An ESPN poll of Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) coaches reveals that nearly three out of four of them oppose the proposed ten-second delay before offenses can snap the ball. The proposed rule finds support from slightly less than one in five coaches. Seven percent of coaches haven’t made up their mind and just one of the 128 coaches contacted refused to participate in the survey.
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier ridiculed the proposed change as “the Saban rule” last week, referencing the unusual step the Alabama coach took in traveling to Indianapolis to lobby for the football legislation before the rules committee. Saban, University of Arkansas coach Bret Bielema, and other proponents depict the rule as a safety measure designed to allow coaches to substitute for injured players. Spurrier, the University of Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez, Washington State’s Mike Leach, and other detractors counter that the delay might be a safety measure protecting defensive-minded teams in the standings, but no study shows any increased dangers when hurry-up offenses take the field. In “off” years such as 2014, rules prohibit the NCAA’s football rules committee from proposing changes unrelated to player safety.
The backlash on the proposed slowdown has been so overwhelming that Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, the chairman of the rules committee, even distanced himself from the recommendation made by the body he leads by conceding that he knew of no statistical evidence supporting the contention that the hurry-up offense leads to more injuries. Normally, football’s oversight committee awards perfunctory approval to changes made by the rules committee. Given the uproar from fans who fear that tinkering will make an exciting game boring, and coaches who view the rule change as more strategic than safety measure, many believe the oversight committee might block the proposal. The body is scheduled to make an announcement on the matter one week from today.
“So I hear the football rules committee wants to slow the game down and make you wait ten seconds to snap–and penalty is delay of game!” Rich Rodriguez tweeted two weeks ago. “None of the coaches I’ve talked to knew about the new rule proposal regarding waiting ten seconds to snap the ball–wondering #HiddenAgenda?”