Oct 31, 2013; Pullman, WA, USA; Washington State Cougars coach Mike Leach reacts during the game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Martin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Next week the NCAA football committee will vote on whether to adopt the 10 second rule, requiring offenses to wait until the 40 second play clock is at 29 seconds prior to snapping. Aside from the poor name (any fourth grader could tell you that 40-29=11), this is a blatant attempt at manipulating rules to maintain dominance by traditional powerhouses. Nick Saban’s support for the rule makes perfect sense; he loses defensive line strength if he is forced to substitute frequently, losing the power of blue chippers like Brandon Ivory, and having to drop to less experienced second and third string players. It would seem that the drop off for less powerful programs from 1st to 2nd string would be less, mainly because the top end guys are not the dominant forces that Bama and Notre Dame possess.
High speed offenses have worked within the rules to adapt their game, forcing defenses to adjust. Effectively, that is what defenses, by nature, are required to do. At one point the wishbone was an innovative offense, forcing teams to work against double dives and options. The wildcat enjoyed a similar experience earlier this century and most recently the read option gave mobile quarterbacks a place of dominance in the NFL.
This rule is effectively old school coaches saying that they can not stop high speed offenses under the current rule book, so they are attempting to hand cuff offenses, allowing defensive players to rest a bit, and to substitute when required. This is inherently forced regression.
Arguments made in favor of the proposal assert (without any studies supporting) that concern for player safety is the primary consideration. Arkansas coach Bret Bielema went sp far as to blame fast paced offenses for Cal DL Ted Agu’s death earlier this month. Bielema later apologized, but that type of self serving attitude is still appalling. As stated, there has not been studies supporting the rule change’s assertions of safety, and if one emerges all should be suspicious. Popular understanding is that injuries occur throughout the game, and not necessarily more frequently as the clock clicks away.
Saban’s assertion that players with pre-existing conditions ((he cites asthma and, for some reason, sickle cell (anemia)) will be exacerbated by playing too fast. What an asthmatic is doing on your D-Line without a planned platoon system, Nick, is beyond me, and if you can’t get the guy to run 30 yards to get off the field maybe he should not have been there to begin with. This problem could be more easily be remedied if rules concerning sideline buffers were loosened, or even allow for more men on the field between plays, strictly regulated of course. If a substitution is being made, and both players are making an honest effort to switch out, regardless of what the offense is doing, we can probably get behind that.
If you have 15 minutes or so, take a listen to CML talking with folks in Saban’s backyard, WJOX in Birmingham. Leach, rightfully, repeatedly calls the proposal mind-numbingly dumb, stupid, and self serving. Transitively, he is calling Saban’s support of the rule stupid. CML did state that he had not heard Saban’s comments, so he would not directly comment, but he respects Alabama, their history, and Saban.
The best part of the interview is an offensive mind’s response to the rule with three safety rules of his own: No blitzes, no rushing more players than there are blockers to pick them up, and no hitting the quarterback. These would all improve player safety, but as CML pointed out, it would no longer be football.
Leach’s proposals were obviously tongue in cheek. CML complained that the rule book is already too thick, and that it should be a pamphlet, not an encyclopedia. He addresses the halo rule, protection of punters and kickers, and the targeting rule as unnecessary, but at least they were honest in their attempt to improve player safety.
Before supporters of this rule begin to say that Leach is being as self serving as the coaches who proposed the rule, he points out that even if the rule is implemented, it will not really hinder WSU’s style of play. WSU does not play the hurry up offense that Oregon does, but CML dislikes the rule on principal. That is who we have at the helm folks, a man who evaluates situations not on how they will affect him, but on inherent value. Saban and Bielema are transparently self serving, and though we can respect the former, the latter is, well, we will just say that he should reevaluate his feelings towards humanity as a whole.
We can be proud, Coug fans, that the leader of Wazzu Football is yet again coming down on the right side of history. He loves this game, and has played within the rules to develop an unorthodox offense, and challenges defensive coordinators to counter it. Gameday is a chess match for Leach, and those who are not as sharp as he, are attempting to remove the knights from the board, just because Leach and others have devised ways of utilizing them so well.