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Question: On the EVE of the ‘Saban Rule’ Vote … Will Bert and Nicky Get Away With it?

By on March 5th, 2014 in Football 23 Comments »

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

Loading ... Loading ...

Poll Closed


  1. BigBlue says:

    In an ESPN article dated yesterday, Saban had this to say:

    “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.'”

  2. I have the sneaking suspicion that this rule will pass. If not on the 6th, then at some point down the line. When it does, I will stop following football.

  3. If Bert was pushing it by himself, I don’t believe it would get much traction. It took Saban going to the committee to get them to recommend it to the panel. Like Third Gen Tiger above, I believe it now will be coming up all the time until some version of it passes……Disgusting!

  4. sullivan013 sullivan013 says:

    I smell fear.

    For that is what this is – Saban’s fear of his reputation, popularity with his fan base and his job. His entire resume has been won on a type of defense that has proven vulnerable to the HUNH and he feels little recourse is available without this step. He has struggled to counter what is happening on the field, and so has resorted to this absurdity to accomplish what he fears he can’t otherwise.

    Glorious. Absolutely glorious. Not the proposal and vote, mind you, but the fact that Nick Saban has just screamed ‘MOMIE! He’s hitting Meeeee!” to the NCAA. I don’t know which will be more humiliating for him, failure or success at getting the rule changed and STILL losing the 2014 Iron Bowl.

  5. It would seem to me if the big problem was player injuries due to HUHN, there would be A LOT of video evidence existing that could pinpoint where and when these injuries are occurring. Additionally, this seems to be about Defensive player safety, not about how long the Offense in on the field or how many hits that O-line is taking. Saban runs as many plays as anyone else. Can Saban actually pinpoint a single injury that happened to a player on his team that came during a game playing a HUHN team??? (I’ll wait……)

    (….while I’m waiting…..)If they want to do something legitimate about player safety, then take an honest look at helmets and look at hard data on concussions and the long term effects….that’s effectively doing something CONSTRUCTIVE towards improving player safety.

    And don’t compare college and the NFL. Those boys in the NFL are so much bigger and faster than even the best players on the college level–which often dictates the play and speed of that level of game. And you know what? Concussions (or the risk thereof) occur at every level of football from the pee-wee leagues up to the NFL.

    Oh and in the name of player safety, don’t create rule to defend against an offensive scheme that you aren’t creative enough or smart enough to outmaneuver.

    PS- I really miss Rodriguez being a Mountaineer…..there, I said it.

    • Darbo may have summed it up best:

      “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.” –

    • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

      …..Rich Rod had ’em rolling. I remember ’em taking UGA out in the Sugar Bowl in early 06, and they totally outclassed Auburn in Morgantown in 2008. The 2009 team that took us on in Jordan Hare was vastly superior talent-wise, but kept turning it over. And Malzhan’s offense kept swinging, and Auburn somehow won that game despite trailing 14-3 less than 5 minutes into the game.

    • Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

      …..Saban did have a rash of injuries against Auburn in 2010, but it was all on the offensive side of the ball. Hey, maybe slow offenses cause more injuries? Julio went out with a leg injury in the second half, their other WR starter (who’s name I’m drawing a blank on) was also hurt, and then there was McElroy’s little dirt nap late.

      • So there might be something there….the HUHN typically recruits smaller, faster athletes. So you might imagine that if everyone were smaller, then the impacts of the hits would be less severe. I don’t know; it’s a dangerous sport. What I do know is picking on one scheme versus another won’t solve the problem of concussions and associated long-term damage.

        The goofiest thing to me is that Saban seems concerned only with Defensive player safety, not offensive player safety….so I don’t see how anyone (even him) can parse this ‘rule’ as player safety motivated.

        When I was at WVU, Rich Rod coached teams were fun to watch (outside of the inexplicable loss to Pitt in 2004). I believe Bill Stewart was the head coach in 2008….that was such a crazy time. Bill Stewart wasn’t a great coach, but because he coached a win in the bowl game immediately after Rodriguez’s blaze of glory departure, so he got the top gig. It was still hard to get into the football culture there….there’s A LOT of hate for opponents and the couch burning thing never made sense to me…..Plus my fellow grads didn’t understand why I would still always pull for Auburn in Auburn v WVU….did I mention the hate??

  6. zotus zotus says:

    The slave does his master’s bidding … and, the apparatchiks at the NCAA know what part they’re to play in this little drama.

    Nick Saban has shown he will use any thing or any person to put Nick Saban at a competitive advantage as a football coach. This is Saban’s MO. Always was. Always will be. This upcoming vote to slow down offensive schemes is just the latest example. It won’t be the last.

    Bret Bielema? No way he’s in Saban’s inner-circle coalition on this thing or anything else. Saban used him (as kind of a lightning rod) and will run from Bielema like a scalded dog when this vote is over.

    P.S. I hope Saban & Bielema are at UAT & UAF for a long time. Just the coaches to match their fan bases.


    BTW, on a slightly different subject, anybody ever noticed just how much Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin and Nikolai Ludvik Saban have in common?

  7. The rule committee tabled the vote until 2015. We now have another year to endure Saban’s slimy, underhanded, dealings.

    Owning a car dealership fits his personality perfectly.

  8. wde1988 wde1988 says:

    Saban needs to fire his PR guy.

    The more he tries to distance himself the more guilty he appears. Further, his media lap dogs aren’t doing him any favors either.

    This will stick with him. And that is important to remember. Why? Auburn can beat him… and he will survive as long as he keeps bama competitive. But let Saban step on his own poncho… now we are getting somewhere.


    • wde1988 wde1988 says:

      The percentage of coaches supporting the measure is hovering around 20-25%. That means 75% oppose.

      I think the point has been made.

      BL: offense has upper hand. That means a defensive minded coach needs to build a bigger mouse trap. One would think this would be up Nicky’s alley. Yet… he even with 5 star studded casts (the best money can buy) Nick can only get it done 50 percent of the time. Does that really warrant a statue? Me think not.


  9. spanky says:

    You should caption that pic with:

    Bert: I tried to play slow Mr. Saban, I tried…sob, sob
    Nicky: I know you did Bert, Its ok.

  10. […] you want but even the most delusional bammer knows in his heart this is about wins and losses. As Texas Tech Coach Kliff Kingsbury said, “The last three losses (Saban’s) had, have been against, you know, some up-tempo […]

  11. […] problem breaking rules. Then the biggest controversy was created last month when he and Nick Saban took it upon themselves to get on a plane and fly to Indianapolis to address the NCAA Rules Committee in a clandestine and […]

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