Texas Tech's Kliff Kingsbury Takes Shot at Nick Saban

Brian LeighFeatured ColumnistFebruary 24, 2014

USA Today

Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury became the latest FBS head coach to take a swipe at Nick Saban and his crusade against the up-tempo offense.

According to Luke Zimmerman of SB Nation, Kingsbury appeared on ESPN's Outside the Lines podcast and said the following of Saban's motivation for wanting to change the rules and slow down college football:

On Wednesday of last week, Saban and Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema appeared at a meeting of an NCAA committee to voice support of a proposal that would slow down the game by disallowing offenses to snap the ball with more than 29 seconds left on the play clock, according to The Associated Press (via ESPN.com).

The proposal passed (even though Saban and Bielema abstained from voting) and will now be discussed March 6 by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel. If passed at that meeting, the rule would take effect.

"I was surprised [the rule] got that far to be honest," Kingsbury continued, according to Samantha Hyde of Fox Sports. "And to put it under the guise of player safety when like everybody said there is no empirical data to back anything even close to that...Nobody's ever done a study on that or there's no scientific data."

Kingsbury is not the first coach to lob potshots at Saban, whose last three losses have come against Texas A&M (an up-tempo offense), Auburn (an up-tempo offense) and Oklahoma (a typically slower offense that went up-tempo against Alabama).

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier had this to say in an interview with George Schroeder of USA Today:

"So, you want to talk about the 'Saban Rule'?" Spurrier asked Thursday, chuckling. "That's what I call it. (It) looks like it's dead now, hopefully."

"I just told [Saban] I was against it," Spurrier said (of the rule). "It's ridiculous. Let's let everybody keep playing the way they've been playing."

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn has also come out against the rule, though he hasn't mentioned his Iron Bowl counterpart by name.

"There's absolutely zero documented evidence that is hazardous on the pace of play, only opinions." Malzahn said, according to David Ching of ESPN.com.

Air Force head coach and NCAA Football Rules Committee chairman Troy Calhoun, who had previously sounded confident about the passage of the proposal, would backtrack soon after Malzahn's comments.

It's easy to cast stones at Saban on this matter. Because of his documented struggles defending the up-tempo offense—even in victory this year, Alabama's defense was shredded by Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M—his motives on this front seem less about safety than success.

At the same time, similar things could be said about critics of Saban like Kingsbury and Malzahn, who have climbed the coaching ladder in large part because of the up-tempo offense. They have a biased and vested stake, as well.

No matter where you stand on this issue, the meeting of the oversight panel will be high drama come March 6. 

And no matter which way the panel rules, this story will not go away throughout the spring and the summer.

Real football cannot come back soon enough.


Follow Brian Leigh on Twitter: @BLeighDAT