It seemed to start at the Southeastern Conference media days, and it has continued as preseason practice begins. Bret Bielema, the new head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks, is not a fan of the up-tempo offenses that some teams use in college football today.
And he’s letting everyone know about it.
The Arkansas head man is not the only SEC head coach to speak out against the fast offenses, which keep defenses on the field and don’t allow them to substitute for fear of having too many men on the field and/or having the defense be out of position. Nick Saban, head coach of the defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide, also does not like to face such teams.
Bielema says that this offers an unfair advantage to the offense and could cause defensive players to get injured with greater regularity. Coaches that use the fast-paced offenses agree, and they say that they are gaining an advantage without breaking any rules.
Gus Malzahn, new head coach of the Auburn Tigers, had a back-and-forth with Bielema at SEC media days. Each man believes in what he is doing, and each will continue to do their own thing.
At this point, Bielema (and Saban, for that matter) are wrong in their argument. While it may not be good for defensive players to face an up-tempo offense, it is also not against the rules. Defenses can avoid having to face extended drives against these offenses if they can stop them, and that’s what they need to do to get off the field.
Saban, despite his lamenting against up-tempo offenses, has also figured out that if you have superior talent on defense, this argument becomes a moot point — and that’s the scheme to stop these offenses.
Bielema should follow the Saban script and build a defense that can stop any offense. If he does, this conversation will simply be unnecessary in the future.