Aug 31, 2013; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Trevor Knight (9) runs with the ball against UL Monroe Warhawks linebacker Cameron Blakes (3) during the first quarter at Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Column: The NCAA, "Up-tempo is bad, m'kay"

Gabe Ikard nominated

Oct 15, 2011; Lawrence, KS, USA; Oklahoma Sooners center Gabe Ikard (64) gets set to snap the ball against Kansas Jayhawks during the first quarter at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Where to even begin? News broke last week about rule changes going up before the NCAA Football Rules Committee.

Some of the rule changes proposed make sense, like the targeting rule.

Last year they implemented a rule that was designed to increase player safety. Players making tackles couldn’t make helmet to helmet contact, if they do, the defense would receive a 15 yard penalty, and the player committing the offense would be ejected from the game.

The ejection was reviewable, so the referees could look to see if helmet to helmet contact was made. If none was visible on review, then the ejection was overturned. However, the penalty still stood, even if the defense was not at fault.

This year, a proposed change would be to reverse the 15 yard penalty as well as ejection. Which would make this the first penalty that is reviewable. That I like. It is a good rule, now let’s ruin that with this.

The NCAA is now looking at altering how the fast tempo works. As of right now, the rule change is as follows, from the NCAA’s website:

The committee also recommended a rules change that will allow defensive units to substitute within the first 10 seconds of the 40-second play clock, with the exception of the final two minutes of each half, starting with the 2014 season.

Ok so, why is this even being brought up? Schools like Oklahoma and Oregon have been running the no huddle, up-tempo offense for years. Oregon runs it at a pace that is just incredible. Nobody had made any comments on this type of offense.

Last year, though, we had the story break that two SEC coaches said that the up-tempo offense cause increased injuries. Those coaches were Nick Saban of Alabama, and Bret Bielema of Arkansas. Fast forward to February 12, 2014.

I can’t see why we need to make this kind of rule change. Already, defenses are able to make substitutions. In all the games featuring these up-tempo attacks, you see offenses making personnel changes frequently. Defenses can make substitutions when the offense does. It has to be allowed.

There are times, however, you see the defenses not making substitutions when offenses do. How is that the fault of the team running the no huddle offense? That’s not, say, Bob Stoops’ fault that either Nick Saban or Bret Bielema staffs didn’t make appropriate substitutions when they should. That is bad coaching on the defensive side of the ball. Many coaches have already sounded off on this.

The most impressive quote about this had to be from head coach Todd Graham of Arizona State. He told Jeremy Fowler of CBSSports.com:

“Right now, if the offense subs on third down, (the officials) afford me plenty of time, in our league, they stand over the ball. When you sub, they give you more than enough time. The present rule addresses (defensive concerns). I’m a defensive guy, and the current rule forces you to coach, and communicate with guys faster. It’s not like you can’t sub. Different strategy is all it is.”…. “When we change things just to change things, that impedes the integrity of the game. To me this doesn’t warrant a rule change. No huddle has brought an exciting brand. This isn’t just something that’s brewed the last few years. People have been doing it a long time. … Would a rule change help me as a defensive coach? Yeah, it’d make it easier. But that’s not why you should change the rule.”

There are many teams in the SEC that are running the up-tempo offense even. Tennessee, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Auburn all run this style of offense. Auburn used it to good affect to defeat Alabama. Even though yes, it also required a miraculous Field Goal return to get the win. It was an even game. Oklahoma took it a step further, and just dominated Alabama’s defense at the point of attack. OU’s defense gave the offense opportunities to score, and they scored.  I agree with Coach Graham on the point that it changes the integrity of the game.

There have not been any studies to the affect saying that the up-tempo offense causes more injuries. Offensive players and defensive players are subjected to the same number of plays. Both teams have sufficient time to make substitutions. And might I add this point because I don’t believe it has been made, what about the rest breaks during TV commercials? What is there to change, what is the benefit? Another question that must be asked, if this is truly about player safety, why forgo that safety the last two minutes of each half? What makes those 4 minutes special enough to throw all that out of the window?

This rule accomplishes nothing. The NCAA is making substitutions required for every down, which  those substitutions wouldn’t happen every down. It doesn’t happen now when offenses make substitutions. You should not hold those who run the up tempo offenses responsible for the lack of substitutions that occur on the defensive side of the ball when given the opportunity. That is a coaching issue. We’ll find out if we have to deal with this rule on March 6th.

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