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Copyright 2014 Dayton Newspapers, Inc.
Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

The NCAA is trying to pump the brakes on the breakneck pace of college football.

Coaches around the country seem split on a proposed NCAA rules change that would grant defenses a 10-second window to substitute players before each snap. The proposal, in effect, would slow down the accelerating tempo of college offenses, which has become prevalent throughout the game in the last live years, and especially so in the Pac-12.

Under the proposed change, the offense that snaps the ball before the 40-second play clock hits 29 seconds would be assessed a 5-yard, delay-of-game penalty.

But the proposal will have a hard time passing if the many coaches who run up-tempo these days have anything to say about it.

"It's ridiculous," said Arizona's Rich Rodriguez, who has been at the forefront of the fast football trend.

"For me it goes back to the fundamental rules of football. The offense knows where they are going and when they are going to snap the ball. That's their advantage. The defense is allowed to move all 11 guys before the ball is snapped. That's their advantage.

"What's next? You can only have three downs? If you play that extra down you have more chance of injury."

Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, chair of the 10-person NCAA Football Rules Committee, said the proposal was made with player safety in mind.

"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," Calhoun said.

The NCAA did not release data on player safety related to the proposal.

Current rules do not guarantee a defense the opportunity to substitute unless the offense has substituted lirst.

An exception to the proposed rules change would be made in the linal two minutes of each half.

The proposals would have to be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which will review the proposal March 6. If approved, it would go into effect for the 2014 season.

"First off, doubt it will pass," Washington State coach Mike Leach told ESPN.com. "Second, it's ridiculous. All this tinkering is ridiculous. I think it deteriorates the game. It's always been a game of creativity and strategy. So anytime someone doesn't want to go back to the drawing board or rework their solutions to problems, they beg for a rule."

Offensive tempo became a hot topic last year when Alabama coach Nick Saban and Arkansas coach Bret Bielema argued the game's quickening pace put defensive players at injury risk. (Saban's Crimson Tide ran 65.9 plays per game in 2013 and Bielema's team ran 64.7, the two slowest offenses in the Southeastern Conference. California led the Pac-12 with an average of 87.1 plays per game last season.)

 

February 14, 2014

 

 
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