Hugh Freeze fires back at NCAA’s substitution proposal that will slow hurry-up offenses


Yesterday evening, the NCAA Rules Committee proposed two main changes for 2014. The first being the targeting rule, allowing the referees to remove the penalty if the ejection is reversed upon review, and it had to be fixed. But the second proposal would totally change the game as we know it and slow no-huddle offenses.

Related: NCAA proposed changes

The rules committee is proposing to let defenses substitute within the first 10 seconds of the 40-second play clock, with the exception of the final two minutes of the half…all in the name of player safety. The offense wouldn’t be allowed to snap the ball until the play clock reached 29 seconds or less, and if it happens, a 5-yard delay of game penalty will be enforced.

The three offenses that immediately come to mind in the SEC are Auburn, Ole Miss and Texas A&M, and the Rebels’ Hugh Freeze fired back at the proposal, via

“Is there documented medical evidence that supports this rule change that tempo offenses are putting players at a higher degree of risk than others? If there is then show it to us,” Freeze told Wednesday night. “Where is it? They’re going to have to show us some evidence. If there’s not any evidence, then they should table it.

“You can do it the last two minutes of the game. Isn’t that when you should be most fatigued?

“Since the start of football, defenses can line up wherever they want to,” Freeze said. “They can move around as much as they want to before the snap. … They can do whatever they want to do, that’s fine. I coach defense, too, that’s great. The one thing that has always been offenses’ deal is snapping the ball. That’s the only thing we have.”

Nick Saban and Bret Bielema have been the most outspoken about the hurry-up, no-huddle offenses and slowing them down.

Here are Saban’s comments during the 2012 season, and he speaks out on player safety:

“I think that the way people are going no-huddle right now, that at some point in time, we should look at how fast we allow the game to go in terms of player safety,” Saban said. “The team gets in the same formation group. You can’t substitute defensive players. You go on a 14-, 16- or 18-play drive and they’re snapping the ball as fast as you can go, and you look out there and all your players are walking around and can’t even get lined up. That’s when guys have a much greater chance of getting hurt … when they’re not ready to play. I think that’s something that can be looked at. It’s obviously created a tremendous advantage for the offense when teams are scoring 70 points and we’re averaging 49.5 points a game. More and more people are going to do it.”

Washington State head coach, and famous bear hunter, Mike Leach basically told the coaches who worry about the hurry-up, no-huddle offense to spend more time actually coaching their team to combat the style of play.

“My suggestion is rather than spending a bunch of time coming up with a bunch of really stupid rules, spend that time coaching harder,” Leach said. “Worry about your own team and try to make your product better rather than trying to change the game so you don’t have to do anything.”

The proposed changes to the targeting rule are a year too late, but the proposed change to hurry-up, no-huddle offenses are a complete game-changer. Both proposals have to be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel held on March 6th.

I just don’t see any way the defensive substitution proposed rule gets approved.

Photo Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports



You must be logged in to post a comment. Please sign in or register

  • Wow. I figured it would be brought up in the offseason though. And the articles I’ve read have made it sound like it’s solely Saban complaining but there are others as well. He just has more power than the rest. Hope they don’t approve the rule though. Also, I’m glad they are looking at modifying the targeting rule. I don’t have a problem with the rule, I just never understood why the penalty was still enforced even after the ejection was overturned.

  • I agree that the rule is just stupid and it shouldn’t be approved. But I wouldn’t put anything past them. In the politically correct world we live in today, all they have to say is it is for player safety and they will bend over backwards to change the game, even if it wrong. I don’t know how many people are on the rules committee, but you have to think that at least half of them are complete idiots. Because half this country voted for Obama, TWICE.

  • 1. If the defense can dictate what play is going to be run by slowing the game down, then it’s not defense it’s part offense. 2. What defenses deserve to be scored on? answer: slow, unskilled, weak cardio-vascularly, unfocused, showboating, need time to decode the next play, substituting fresh players that are particularly interested to injuring key offensive players (Alabama v Georgia/Missouri 2012)

  • Pawwwllllll, that team is going too fast. It’s just not fair…..

  • I did not know Saban was a Democrat. He sounds like “it’s not fair.” We need a fair playing field, Everybody gets a trophy. Somebody should tell Nicky that it is a man’s game and to get his men in shape and to quit whinning Or at least learn to score more points and mabey get a field goal kicker. Go figure. It’s SEC football.

    • I’m not a bama fan. However bubba, I don’t think saban is worried about everyone else getting a trophy. As I remember he has 3 National Championships in the last 5 years and also had one at LSU so naturally people are going to listen when he talks. That was a pretty stupid statement.

    • Wow bubba what rock have you been under… Saban has 4 National Championships …

  • I personally think that football should stay as traditional as possible like baseball.. At no time should referees have to change the speed in which they operate.. With the up tempo offense you have referees suddenly running to put a ball in place with the chains not properly placed and we have seen this past season the mistakes being made in a rush to put the ball in play actually cost a team a game. I dont want to see gimmick football where a team uses ” hurry up tactics ” to replace skill level… Football is a physical game and the need to substitute is critical … a stunned player can be subjected to being hit hard again while helplessly hurrying to try to continue to play … If you cant line up and play against a team ready to defend then it is you who needs to practice and get better.. If the referees will operate at their normal speed and see to it that everyone is onsides then that is fast enough .

    • It takes a good bit of skill to run a hurry up offense. There’s multiple reads quarterbacks and runningbacks have to make on each play. And doing that at game speed is a whole lot harder than it sounds. Also, even if they pass the rule, teams will still be allowed to use the HUNH the last two minutes of each half. Defensive players will be the most fatigued at the end of a game. So would that not make the HUNH even more dangerous then? That alone tells me that this rule has nothing to do with player safety. The only reason player safety is mentioned with the rule is because that’s the only way coaches could present the rule change. Why should every team have to do the exact same thing? Football isn’t a communist sport. The different styles are what makes the game fun. If Auburn has to figure out a way to stop Bama’s monster running backs, why shouldn’t bama have to find a way to stop auburn’s offense? And I don’t know what team you pull for, that was just my example to use. And everyone talks about how dangerous this HUNH offense is, but where are the examples of players that have been injured while trying to defend it?

  • I wonder… has Leach and Freeze watched any of their game films… THEY are the ones that needs to practice and get better… Both of them actually need their team to get about an eight minute head start in each ballgame …. then they might win a few… It should be illegal to make referees have to go faster than their normal pace to try and help a team …

    • No one can make the Ref go faster than normal but you shouldn’t be able to tell the offense that they can’t go as fast as the ball is marked either. I have witnessed the opposite this past year being an Auburn fan that the Ref. will purposely mark the ball slower to give the Defense an advantage.

    • The referees are in control of the game. So how would someone MAKE them go faster?

  • It sounds to confusing to me. 40 second clock, 25 second clock, inside 2 minutes…
    I like the substitution rule they already have, it allows the defense to sub in there packages to match the offensive packages. I just think they are going to have to enforce the lineman down field on pass/run plays and give the DB’s a little more allowance on the pressing of WR’s. Eventually the defenses will find the formula to stop the fast paced offenses. Saban is already recruiting smaller, faster LB’s and better pass rushers. He’s always had big DL’s and LB’s before. I say let it work itself out.

  • Wait a second…. football’s supposed to be safe?

  • I just noticed something. The main mouths backing the HUNA are high school coaches, with very little in the resume other than trying to quick snap repeatedly hoping that the other team misses one. For them to use the word coach is a bit of a reach for relevance. Their entire college career is spent looking for that one athlete (Tebow – Newton) to be relevant. Freeze is not impressing anyone with 4 and 5 loss seasons. Meyer had to leave Florida at what should have been an up cycle because he couldn’t replace Tebow. Chizek lost everything because he couldn’t replace Newton. Malzon will not continue at Auburn long unless he can come up with his STAR. Sumlin at aTm has to come up with another Manziel or he will be in trouble. What do all of these Coaches have in common? Other than that one Superstar, they field inferior teams otherwise. Instead of producing good well rounded teams they prefer the shortcuts and finding ways around and thru the rule book.

    • So then if all of these coaches are one-hit wonders, why is everyone worried about this HUNH? The way you talk, after next year when Marshall is gone, Malzahn will be done. Apparently Freeze is impressing nobody. Sumlin is screwed. So again I ask, why is the HUNH such a big deal then?

    • Good try……I guess?? If the up-tempo offenses are of little concern, then I wonder why Saban has directed most of his angst the last 2 seasons at proposing rules to stop them? Moron…..

    • Shortcuts? Ways around and through the rule book? Hurry up breaks no rules. It just exposes out of shape defenses…..

  • There were plenty of cry babies back in 1906 when the forward pass became a legal play in football…Some coaches were complaining then, how high the final scores were back then. Seems to me they were able to adapt and defend. With all the big salaries these coaches are making in Div. 1, you would think they can come up with a counter to the hurry up offense. Sounds like to me, they just need to get their defenses in better shape.

  • Saban is pushing a line of BS. Why is it safe the last two minutes but unsafe the rest of the game. If offensive players can hold the pace then the defensive players should be capable. It boils down inability to get your defense set. It’s easy the last two minutes – “prevent”. No more stupid rules……..