Nick Saban has been the fall guy for the NCAA’s new proposal that would allow defenses 10 seconds to substitute before offenses could snap the football. College football has been eating this up and spitting it out, starting with outspoken coaches, media talking heads and fans.
According to NCAA coordinator of officials Rogers Redding, Nick Saban asked for the opportunity to meet with the committee who already approved the proposal to bring it up for the March 6 vote, and Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema was also present.
Saban has been an outspoken critic of hurry-up, no-huddle attacks dating back to last season following the Ole Miss game, citing player safety and asking, “Is this what we want college football to become?”
Saban spoke about the 10-second proposal tonight at the Georgia Minority Coaches Association for the first time since the end of the college football season, according to AL.com. It was almost a nine-minute interview, and it’s worth your time to read it all; however, I’ll pick out the most interesting comments, and the video is below.
Q: What are your thoughts on the 10-second rule proposal?
“I really don’t necessarily have an opinion on the 10-second rule. I think there are three issues that need to be researched relative to pace of play, the first being player safety…I think it’s wear and tear and tougher to prepare players when you have to play against a hurry-up offense because of the way you have to practice…The second thing is, can officials officiate the game? They’re not in position when the ball is snapped, just like defensive players aren’t in position when the ball is snapped, so that’s a game administration issue that people should probably look into. And the third thing, to me, and the last thing, which is not the most important, I think the first is most important, is there any competitive imbalance created by the pace of play.”
On player safety and the 10-second proposal:
“I think player safety is the No. 1 thing, and that was my No. 1 issue as well. I think when players get tired they’re more susceptible to get injured if you can’t substitute players when they’re tired or if they’re injured and you can’t get them out of the game…I think somebody outside all of us should decide what is in the best interest of the game, whether it’s player safety, game administration, whatever it might be. That’s sort of the concern that, I think, we all have.”
On postponing the proposal another year to gather more data (Gus Malzahn’s proposal):
“I think one thing people don’t understand is they don’t have all the facts about this. The reason — I had nothing to do with the idea of the 10-second rule, but the committee decided the 10-second rule because they took 12 games of three fastball teams: Oregon, Auburn, Texas A&M and I forget the fourth one…I don’t think anybody was trying to change what they do or how they do it, but the fact that they can get on the line and snap it quick, you can’t substitute. All right. So, that becomes an eventual player safety issue and I think if you ask the guys philosophically, a lot of them that run the offense, they say we want to wear the defense down and get the defense tired.
“Look, I’m all for what’s best for the game. The game is what it is, I don’t think any coach should determine, just like when they went to Philadelphia in the NFL and they were going so fast, the officials said, ‘We control the pace of the game.’ The league said, ‘The officials control the pace of the game, not a coach.’ So, I’m just saying what’s best for the game. That’s what Nick Saban is for.”
An ESPN survey of 128 FBS head coaches yielded the result that less than 20 percent actually agree with Saban and Bret Bielema.
Contrary to Saban, Bielema made some controversial remarks about his stance of the 10-second proposal citing ‘death certificates’, referring to players who have the sickle cell trait. His reasoning was hammered by Cal’s AD who recently had a player who tragically died during offseason conditioning practice. Bielema was referring to that specific player.
We’re less than a week away from the Rules Oversight Panel actually voting on the 10-second proposal, which happens on March 6, and if passed, the new rule would take effect for the 2014 season.
You can watch Saban’s press conference below. Some videos may not work on mobile applications, and you can also watch it here.
Photo Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports