On Second Thought: Football Committee Slows Down Slow-Down Rule Momentum

On Second Thought: Football Committee Slows Down Slow-Down Rule Momentum

College football’s rules committee tabled on Thursday the proposed ten-second delay for the center’s snap after the start of the game clock. The rule would have not applied to the final two minutes of each half. The delay in deciding on the measure delaying offenses means that the 2014 college football season will play as the 2013 one did, with offenses snapping the ball whenever they decide to.

Tabling the proposal means that the debate may emerge anew following this coming season. The rules committee in effect voted so that the oversight committee could not vote on the matter when it convenes tomorrow. 

Dubbed the “Saban” rule after University of Alabama head coach by rival coach Steve Spurrier, the proposal set off controversy more resembling legislation in Washington than football legislation. Several coaches, including Washington State’s Mike Leach, took to Twitter to mock the idea. “Coaching is a brotherhood and a noble profession,” Leach tweeted last month. “I would hope there are not those in our business who would sneak behind everyone else’s back and try to get something passed without the others in the profession having the opportunity to be heard.” The University of Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez starred in a YouTube spoof of the movie Speed that ridiculed the proposed rule. “They want action,” the Arizona coach says of fans in the three-minute movie. “They don’t want to see huddles–people holding hands and singing Kumbaya.”

Nick Saban and University of Arkansas head coach Brett Bielema took the unusual step of traveling to Indianapolis to lobby the rules committee to pass the proposed change. Bielema later sparked controversy by citing a University of California player’s off-season death in practice as a reason to slow down offenses. But without evidence that no-huddle offenses endanger players–2014 changes were limited by rule to safety matters–and massive pressure from coaches and fans to kill the proposal, the rules committee ultimately decided to table the measure that had already been passed by its voting members.