brought up in 2012, “Should we allow football to be a continuous game? Is that the way the game was designed to play? Is this what we want football to be?”
While Bielema told the committee he talked about it at the January meeting of the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), mysteriously no one at the meeting remembers anything about it. In fact, Cincinnati Coach Tommy Tuberville, who serves on the board of AFCA, told the AP the subject never came up at the association’s annual convention.
To say that coaches across the country felt blindsided by the news would be an understatement. Mr. College Football Tony Barnhart said …
“There are a lot of really mad coaches at the way this rule change was handled.” ESPN polled the 125 Division I coaches and found that 93 were against any rule change that would alter the pace of the game.
Within hours of the almost clandestine way the proposal was handled, coaches began to speak out against the rule. The loudest outcry predictably came from Coaches who run fast paced offenses but not exclusively.
South Carolina Coach Steve Spurier immediately labeled it the “Saban Rule.” Spurrier told USA Today. “So, you want to talk about the ‘Saban Rule’? That’s what I call it. He took it upon himself to go before the rules committee and get it done.” He continued, “They tried to change the rules. But I don’t think they’re gonna get away with it. It’s ridiculous. Let’s let everybody keep playing the way they’ve been playing.”
There is not enough space to list all the comments but on the eve of the committee’s vote we have composed some of the more interesting …
Coaches’ response from around the nation:
* Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M – “There’s a number of problems with how it was handled, just popping up out of nowhere. It struck a bad nerve. All the evidence points to a meeting where one coach got in front of the committee to plead his case ….. There’s also another side to this whole issue. When it comes to player safety, no one can find a coach in college football that doesn’t make that paramount. There is no evidence out there that suggests that this is a player-safety issue. It’s a move to eliminate the amount of creativity that goes into the game, that’s bad for the sport.”
* Mark Richt, Georgia – “I feel like if you can train offensive players to play five or six plays in a row, you can train defensive players to play that many plays in a row, too. I personally don’t think it’s a health-issue deal.”
* Butch Jones, Tennessee – “I want to see data produced from an injury standpoint. I don’t want opinion. I want facts and figures. Show me the numbers … Every program has a style of play, just like every basketball team, from pressing to pushing the ball down the court. Same thing in football. That’s what makes this game; the strategy that goes behind it.”
* Noel Mazone, UCLA – ” “Why don’t we just do away with the play clock and wait for the defense to say they’re ready? We could have the quarterback go over to the other team’s sideline and ask if it’s OK to snap the ball.”
* Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech said he thought Nick Saban was motivated by self-interest. “I mean he showed up to the meeting and made it be known, and I know that the last three losses he’s had have been against, you know, some up-tempo teams.”
* Bobby Bowden, Fla. State (retired) and Vince Dooley, Ga. (retired) “People like offense. Unless they can just show evidence that boys are injured by doing that … leave it alone. Leave it like it is.”
* Dabo Swinney, Clemson – “Most of the time, when you look at defenses, they rotate their defensive line the whole game. Those offensive linemen play just about every snap. So we’re going to sit here and cry for guys who are playing 30 snaps when you’ve got guys on the other side playing 70? Give me a break. It’s an agenda, that’s what it is … The whole thing is ridiculous.”
* Mike Leach, Washington State – “It’s irrational at every level, nothing about it makes sense… The thing that’s most shameful about this is it’s a clear manipulation, through self-interest, by people who don’t want to coach within the parameters where strategy and ingenuity [have] taken the game. So now they want to manipulate the rules, and in needing an excuse to do this, they try to hide behind player safety. It’s ridiculous.”
* Rich Rodriguez, Arizona – If there was big concern with (safety), wouldn’t the teams that practice fast be concerned with it? We don’t have any more injuries because we practice fast. Perhaps Rodriguez gave my favorite response when he made a you tube parody about the two whining twins. If you haven’t seen it, click on this link. It’s a must see video.
After the outpouring of coaches coming out against the Saban Rule, Bert and Nicky have felt the heat and are tweaking their argument. Bilema now says it’s not about injury but about deaths, callously and insensitively citing a Cal player’s passing in an off season training incident as proof. He doggedly continues to say the rule will pass.
For his part, Saban (in an effort to restore his tarnished image) says he wants people to believe he had nothing to do with the 10 second rule. Sorry Nick, that dog just won’t hunt. It’s like Coach Spurier said, “(You) “took it upon yourself to speak to the Committee and try to persuade them to take action,” And “They (Bert and Nick) tried to change the rules. But I don’t think they’re gonna get away with it.”
I hope the Old Ball Coach is right. But I’m not so sure. The little emperor usually gets what he wants. One way or another.
Do you believe the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel will pass some form of the Saban Rule?
- No (75%, 400 Votes)
- Yes (25%, 135 Votes)
Total Voters: 535