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*** Official thread on proposed 10-second rule change

  • Chris Walsh

    Ok, I know this is on a lot of people's mind, and like you I'm really curious to see how this plays out over the next couple of weeks.

    Here's today's Associated Press story on the latest developments:

    Not so fast, college football offenses.

    A proposed change by the NCAA rules committee would prohibit offenses from snapping the ball until at least 10 seconds had run off the 40-second play clock, slowing down the up-tempo, no-huddle attacks that have been making defenses dizzy.

    The rule allows defenses time to make a substitution without the offense changing players — as is currently required — and with no fear the ball will be snapped before 29 seconds are left on the play clock. An exception will be made for the final two minutes of each half, when the offense can snap the ball as quickly as it wants.

    "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 football rules committee, said in a statement Wednesday. "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 also proposed a change to the targeting rule that would eliminate the 15-yard penalty when instant replay officials overturn an ejection. Last year, when a targeting penalty was called, the 15-yard penalty stood even if the replay official determined the player should be allowed to stay in the game.

    Both proposals need approval from the playing rules oversight panel, which is schedule to consider them on March 6.

    The proposal to slow down offenses will have a hard time passing if the many coaches who run up-tempo these days have anything to say about it.

    "It's ridiculous," said Arizona's Rich Rodriguez, who has been at the forefront of the fast football trend.

    "For me it goes back to the fundamental rules of football. 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 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 told Malzahn.

    This is a non-rules change year for the NCAA, but exceptions can be made for rules that affect player safety.

    There was much discussion about the pace of the game last season, with some coaches — most notably Alabama's Nick Saban and Arkansas' Bret Bielema — questioning whether something needed to be done to slow down offenses. Safety concerns were cited because of the increased number of plays. The fastest-moving teams — such as Arizona and Ole Miss — average more than 80 plays per game. Texas Tech led the country with 90.3 plays per game last season.

    Arkansas ran 64.7 plays per game, 121 out of 125 FBS teams. Alabama was at 65.9, 116th in the country.

    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.

    The committee said "10 seconds provides sufficient time for defensive player substitutions without inhibiting the ability of an offense to play at a fast pace. Research indicated that teams with fast-paced, no-huddle offenses rarely snap the ball with 30 seconds or more on the play clock."

    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 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."

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    Christopher Walsh covers Alabama football for BamaOnline, 247Sports, and is the author of 18 books.

  • I think another thing that this affects, that people arent talking about is that it also gives coaches more time to decide on whether or not they will challenge a play. As it stands, offenses are able to snap the ball as soon as it is set, making coaches considering challenge decisions for the defensive team have to think quickly before they make a decision. Meanwhile, offensive teams have the entirety of the play clock to choose whether to challenge the ruling on the previous down. Meaning that offensive teams have time to hear from the coaches box and look at replays to decide to challenge while defenses do not. This might help to make that process a tad fairer for the defensive team.

    That being said, I do not believe that the change will go through. With the offensive philosophies in the game leaning towards the HUNH I think many coaches will raise hell as the decision looms.

    This post was edited by silfamily 2 months ago

  • Here's my take on it:
    First of all, I think if it's backed up by 'player safety' it's a pretty weak argument. I get the thought process: less plays = less injuries. Which that logic, in and of itself does make sense. But, as has been pointed out, there isn't evidence to back it up, and there wouldn't be that many less plays anyways. The true heart of the matter, in my opinion, is that football has been a game that hasn't given offenses the opportunity to switch players in and out whenever they want to, while not affording the defense the same opportunity. This rule had never been a huge issue until the HUNH came along because the defense could switch people out after almost any play regardless of if the offense did because they were taking 20 seconds before each snap anyways. The supporters of the rule (besides just fans of teams that don't run the HUNH) think that it gets beyond the spirit of the game to have the same 11 guys on the field on both sides for an entire 4 minute drive, just because the HUNH team scrambles up to the line before they sit there for 15 seconds to call their plays. Also, the rule encourages rotating in younger guys or bench guys that might not have gotten playing time in the current format. Do I think that these things justify a rule change? Hell, I don't know. Maybe? I know I'd probably be pretty pissed about it if we had a HUNH offense and this got implemented. Either way, I think that's why the rule is getting serious consideration NOT because of player safety.

  • Seems to me another issue is the old school chess matches that a lot of Coaches enjoy versus the trend of Football in general becoming more like a 7 on 7 tournament.

    Interesting enough, a group of high school coaches I meet up with every now and then thinks the trend is going to flag football or lighter contact with safety, lawsuits, and other risks and money issues. Surprised me at how convinced they are that major rule changes are around the corner.

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  • destinjay

    these hunh offenses are essentially "huddling" at the LOS. they're taking advantage of a rule that was not written with these offenses in mind. just like saban was taking advantage of spring recruiting visits - the rules were changed to accommodate the initial intent.
    what's the problem here anyway? are these hunh offenses afraid of playing against the best personnel in a given situation? the answer is obviously "yes".

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  • Did anyone else find it funny and odd how Malzahn picked up the phone to cry to Freeze about the proposal? #BFF

  • Rather have the 10 second rule than the fake injuries like European soccer

  • renobama said... (original post)

    Rather have the 10 second rule than the fake injuries like European soccer

    Agree. If a player writhes or piddles around on the ground he should have to sit out longer than what's required now unless it's an equipment malfunction. For player safety of course.

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  • Like TR said earlier they need to concentrate on enforcing the rules in place. The prob is we got so rule happy we have really hindered one side of the ball. The refs need to slow the game down for themselves. To make sure one side is not dictating the game in a way the refs can not call it fair. If a team is dictating the game with pure dominance fine, but not by trying to manipulate it so much the refs can't catch blatant rules being broken.

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    Roll Tide!

  • Bamaducks said... (original post)

    Agree. If a player writhes or piddles around on the ground he should have to sit out longer than what's required now unless it's an equipment malfunction. For player safety of course.

    How about if it's a poorly disguised injury play ala auburn's fake injury play.

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    Ronald Reagan: Man is not free unless government is limited.

  • Screw em, why? Because Karma is a Bi$%*. Remember when it wasn't "fair" that CNS was allowed to recruit his ass off and bring in over 25 schollies in a year? Remember how things were put into place to slow him down??? Hello boys, he's back. I say pass the rule and let them learn how to play football again.

  • Chris Walsh said... (original post)

    "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 rule other than a chance to create more chaos."

    The answer to this question is so obvious, yet people who are against the rule keep asking it. Everyone ask yourselves why they are so outraged by the rule if they don't even understand how it will affect the game. Then ask yourselves why they feel the need to hide why they are outraged by it.

    This post was edited by threepeat 2 months ago

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  • Call me old fashioned, etc., but I don't believe football was ever intended to be a continuous game like soccer or basketball. The offense lines up and runs a play against the defense with a break in between plays. Imagine if a pitcher was allowed to pitch as fast as he wanted to regardless if the batter was ready or not. I know it's within the rules, but HUNH is too much like a video game to me.

  • So im just throwing this out there since it has not been talked about. The effects of recruiting because of this. Sounds a little crazy, but put yourself in the shoes of say...DeAnthony Thomas. He is extremely fast, quick, agile, but at 170 pounds he would not fit into our system unless he played CB, WR. If the HUNH can be run by an below average QB like Nick Marshall and yet it cant be run "exactly right" now, would Marshall still be looking to play CB and not CB? You are seeing guys imitate Manziel, Cam, but now you are kinda against the rules now. This rule does not clear everything up but I think its a step in the right direction. We will see how it turns out, but if it has a huge effect on the ability to run the gimmicky HUHN, players may quick looking to be like DAT, Marshall, and others. Still think many QBs benefit from their legs, but the pace of the game running a HUNH eliminates aspects of the defense. Making the game 3 on 3 with speed being the Xfactor at QB. What would AU look like without it? Imagine Marshall having to throw 25+ passes a game. Imagine playing AU with 11 players, and not only half the field because of the gimmicky smoke and mirrors. This is football, not basketball...but if they did have to play the game the "right" way. Ohh boy..that would have been a beating.

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  • silfamily said... (original post)

    I think another thing that this affects, that people arent talking about is that it also gives coaches more time to decide on whether or not they will challenge a play. As it stands, offenses are able to snap the ball as soon as it is set, making coaches considering challenge decisions for the defensive team have to think quickly before they make a decision. Meanwhile, offensive teams have the entirety of the play clock to choose whether to challenge the ruling on the previous down. Meaning that offensive teams have time to hear from the coaches box and look at replays to decide to challenge while defenses do not. This might help to make that process a tad fairer for the defensive team.

    That being said, I do not believe that the change will go through. With the offensive philosophies in the game leaning towards the HUNH I think many coaches will raise hell as the decision looms.

    Coaches aren't voting on it. The playing rules oversight panel or committee (whatever) are the ones voting on it. They can lobby against it but Coach Saban usually gets what he wants and if for no other reason than all the rules changes have been to benefit the offense. How can they turn down a rule change that benefits the defense for once. Plus, this actually helps the refs and gives them more time to place the ball properly and get set. It really is a win/win for the refs IMO.

  • I hope they pass it...defenses have enough trouble with all of the rules in place favoring the offense, it's time to even the playing field a bit..if they don't pass it, then I hope that referees are instructed to take their time and make sure all of them are in place before the ball is snapped..too many times last year the refs were hurrying it up along with the offense and some were out of position when the ball was snapped..

  • As I recall, there were a lot of HC's against the targeting rule that ejected the player (another rule for the offense) last year and that rule passed. Just because these coaches don't like the rules doesn't necessarily mean the change won't be made.

    This post was edited by abrellbama5818 2 months ago

  • I think it would be a good rule. It gives the refs a chance to get ready for the next play and gives the defense a chance to substitute. I don't think you need to have studies done to show you if you play more plays you have a higher chance of getting hurt especially if you're tired because you couldn't sub out. One thing I would like to see that I haven't been able to find is the average amount of time it takes for these hunh teams to actually snap the ball. I've seen how many plays they run per game but nothing that says how many seconds are off the play clock before they snap

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  • The best argument I have heard in consideration for the rule change is that it would establish a consistent tempo for the referees and line judges to get set for each play so that they could call the games better. I don't mind having an "up-tempo" pace to the game--and I'm not saying this rule is the answer--but I do think that their should be mutual consideration for both sides of the ball.

    Everyone should be able to get set and be adjusted for each play. Football isn't soccer, hockey, basketball, or lacrosse; and, the HUNH ideology is an exploitation of the true intent of the game. A play-clock is 40 seconds because there is intended to be pause--for both the offense and defense to be ready and set--in a game. To me, 10 seconds represents a proper balance for the evolution of the game, its players, and those officiating.

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  • silfamily said... (original post)

    That being said, I do not believe that the change will go through. With the offensive philosophies in the game leaning towards the HUNH I think many coaches will raise hell as the decision looms.

    I had my doubts about it going through as well. But I did see a quote on twitter from a committee member. Paraphrasing it said "proposals are not just rubber-stamped, but a vast majority of proposals are approved".

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  • Could you imagine the complaints coaches would have with Alabama running a fast paced offense to go along with a smothering defense? Can't really think of any teams that had both at the same time. Florida maybe in 2008&2009.

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    2009, 2011, 2012 Champs

  • My main issue... there needs to be time for subs; and officials need to be able to regulate and oversee. Too fast without subs and proper oversight changes the game. Address those... probably within the current rules.

  • A step in the right direction. Many good points on this subject. The best imo is it gives the refs time to get set to make correct calls. Take all the biased opinions in favor offense Or the defense out of it.Reffs are not as young as the players and simply cannot get into postion to see all the plays . Fatigue is real it effects the reffs as well as the defense and the officials cannot sub.
    We must have fair officiating for the integraty of the game. Instant replay was a very good move in the right direction. Should we not want the best called game not by the offensive cooridinator or the defense coord but the officialls. Forgive the writing not a English teacher.

  • This post was edited by Crimson Duck 2 months ago

  • I might modify it to just be on first down giving the refs time to move the chains properly etc. One of the biggest issues for a defense is when you have your dime D out there on 3rd and long, the O makes a first and goes into hunh and runs it right down your throat because you've got you rabbits in and not your heavies - sound familiar.

    It also looks pretty ridiculous when an offense lines up immediately in hunh preventing substitutions and spends the next 30 seconds staring at the sideline while the coaches figure out which play to run next.