Nick Saban, Bret Bielema are Wrong About Potential Rule Change

By Tim Letcher
John David Mercer, USA TODAY SPORTS

The NCAA Football Rules Committee is considering a proposal that would penalize a team for actually playing too fast.

What? Seriously? Can there be such a thing as playing too fast?

Apparently so. The committee is recommending a change that would allow the defense to substitute within the first 10 seconds of the 40 second play clock, excluding the last two minutes of each half. So if, say, the Auburn Tigers were putting together one of their fast-paced scoring drives last season, they would have been forced to give the defense a chance to run new players on the field, within the first 10 seconds of the play clock, before running their next play.

The two most outspoken proponents of this measure have been Nick Saban, head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide, and Bret Bielema, head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks. Both coaches spoke out against the trend towards fast-paced offenses last season, citing player safety. Both claim that tired players are more likely to be injured than fresh players.

Rather than have a proposal, these coaches, and others in favor of this rule, should solve the issue on their own. How would they do that? By shutting down opposing offenses and not letting them get into a rhythm where the fast pace would work in their favor.

While coaches like Saban and Bielema are working on this proposal, there are obviously other coaches who would despise such a change. Auburn’s Gus Malzahn would be one of the first, but certainly not the only. Kevin Sumlin of the Texas A&M Aggies and Hugh Freeze of the Ole Miss Rebels would certainly be against this change because of their style of offense.

Word is that this recommendation probably won’t pass, but evidence shows that Saban, Bielema and others will not let it die. For now, those coaches need to work harder on defense to come up with a scheme to slow down fast-paced opponents.

Tim Letcher is a contributing writer for and a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter @TimLetcher , on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.


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