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Commentary: College football and eggheads should not mix

Sometimes you just have to scratch your head when an NCAA committee proposes rules changes that defy logic.
Such is the case with the proposal that will allow college football defenses time to substitute between plays while requiring the offensive team to not snap the ball until the 40-second play clock hits the 29-second mark.
I warned you. Egghead committees need to be outlawed.
The offensive trend for a number of college offenses is to run no-huddle, fast-break plays. It takes tremendous conditioning for those teams to be effective. Oregon is a perfect example of teams that wear down their opponents who cannot keep pace. 
College coaches have come down on both sides of the proposed changes.
Coaches that opt for a slower pace are all for it. Those whose offenses like to break the sound barrier are lined up against it.
Not surprising Alabama’s Nick Saban and Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema want to see the proposal passed into law. Others like Washington State’s Mike Leach, Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy and Arizona Coach Rich Rodriguez prefer a quick-six pace.
Proponents offer what I believe to be a paper-thin reason to change the game. They claim it is a safety issue.
“Where’s all the data that proves this is a player safety issue," Rodriguez asked in an story. “I don’t buy it."
Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze is another who challenges the safety claim.
“Is there documented medical evidence that supports this rule change that tempo offenses are putting players to a higher degree of risk than others? If there is, then show it to us,’’ Freeze said.
“Where is it? They’re going to have to show us some evidence. If there’s not any evidence, then they should table it."
Even the ones who came up with this latest goofy idea propose the new rule would not apply during the final two minutes of each half. Brilliant thinking. For 56 minutes of a game, they would play by one set of rules. But for four minutes, offenses can put the ball in play seconds after an official spots the ball.
I agree with Leach’s stance.
“That’s really insulting that they are hiding behind player safety just because somebody wants an advantage. That’s crazy,’’ Leach said.
College football has never been more popular. Fast-paced offenses are exciting to watch and popular with fans of the sport. Why slow them down?
It seems to me coaches like Saban could adjust to the quicker pace. He is a defensive genius who has the best talent on both sides of the ball. Is there anyone who doubts Saban can figure it out? Instead, he comes off as a crybaby, perhaps due to the fact that Auburn’s Gus Malzahn found a way to beat him in the Iron Bowl.
The game is always evolving. Rules like this proposal only serve to punish coaches that are creative and think outside the box. 
Leach looked at it as only he can. His take appears to be pointed straight at Saint Nick.
"My suggestion is rather than spending a bunch of time coming up with a bunch of really stupid rules, spend that time coaching harder," he said. “Worry about your own team and try to make your product better rather than trying to change the game so you don’t have to do anything."
The proposal will go to the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel for debate March 6.
Freeze says offensive linemen that will be more injury prone.
“They’re going to face 12 five-star defensive linemen from Alabama rotating every three plays, he said.
Now that is dangerous.
 Sport Columnist Joe Biddle can be reached at

Posted on: 2/20/2014


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