Too Late Not to Draw Battle Lines Over Slowing Down the HUNH
Last week the debate over slowing down the Hurry-Up-No-Huddle offenses was put to bed when the NCAA’s Rules Committee withdrew their 10 second proposal to slow the college football game down. However, that doesn’t mean the debate is going away. Not while Nick Saban and Bret Bielema still have a pulpit to speak from.
Feeling the heat from ninety three college coaches and numerous media types, the committee wisely decided to follow Gus Malzahn’s recommendation and table the proposal. But make no mistake, the issue is not dead. There will be numerous studies over the next year by those who wish to stop the HUNH; in an effort to find evidence – any evidence that could show it pose’s a safety threat to athletes.
You can cloak yourself in the garb of “player safety” all 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 teams.” Coincidence? Not hardly.
Saban has never made a secret of his distaste for the innovative offense. He fired his first salvo against the HUNH after the 2012 Ole Miss game when he said, “Should we allow football to be a continuous game? Is that the way the game was designed to play?”
But the battle lines were clearly drawn when the odd couple took it upon themselves to fly to Indianapolis in an effort to influence the Rules Committee to change the way the game is played. It will remain a hot topic at media days and conference meetings for the next 12 months.
The outcry over the Indy trip was a new experience for Saban. Usually accustomed to being portrayed as the king of college football, it had to be both surprising and frustrating for the little emperor to have his actions questioned by a normally adoring media.
After keeping silent for two weeks, and feeling the backlash from the coaching community, Saban finally came out and said he had nothing to do with the 10 second proposal. – Yeah, right.
Then sensing the possible failure of the “safety” excuse, Saban came up with the notion this week that he really wants to protect the refs by making sure they’re in place at the start of the play. It’s just another line in a continuous web spun by the tortoise to slow down the Hare.
First it was :
* Should we allow the game to be continuous?
* Next he jumped on the Bret Bielema “safety” wagon.
* Now he says he is concerned about the refs being in place.
That last one is no more legitimate than the safety ruse. Besides any officiating problems that might occur can be addressed by adopting the Big 12’s practice of having eight officials in conference games.
It is painfully obvious that what he is most concerned about is a competitive advantage or more accurately being at a disadvantage. Someone has built a better mousetrap and either Nick can’t or he won’t go back to the drawing board to figure a way to stop it short of asking for the rules to be changed.
Steve Spurier who runs a traditional offense at South Carolina says he’s had no problem defending against the HUNH. His Gamecocks have beaten Clemson’s high octane offense the last three years. Spurier said there is no big secret to it,” To me, the No Huddle is part of football.” He continued, “Our goal is to stay on the field and run that clock and all (the opposing offense) can do is sit on the sideline and look at each other.” That’s simple enough.
But what is disturbing is the people that still allow themselves to be influenced by Saban. Steve Shaw, the SEC’s Coordinator of officials told Al.com Monday, “My hope is that people won’t draw the battle lines. We’ll have a year cycle to debate this, not just for safety, but the competitive balance of the game.”
Did you get that? He’s referring to Saban’s position of a ‘competitive balance.’ While saying he doesn’t want to see people take sides on the issue, he may have tipped his hand with this statement. He seems to be leaning toward Tuscaloosa himself.
Anyway, it’s too late for the college football world to not be divided into battle lines over this issue. That ship sailed when Saban and Bielema chose to fly to Indianapolis to try and pull a fast one on the other coaches.