NCAA Proposed Rule Change Could Limit Up-Tempo Offenses


Via: ESPN and The Associated Press

Every offseason, the NCAA rules committee meets to discuss College Football, assess the current rules and gameplay and determine what (if any) rules need be changed or added. Yesterday, many coaches were blindsided by a proposed rule change that would drastically limit the up-tempo offenses we have grown accustomed to seeing.

Under the proposed rules, offenses that snap the ball before 29 seconds remain on the play clock would receive a 5-yard delay-of-game penalty. Yes ... delay of game for snapping the ball to quickly. Let that soak in for a second.

The committee's proposal would also allow defensive players to substitute within the first 10 seconds of the 40-second play clock, except for the final two minutes of each half.

Current rules state that defensive players aren't guaranteed the opportunity to substitute unless the offense first substitutes. Under the proposal, this policy would remain when the play clock starts at 25 seconds.

This proposed rule change is a direct blow to the up-tempo offenses that have become very common in college football. It is no surprise that coaches like Alabama's Nick Saban and Arkansas' Bret Bielema are in favor of this rule change as their teams were near the bottom of average plays per game in 2014.

The NCAA and those who support this rule are claiming that it is a player safety issue.

"This rules change is being made to enhance student-athlete safety by guaranteeing a small window for both teams to substitute," Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, chair of the rules committee, said in a prepared statement. "As the average number of plays per game has increased, this issue has been discussed with greater frequency by the committee in recent years and we felt like it was time to act in the interests of protecting our student-athletes."

The committee, which met this week in Indianapolis, believes 10 seconds of substitution time wouldn't inhibit offenses from operating quickly. It points to research that states that offenses rarely snap the ball before 30 seconds remain on the play clock.

Needless to say, the proposal to slow down offenses will have a hard time passing as many coaches are taking to the media and pushing back.

"It's ridiculous," said Arizona's Rich Rodriguez.

Rodriguez has also been at the forefront of the fast football trend.

"For me it goes back to the fundamental rules of football," Rodriguez said. "The offense knows where they are going and when they are going to snap the ball. That's their advantage. The defense is allowed to move all 11 guys before the ball is snapped. That's their advantage.

"What's next? You can only have three downs? If you play that extra down you have more chance of injury."

Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze said he found out about the proposal when he got a phone call from Auburn's Gus Malzahn, a fellow advocate of up-tempo offense.

"I said, 'Y'all are kidding me. That's not true,' " Freeze said he told Malzahn.

Freeze said he was skeptical of the health risks presented by up-tempo offense because he's never seen any data to support the claim.

"I would think they would have some type of study that proves that," he said.

Rodriguez has been pushing the pace with his teams for more than two decades and doesn't buy safety concerns.

"If that was the case wouldn't every team that went fast in practice have more injuries?" he said.

Freeze and Rodriguez both said their offenses rarely get plays off within 10 seconds of the ball being spotted.

"If they say it's not occurring anyway, why put in a rule?" Freeze said. "I just don't really understand what we gain from this other this rule other than a chance to create more chaos."

It's not just the up-tempo coaches who voiced their disapproval with the proposal.

"I just spent two days at Big Ten meetings and it wasn't even brought up," Rutgers coach Kyle Flood said. "It doesn't make sense to me."

The Scarlet Knights ranked 84th in the country in plays per game (71).

Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville, a former defensive coordinator whose team averaged 78 plays per game (28th in the nation), said the proposal was never discussed during last month's American Football Coaches of Association convention.

"This came out of left field," he said. "It's wrong."

Other proposed rules modifications include:

- Blocks below the waist would now be allowed in typical line play, as long as they come from the front. Below the waist blocks from the side or back would not be allowed.

- A 10-second run off would be enforced for any injury timeouts that occur with less than a minute to play in each half.

- Spiking would only be permitted with three seconds on the clock or more remaining. If the ball is snapped with two or one seconds to play, the offense must run a play.

- A player changing numbers during a game must report the change to the referee, who will then announce the change. No more USC-Colorado situations allowed.

- Players would not be allowed to have the same number if they play the same position. Teams could still have two No. 7s, for instance, but they both can't play quarterback.

- Teams would have to wear either pants or jerseys that do not match the field. So Boise State would not be able to wear its all-blue uniforms.

- Officials would be permitted to communicate through electronic headsets.

- The Big 12 would be permitted to experiment with using an eighth official on the field for conference games.

- Instant replay would be allowed to adjust the clock at the close of each quarter. Previously, instant replay was only used to adjust the clock at the end of each half.


What are your thoughts in the proposed rule changes? Sound off below! 



James Schleicher

James Schleicher is the publisher of Horns Illustrated magazine. He's also a fifth generation Texan and lifelong Austinite. Follow @HornsIllus twitter to keep up with all things Horns Illustrated.