Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema
Bielema spoke to the White County (Ark.) Razorback Club in Searcy on Thursday night, and didn't do himself—or his cause—any favors in the battle to slow down hurry-up offenses.
According to Kurt Voigt of the Associated Press, Bielema expects the rule, which would prevent offenses from snapping the ball until 10 seconds have ticked off of the play clock except in the final two minutes of each half, to pass when it goes up for a vote in front of the NCAA playing rules oversight panel on March 6.
Harmless? Well, so far anyway. After all, as a representative of the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), Bielema was in the committee room when the potential rule change was discussed, according to George Schroeder of USA Today.
But maybe Bielema should have stopped there, because when he opened his mouth further, his argument took an inappropriate turn.
When asked what evidence there was to suggest that hurry-up evidence presented an injury risk, which is the only way rule changes can be passed this offseason, Bielema crossed way over the line.
"Death certificates," Bielema said according to Voigt. "There's no more anything I need than that."
Per Voigt, this was in reference to former Cal football player Ted Agu, who passed away during a training run earlier this month. In the meeting and in a follow-up interview with SI.com's Andy Staples, Bielema points out that Agu suffered from sickle cell trait, although Staples notes that no cause of death has been released.
Did Bielema discuss bringing Agu's passing into this discussion with his family? Does he know with 100 percent certainty that Agu's death was directly related to Cal's hurry-up offense? If not, it's not his place to bring him into the discussion.
Bielema went on to complain about what happens when he's out of timeouts.
"If one of those players is on the field for me, and I have no timeouts, I have no way to stop the game," Bielema said. "And he raises his hand to stop the game, and I can't do it. What am I supposed to do?"
Well, Bielema can do exactly what Auburn did to Bielema last year.
In a play that drew the attention of the nation, Auburn linebacker Anthony Swain dropped to the ground long after Arkansas converted a fake field goal for a first down with two seconds to go in the third quarter of the game between the two SEC West foes.
Ironically, Bielema subtly referred to that play when discussing up-tempo offenses in Searcy on Thursday night.
"If we want to get to the point where we’re flopping on the ground, like somebody did against us this year ..."— Kurt Voigt (@Kurt_Voigt_AP) February 21, 2014
Maybe Bielema should take a closer look, because that play—which took place with two seconds left in the quarter, in the red zone, long after the previous play ended and while both teams were subbing—had absolutely nothing to do with tempo. It has everything to do with what players do when they have a minor injury or, if you believe Swain was faking, what they do when they're confused on the personnel package that was subbed in.
Was Bret Bielema out of line with his comments on Thursday night?
It also could be used as an argument that Bielema's 10-second rule would be utterly meaningless in the red zone, because it's almost impossible to sub out and get set that far away from the bench in 10 seconds anyway.
Is this a campaign against the no-huddle, or football in general? The line seems to be a bit blurry for Bielema.
Instead of helping his cause against hurry-up, no-huddle offenses, Bielema hurt his cause and his reputation with his comments on Thursday night.
Maybe he should just stay away from hot microphones until this rule is either passed or shot down—which should happen when the rules panel meets on March 6.