Just when you thought it'd be a quiet offseason and everybody would get along, BAM!
A proposed rule that would prevent offenses from snapping the ball until 10 seconds have ticked off the play clock gets proposed, and the college football world gets divided into two camps—old-school traditionalists and new-school innovators.
Neither appear to be giving ground.
Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema came out strong in favor of the proposal last week, lobbying hard for the rule—which can only be passed in the name of player safety in 2014—as one that would help keep the game safe.
This, despite the fact that no evidence indicates that hurry-up, no-huddle offenses put players at a greater risk of injury, and some, including one from CFBMatrix.com, suggest that bigger players in tight spaces create a greater injury risk.
Not to be outdone, South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier came out strongly opposed to the rule in USA Today, via George Schroeder. The Head Ball Coach went so far as to dub the rule the "Saban Rule," in honor of Alabama head coach Nick Saban's presence in the committee meeting when the rule was discussed.
Count Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs in the "new-school" camp.
"I think it's ridiculous," Jacobs said. "I think it's a joke. The safety and well-being of our players is first and foremost, and so if anybody has any data—which they don't—that demonstrates otherwise, then we'll certainly need to make the appropriate changes...whatever they may be."
That echoes the sentiments of his head coach, Gus Malzahn. The second-year head coach of the Tigers told AL.com's Brandon Marcello that he wants to table the proposal until 2015, which would allow studies to be conducted into the safety differences that exist in offensive schemes.
Jacobs, who also played offensive tackle for Auburn from 1980-83, doesn't expect much to come of those studies.
"I played here and played in the wishbone, and we'd have 12- to 15-play drives," Jacobs said. "You can't tell me that's safer than having a five- or an eight-play, two-minute drive. The only health and safety problem with this rule is opposing teams' fans getting mad because they get beat, and the safety of their coaches because they can't stop it."
It isn't just the rule itself that has angered folks in the new-school camp, it's the way it was developed.
According to Schroeder, Saban addressed the committee and Bielema participated in the discussions, but it was never discussed among the delegation at the American Football Coaches Association convention in January.
"To pull this out of air when it wasn't even brought up at the AFCA convention...I think it's inappropriate," Jacobs said.
A recent poll by ESPN's Brett McMurphy concluded that 73 percent of head coaches in FBS (93 coaches) oppose the rule, with nine more being undecided.
Despite the overwhelming opposition, Jacobs doesn't know what the fate of the controversial proposal will be.
"I have no idea whether it will pass or not," he said. "But what are we trying to fix? Why aren't they talking about protecting the quarterback in the pocket? Let's look at some real data. They're changing how many times a week you can hit in practice. That's real stuff that will impact people's injuries and the safety and well-being of players."
Get your popcorn ready, because whether the rule is adopted or tabled by the NCAA playing rules oversight panel on March 6, one side will very disappointed.
Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!