Proposed NCAA Rule to Limit Hurry-Up Offenses Is Silly for Several Reasons

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterFebruary 13, 2014

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn
Auburn head coach Gus MalzahnKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The NCAA is looking to slow down fast-paced offenses and will try to implement new rules to do so starting in 2014.

According to NCAA.org's Greg Johnson, the rules committee announced a proposed change on Wednesday that would prevent teams from snapping the ball until 10 seconds have ticked off the play clock, allowing defenses to substitute players even if the offense doesn't.

The only exceptions to the rule would be in the final two minutes of each half, when teams would be allowed to snap the ball as quickly as possible.

“This rules change is being made to enhance student-athlete safety by guaranteeing a small window for both teams to substitute,” said Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun.

As the average number of plays per game has increased, this issue has been discussed with greater frequency by the committee in recent years and we felt like it was time to act in the interests of protecting our student-athletes.

Offensive coaches, including Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez, were unsurprisingly up in arms over the proposal:

When you snap the ball has always been a fundamental edge for the offense- what's next-- 3 downs like Canada?#LetsGetBoring

— Rich Rodriguez (@CoachRodAZ) February 12, 2014

It wasn't just coaches of traditional hurry-up teams who raised questions. South Carolina quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus made a joke of the rule in relation to Syracuse basketball player Tyler Ennis' buzzer-beater to beat Pitt Wednesday night.

Glad Tyler Ennis shot that with less than 29 seconds left!!! #shudhavebeenabletosubstitute

— G.A. Mangus (@CoachGAMangus) February 13, 2014

This new rule is silly for several reasons.

It Won't Matter All That Much

While the "10-second rule" will create panic among fans of offensive football and coaches who employ the hurry-up, no-huddle offense, it wouldn't make too much of an impact if it does get passed by the playing rules oversight panel in March.

Hurry-up offenses usually start hurrying up after they get one first down. When they do, they rarely get snaps off in 10 seconds from the end of the previous play anyway.

Take Auburn, for example. In the video below, the Tigers begin pacing Alabama after a long third-down conversion (28:00 mark), but never get a snap off in under 10 seconds. Even when they go to warp speed after Tre Mason's short run on 1st-and-10 with 6:05 left in the quarter, it takes 11 real-time seconds to get the next play off.

Part of the attraction to the hurry-up offense is that it limits the ability of coaches to adjust schematically, which would still be the case even if the rule is implemented.

Simply getting fresh bodies in to the game would be job No. 1 for coaches and any scheme changes would still likely take place on the bench.

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze
Ole Miss head coach Hugh FreezeMichael Thomas/Associated Press

The new rule would allow defenses to get fresh bodies in the game to prevent exhaustion—at least in theory. However, players get tired later in drives. Are coaches really going to risk substituting players in and out if an offense has pushed the defense into the red zone far away from the bench? 

Coaches won't want to risk a too many men on the field or offside penalty and likely wouldn't bother trying to sub late in drives deep in their own territory.

The new rule is lip service, and a classic case of a knee-jerk reaction to what a vocal minority view as a problem.

It Isn't the NCAA's Job to Define a Two-Minute Drill

The new proposed rule will allow offenses to snap the ball whenever they want with under two minutes remaining in either half, preserving a team's ability to run a two-minute offense when it's needed.

Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez
Arizona head coach Rich RodriguezMark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

But what if it's needed at other times?

An offense with the ball down two scores with five minutes to go in the game is in a two-minute situation. An offense down three scores with seven minutes to go is in a two-minute situation.

It isn't the NCAA's job to define game situations. That's what coaches do.

While the "10-second rule" is what will draw headlines due to its attempt to quell football's offensive surge, the NCAA is still trying to drastically alter how games are played based on defining game situations on its own that should be much more concerning.

Why It Will Never Be Implemented

According to Ralph D. Russo of the Associated Press, the playing rules oversight panel will meet on March 6 to discuss proposed rule changes. That panel includes administrators from all levels of college football, including Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. 

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry ScottJae C. Hong/Associated Press/Associated Press

Considering the wide-open nature of the Pac-12, you can bet Scott will be fielding calls from several of his member institutions on Thursday about the change.

This isn't just a matter of personal preference, though.

It's fair to assume that all hurry-up, no-huddle coaches will be against it based on principle, even though it likely wouldn't impact the game much. Offensive coaches would like to have the option to run the hurry-up whenever and the prospect of over-legislating the game would certainly rub others the wrong way.

Even old-school coaches would oppose limiting the times an offense can hurry up to the line. What if Alabama is down two scores with five minutes to play? Head coach Nick Saban would want his new offensive coordinator to speed things up and having that 10-second barrier in play would, at least in theory, limit the offense.

Butch Dill/Associated Press/Associated Press

The college football world will undoubtedly freak out over the proposed rule change that will limit hurry-up offenses.

However, there's no need to panic. It's unlikely that it will be implemented in its current form, and even if it is, it wouldn't make a big difference in overall play.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com.


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