As we slowly get beyond the hysteria and knee-jerk reaction surrounding the NCAA Rules Committee’s upcoming decision on the so-called “10-second rule,” some interesting nuggets are rising to the surface.
The sexy headlines in past weeks have been in favor of those crying in the streets over the change. Coaches who, like children, want to sling mud at the man who keeps them up at night.
But one such man has a differing opinion. If anyone thinks Mark Richt is a Nick Saban fan he should have his head examined for post-concussion trauma. Yet Richt has this to say:
The truth is, the opposing side of this rule has taken on the life of politically correct issues where, depending on which side you’re on, you’re the devil. You can’t have an opinion other than that of the punch drunk mainstream or you’re obviously a crybaby trying to play on a field tilted in your favor. The opposite of this couldn’t be more true.
Speaking out in opposition to the rule has become au courant, making you trendy and with the times…especially in the coaching world. The idea of making the game continuous, like soccer or basketball, seems to be the new wave among fans and coaches in desperate search to end the tyranny of Saban’s grip on the college football game. But let me remind you, lots of issues were once au courant until common sense took over. And common sense is where this thing is headed.
Perhaps the biggest dose of common sense came from Florida head coach Will Muschamp:
This is soooo true, for both sides, but I would argue it’s moreso the case for those in favor of officials not being in place to safely call the game they say they love. Having officials miss offensive penalties (which by-in-large come at the beginning of a play) is a benefit coaches who employ cheating into their gameplan want to keep around.
But Saban would argue that these cheating coaches can still play this cheapened brand of football. In a study, the NCAA Rules Committee found that the four leading teams that play this style only snapped the ball on average four times a game faster than the 10-second window the Committee is proposing.
So, as in the old Wendy’s commercial, “Where’s the beef?”
What’s the problem then with the rule? If you’re reading this column now, you already know that answer. Whether you’ll admit it or not is the issue.
Imparting even more common sense, Saban says facilitating more plays goes against everything the NCAA has said it wants to do in the interest of player saftey.
“Everything that we’ve ever done in the NCAA is about exposure. We’ve always tried to limit spring practice, we limit fall camp, we limit the number of days you can hit now. We have acclimation days: so many days in shorts, so many days in shoulder pads. The NFL even limited their practice even more, but really found that more guys get hurt in the games (not practices). The ratio of guys that get hurt in the game is 7 to 1 that guys getting hurt in practice.
“So we’re limiting practice, and playing more plays in the game. College football is the only game in the country, of any kind, that the college game is longer than the pro game. And the disparity in plays run is like 59 to 72 in the NFL – 59 for the lowest-average team, 72 for the highest. You know, in college, it’s more like 61 and 90. Alright, so there’s a large disparity. But that’s just something that people need to look at.”
“I think one thing people don’t understand is they don’t have all the facts about this. I had nothing to do with the idea of the 10-second rule, but the committee decided the 10-second rule because they took 12 games of three fastball teams and they said, ‘OK, how many times did they snap the ball in the first 10 seconds of the play clock?’ It averaged four times a game, so you’re really not changing.”
But getting down to brass tacks, for Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn, and those like him, it all comes down to this.
That’s my paraphrase, but listen to the man speak, past and present, and the drivel dripping from his lips on the issue oozes this notion.
But Nick Saban wants to know why the matter is even an issue. If only four plays a game are affected by the rule, what is Malzahn so scared of? And why can’t this bright coach employ the same common sense the NCAA Rule Committee seems to be adopting?
“I don’t think anybody was trying to change what they do or how they do it, but the fact that they can get on the line and snap it quick, you can’t substitute.” Saban said. “So, that becomes an eventual player safety issue and I think if you ask the guys philosophically, a lot of them that run the offense, they say we want to wear the defense down and get the defense tired. Well, you get the defensive players tired they are going to be more susceptible to getting injured.”
Is it because Loophole U. sees their success fading if they’re forced to adhere to the rules of the game?
Again, Saban speaks and common sense comes forth:
“The NFL officials controlling the pace of the game in that league has, I think, benefited the players and I would like to see the officials be able to control the pace of the game. I think the officials control the pace of the game in all games, but they don’t in college football.”
Again, you know the answer to why Malzahn and his ilk don’t want the same officiating adherance in the college game. Admitting it is the real issue.
And that, friend, is the real nugget that has risen to the surface over this issue.