Bret Bielema cites player’s offseason death to support his stand on 10-second proposal

NCAA Football: Texas A&M at Arkansas

Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema is one of the founding fathers of the NCAA’s new proposed rule that would allow defenses 10 seconds to substitute before offenses could snap the ball, and Bielema finally had his first recent platform to speak about it. Bielema originally cited player safety when talking about hurry-up offenses last year, so his story hasn’t changed.

Related: Cal AD fires back at Bielema

Before a meeting at the White County Razorback Club, Bielema was asked about the evidence of hurry-up offenses with respect to player safety, and his answer was ‘death certificates’, referencing a Cal linebacker’s death during offseason conditioning drills. Ted Agu collapsed and died at a local hospital earlier this month, in a horrific and tragic situation.

Related: UNC head coach took a jab at Saban over proposed rule

Agu had the sickle cell trait. Bielema claims that “half a dozen” of his players have it, and there’s no way to substitute those players if he doesn’t have any timeouts, according to the Associated Press.

“If one of those players is on the field for me, and I have no timeouts, I have no way to stop the game,” Bielema said. “And he raises his hand to stop the game, and I can’t do it. What am I supposed to do?

“What are we supposed to do when we have a player who tells us he’s injured?”

Furthermore, Bielema also said he expects the new proposal to pass when it comes to a vote on March 6, while even the committee chair Troy Calhoun has spoken his skepticism surrounding lack of evidence of player safety.

“Anything that’s ever been player-safety driven has never, in my history there, has never been stopped,” Bielema said.

There may be a bigger question we need to ask here. If coaches are concerned about players with the sickle cell trait, perhaps we should ask a bigger picture question about the safety of them playing football.

Photo Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports



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  • The question we should ask has nothing to do about 10 seconds. Players with the sickle cell trait are more at risk than others. Should the game be changed because of players with the trait can play? What if there was a discussion on those players playing at all. I dont think Bielema is doing himself any favors with this argument. BUT if the ncaa is going to push this through, it will be under player safety. You can’t change the rules of football to slow down hurry up offenses.

  • Sounds to me that Bielema is just gonna shout the words “player safety” and hope it passes. He still has no proof. The example he used of a player’s death wasn’t from a HUNH. It was from conditioning. And I agree with Jon. If he’s so concerned about players with the sickle cell disease, maybe they should look at the risk of them playing football.

    • And another thing….if a player in injured the game stops. You wouldn’t need a timeout.

      • Yeah. If a player goes down, the game stops. You don’t need a timeout for that.

      • Of course, that legitimately injured player will get booed off the field. I can see Bielema’s point, but I still don’t agree with the 10-second rule. On the other hand, I’ve said it before and will say it again, players who are injured should not be deterred from letting refs know because the players are afraid of being accused of just trying to stall the offense.

        • Yes. That is the negative from it all. Because a few players have made it so obvious before that they were faking an injury, it is an automatic assumption now that anytime a player goes down against a HUNH offense, that they are faking. I don’t like that either. None of us ever really know if they’re hurt or not unless it’s just obvious. Like when our guy fell out at Arkansas in the middle of the huddle. Just stupid

  • Bielema’s smart…he’s not dumb. He knows the ONLY way this thing passes is under the player-safety umbrella. He’s also the ONLY coach that’s said remotely anything positive for the rule. The heart of the matter is the disadvantage it creates for defenses (that’s why nick saban is all over it). and if coaches (2 of them) will get this thing passed it will have to be player safety.

    • This reminds me of when defenses had to adjust for the wishbone offense. you had giant defenders who were slow trying to catch up to the offense. They did…eventually. this is just the most recent power struggle between offenses and defenses in a little game we like to call football… that’s been happening since the game was invented.

  • Now i see a dim future ahead for Arkansas, because BB is dim-witted enough to think a player can’t sit down put his hand on his chest and say I’m having unusual cardio-vascular pain, I need help. In 60 years of watching football I’ve never seen the game not stop to help a player for any reason.

    Any person, including football players, can have sudden death due to heart failure. The game of football doesn’t make this happen any more than climbing stairs, walking up a hill, playing with your dog, swimming, having sex, pushing your car a half block to the gas station, dancing at the nightclub, etc., etc., etc.

    What BB really wants to say is I don’t want to coach any part of the game except the fat slow out-of-shape parts. What fans will answer: We don’t want to watch fat slow out-of-shape sports of any kind

  • I doubt the rule will pass. Players will do what they’ve always done to slow down the game, stay on the ground with an injury. There’s nothing that can be done to stop that.

  • OK Big Bert. You’re taking this a little too far now.

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