Saban, Richt and Muschamp express concerns over officiating crews and offensive tempo

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The Rules Oversight Panel will vote Thursday, March 6 on whether to pass the NCAA’s 10-second proposal, which if passed would take effect during the 2014 season.

Nearly every SEC coach has spoken his peace on the NCAA’s proposal that would allow defenses 10 seconds to substitute before offenses could snap the football, all under the umbrella of player safety, and not even 20 percent of FBS head coaches are in favor of the rule.

Nick Saban, Mark Richt and Will Muschamp all gave differing reasons to how they felt about player safety within the proposed rule itself. Saban expressed it is a player safety related issue, Richt said he doesn’t think it’s a health-issue deal, and Muschamp said the argument stemming from the proposal isn’t about player safety but rather what benefits each coach the most.

However, there was one common theme among all three: each has issues with the tempo outpacing officiating crews.

MORE: Saban finally talks about the 10-second proposal

Saban said over the weekend that he wants what’s best for college football, but he added the officials have to control the tempo of the game, much like the NFL. Upon Chip Kelly being hired, the NFL made it very clear last summer that officials, not offenses, would dictate the pace of the game, which is different than college football, via AL.com.

“They spent a lot of money in the NFL figuring out what’s best for the game and what’s best for the players and they have a lot invested in it,” Saban said. “I think sometimes we don’t need to do all the things that they do but I think in some situations the officials controlling the pace of the game in that league has, I think, benefited the players and I would like to see the officials be able to control the pace of the game. I think the officials control the pace of the game in all games, but they don’t in college football.

“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,” Saban said.

Mark Richt echoed Saban’s sentiments on expressing concerns over officials controlling the tempo of the game.

“I think we need to have some kind of mechanism to make sure the officials are safely wherever they need to be, and not only safely in the right spot, but also in position to call the game properly,” Richt said. “If we have to slow it down just a tad for that it would make sense to me.”

Will Muschamp, who thinks it’s funny that all coaches have such strong opinions on the 10-second proposal and insists he’ll be fine with whatever the outcome of the vote, also brought up the difficulty for the administration of the game for officials, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

“I could care less about the rule. The only thing I will say is the administration of the game for the officials is very difficult. Example, an offensive team gets a first down. The ball is being snapped before they even set the chains for the next first down. Is that good for the game? I don’t think so. Those things as far as administration for the officials is very difficult and my conversations with [SEC head of officials] Steve Shaw and some of the officials I’m friends with. It becomes very difficult for them to get their eyes where they’re supposed to be and execute their jobs. I don’t think that’s good for the game. So would it be good to have a little slower tempo for the game without slowing down these teams? Sure. But whatever we compromise on, I’ll be fine either way.”

While all three coaches share differing opinions on player safety with the 10-second proposal, it’s clear there’s more than one way to get something passed. Since 2014 isn’t a rule change year (and this rule isn’t likely to get passed under the player safety umbrella because of the lack of data), it will likely get shouldered until next season, with 2015 being a rule change year.

Officials likely don’t want the responsibility of controlling the pace of the game, while coaches want officials to do their job – that varies with respect to every coach.

RELATED: 10 SEC spring football predictions 2014

Several have noted the SEC’s testing of eight officials during Auburn’s spring game last year to add an extra set of eyes on the field, and that’s a possible step to help alleviate pressure on officiating crews. Is that a solution? Probably not.

Whether or not the Rules Oversight Panel approves the March 6 vote on the 10-second proposal or not, this discussion and debate isn’t going anywhere.

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