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.
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.
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