Arizona Coach Rich Rodriguez mocks the proposed college football “slowdown” rule in a three-minute movie called, appropriately enough, Speed. The YouTube spoof co-stars Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock, whose clips from the original film are interspersed with dialogue from Rodriguez attempting to save not a city bus full of people but the game of college football from a maniac coach attempting to put it to sleep.
“I want the game to be played like it used to be,” the maniac coach says of his demands. “I wish I had some other loftier purpose. But I just want to turn back time….It’s for the safety of the players.”
“Let’s not distort the facts because of your personal agenda,” the short movie’s hero responds. “There’s no evidence to show that fast-paced offenses lead to more injuries.” The question of player safety is key. The football rules committee can’t make rule changes that don’t involve player safety in off-years–2014 is one such year.
One day from the oversight committee’s decision on whether the proposed rule delaying the center’s snap until ten seconds after the start of the game clock, Rodriguez isn’t the only coach engaged in creative public lobbying.
Nick Saban, who Friday evening claimed not to hold a position on the rule-change that bears his name, told ESPN on Tuesday that logic dictates that the blur and other hurry-up offenses be treated as potentially dangerous to players. “The fastball guys say there’s no data out there,” the University of Alabama coach explained, “and I guess you have to use some logic. What’s the logic? If you smoke one cigarette, do you have the same chances of getting cancer if you smoke twenty? I guess there’s no study that specifically says that. But logically, we would say, ‘Yeah, there probably is.'”
Like University of Arkansas coach Brett Bielema linking a Cal player’s offseason death to the blur, Saban’s comparison of a more cardiovascular football to smoking cigarettes surely will provoke more cackles. The debate has grown increasingly caustic as it has spilled out from committee meetings into the press. In addition to the YouTube clip, Rodriguez took to Twitter to ridicule the Saban Rule. “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!” Rodriguez tweeted last month. “None of the coaches I’ve talked to knew about the new rule proposal regarding waiting ten seconds to snap the ball–wondering #HiddenAgenda?”
No college football player has died as a result of a hit for three seasons. But proponents of the rule argue that a faster game makes such a scenario more likely because more plays means more opportunities for injuries and quick snaps make it hard for coaches to substitute for injured players.
The oversight committee, which rarely overturns decisions of the rules committee, makes its decision tomorrow. But according to Rich Rodriguez, the fans have already made up their minds. “They want action,” the Arizona coach proclaims in the YouTube video. “They don’t want to see huddles. People holding hands and singing Kumbaya.”
Daniel J. Flynn, the author of The War on Football: Saving America’s Game (Regnery, 2013), edits Breitbart Sports.