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RandBall: College football slowdown rule makes no sense

  • Blog Post by: Michael Rand
  • February 14, 2014 - 9:54 AM

It takes a while to connect the dots of ridiculousness in the ongoing story of a new NCAA football rule that would slow down offenses, but if you have a little patience you'll get there.

The AP story starts like this:

Alabama coach Nick Saban and Arkansas coach Bret Bielema voiced their concerns about the effects of up-tempo, no-huddle offenses on player safety to the NCAA committee that passed a proposal to slow down those attacks.

Neither Saban nor Bielema were on the committee and they did not vote on the proposal passed Wednesday to allow defenses time to substitute between plays by prohibiting offenses from snapping the ball until 29 seconds are left on the 40-second play clock.

OK, safety is good. Let's hear more about why it is unsafe to run plays earlier in the clock.

Many, many paragraphs later:

The committee said the proposed change addresses concerns that defensive players are at increased risk for injury because defenses cannot substitute if the offense goes straight to the line scrimmage when the ball is spotted and the 40-second clock has starts. ... NCAA coordinator of officials Rogers Redding said the proposal was not made based on a study of data.

"I can't say there is hard physical evidence," he said. "It's more common sense."

So there is really no proof that a rule passed because they want to protect players will actually protect players. Really, they just have a sentiment that faster is more dangerous.

Or maybe they found that the hot-button yet rather nebulous issue of "player safety" was a way to pass a rule that benefits more conventional offenses run by ... whoa, guys like Saban and Bielema.

Coaches that run up-tempo offenses -- including one who is a man, who is 40 -- are upset, and rightfully so. Maybe there is a safety concern, and maybe this could be a good rule. But maybe come into this with at least a tiny shred of evidence?

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