North Carolina head coach takes subtle five-star jab at Nick Saban


Coaches are buzzing around the country about the new proposed 10-second rule threatening to slow down hurry-up offenses.

Related: Hugh Freeze fires back at proposal

College football’s power broker Nick Saban is the big proponent behind the proposed rule, as well as Bret Bielema. The sentiment behind the coaches’ buzz has been that Saban and Bielema have an agenda, and they’re trying to get the agenda passed in the name of player safety.

Outside the SEC, Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez, Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy and Washington State’s Mike Leach have ripped into the new rule though different media outlets, from radio to Twitter.

Related: Kevin Sumlin, Butch Jones speak out about proposal

North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora is just the latest to speak out about the rule, and he even takes a slight five-star jab at Nick Saban, via Raleigh News and Observer.

“Now if you’re just going under the assumption that if you play more plays you have more chance for injury – I agree with that,” Fedora said in a phone interview with the Raleigh News & Observer. “But if you’re going to say this is under player safety, but we’re going to do it in the last two minutes of the game, well then are we saying we’re not concerned with player safety in the last two minutes of the game? I mean, come on. I just don’t get that.

“I think you’ve got more chance of players getting hurt if the opposing team has too many five-star players on it,” Fedora said. “So let’s just say one team can only sign two five-star players on its team. How about that?”

Fedora and other coaches view the hurry-up style of play as an equalizer to Nick Saban’s talent-filled five-star recruiting classes. On paper, Alabama has more talent than anybody in college football, and one edge less talented teams can have is to run tempo against his defense. We saw it with Gus Malzahn and Bob Stoops just this year. It’s the equalizer.

The NCAA oversight panel votes on the 10-second substitution rule on March 6th, and you can bet that everyone in the country will have their say before the decision date.

Photo Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA 



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

  • Let’s all change the rules so Mr. Saban will be happy.

  • Ok, this guy is being ridiculous. Satan’s reasoning wasn’t based on “more plays, more injuries” it is because with a hurry up offense is on the field, there is no time to substitute players. When the players can’t be substituted, the get overly and dangerously exhausted and are more likely to get hurt.

    Also, the 10 second rule wouldn’t change much anyway. Oregon, one of college football’s fastest offenses, averaged 13 seconds in between plays in 2012 (unsure of 2013).

    • *Saban… stupid autocorrect.

    • It is ridiculous to use that excuse as well. If he sees that his guys are getting tired and need to be taken out, he has timeouts for that. Or, he can just take a substitution penalty and get some time to switch players. You don’t have to use a terrible excuse to get rules changed when there are rules in place that let you get around it already.

      • Why is this ridiculous? Obviously as a defensive minded coach Saban has a bias towards rules that favor defenses, just like the ones arguing against the rule favor fast offenses. But this is a valid argument regarding player safety in an environment where you have many people discussing various ways to increase player safety in both the NFL and college. This is a way to reduce injuries and we should embrace it because football is under the microscope right now regarding player health so why ignore an easy fix like this?
        Coaches running the up-tempo offenses are just trying to exploit the game anyways by preventing legal substitutions. Why should we respect that?

        • It is ridiculous for the very reason Fedora pointed out — it says we aren’t concerned about player safety the last two minutes of each half. If this was REALLY about player safety, it would apply throughout the game.

          And exploiting? That’s just moronic. That’s like saying deliberately going out of bounds in the last 2 minutes is exploiting the rules because it stops the clock. The offense’s advantage has always been that it knows when the ball is going to be snapped.

          This rule is about one thing and one thing only — helping Saban win because his sorry butt can’t figure out how to handle an uptempo offense.

        • WDE Marc and you are correct. Studies have shown that nothing about up tempo offenses causes more injury. That entire notion is blatantly erroneous and misleading. Heck, even North Carolina University has a research paper out (studies and information) that highlights what types of injuries are caused the most. Want to know how many are related to going too fast in a football game? Uhm right around none because there isn’t a category for it. Plain and simple Saban (as great as a coach he is and I don’t care if my fellow Auburn family doesn’t like me saying that because I do respect the guy) doesn’t like figuring out uptempo offenses, HUNH, Spread, Air Raid, etc. He’s terrible against them but has had some mild success. This plainly states that the last two games of his season (the Iron Bowl Kick 6 loss {not luck give me a break on that crap} and the “Meaningless” BCS Sugar Bowl game {come on it isn’t meaningless}) exposed him. Makes him look bad and actually had quite a few Alabama Fans calling for his removal if it happens again this year. That is just asinine thinking right there especially when he’s one of the best.
          So what do you do to help yourself out? You talk about player safety in the guise of concealing the real reason, which is to help you win games. As Fit4LifeLLC states below no one is talking about the health of the offensive players. Also, the last two minutes of each half are somehow miraculous in their healing properties for the defensive players that teams can go full 2 minute HUNH offense? That is ludicrous. I am still flabbergasted at the number of homers who will call Saban the messiah (not capitalized for a reason) and everything he says is right when facts are staring them in the face. With the outrage even by Alabama fans as well as Auburn and college football fans around the country, AD’s, Coaches (even those of non HUNH schools), et al, I sincerely believe this will put a death knell in this type of rules change for this year. Might as well play flag football or “Tecmo” Bowl.

        • Hurrying up in the last two minutes is not the same as hurrying up the entire game. It’s just common sense that forcing defenders to stay on the field when they need to rest is not good for their health. You can find any study you want to support your argument, but that is just common sense.
          And yes, hurry up offense is an exploitation of the games rules. The game was meant to allow for substitutions and teams running the hurry up are purposely trying to remove that element.
          And, I’m sorry, but don’t tell me Saban needs help winning championships, that’s laughable to any one who knows what’s been going on in college football for the past decade.

        • The game was NOT “meant to allow for substitutions.” John Heisman ran the hurry-up at Auburn way back in 1899. He always encouraged his teams to line up as fast as possible stating:
          “The team of ’99—my last at Auburn—was a great one. It only weighed about 160 (pounds per player), but its speed and team work were something truly wonderful. I do not think I have ever seen so fast a team as that was. It would line up and get the ball in play at times before the opposing players were up off the ground. You see it was a ‘stunt’ of ours to catch them off side and get the benefit of the penalty. Nowadays no team is taken by surprise by such lightning lining up; but that Auburn team of ’99 was the first to show what could be done with speedy play, and then it wasn’t long before all other teams were laboring with might and main to inject speed into their work.”
          The hurry-up offense is older than the forward pass (made legal in 1906).

        • Exactly, even he called it a ‘stunt’. That’s my point. I don’t care how old it is, it’s always been about trying to take away what the game was designed to do which is allow an opportunity for substituting. If the game was not meant to allow for substitutions which you oddly claim, then there wouldn’t be rules allowing for players to substitute before and after every play.

        • Saban has the same opportunity like everybody else in the off season, and thats to get his team in shape for HUNH offenses. If he gets behind in the 4th quarter by double digits, I bet he would run a hurry-up offense. You cant line up and go strait at his big defensive linemen, mis-direction and speed will kill him all day !!

    • I believe your notion about not mattering is misguided. It is a tremendous advantage because the defense will allowed to sub based on the formation shown by the offense. If the offense does not want show the formation at the line and chooses to huddle, now you are looking at a another 5-10 secs before the snap. One question, Why isn’t anyone concerned about the offensive players? I don’t hear anyone crying for their safety.

    • It has zero to do with safety… Currently if the offense makes a substitution, the defense is allowed to substitute.

      If 11 offensive players are in enough shape to complete a long drive without substitution, the defensive players should be in enough shape to as well. If they get exhausted, buildup their endurance.

      For coaches like Saban, it is out of his comfort zone, so he doesn’t want to change… He wants everyone else to change to play his game. He needs to change and learn how to defend hurry up offenses. 10 seconds isn’t really going to matter, because most hurry up offenses snap between 10 and 15 seconds.

  • Saban was also a bit proponent of teams having to win their conference before playing for a national title….of course until his own team was in that situation.

  • Was there some ridiculous number of injuries this season that I am unaware of due to hurry up offenses? Like Jared Bartlett said, the coaches have timeouts that they can call if they need to substitute players due to them being tired. You can use them to give your own team a break in the action. This rule has no evidence to back up its “safety” claim and shouldn’t even be an issue. Now if there is evidence and the list of injuries to defensive players that played against Oregon, Auburn and any other uptempo Offenses then present it and prove this is an issue.

  • We can’t forget that the rule as it is now states that if the OFFENSE substitutes, then the Defense gets the opportunity; the ref stands over the ball until the D has the chance to sub whenever the offense subs. So to allow the defense that 10 seconds and then to penalize a team for snapping the ball with more than 29 seconds left……crazy. this isnt about safety at all, its about Saban struggling against up tempo teams and now he’s looking to get his advantage back. Maybe Nick needs to recruit a different type athlete instead of trying to slow down everybody else…..

    • Yet they call that penalty a “delay of game”?!! How the hell are they delaying the game when they snap it before 29 seconds? That isn’t a delay but a move the hell out of the way and let us play and get this game over with play. The refs and defense need to be called for delay of game penalties in this situation.

  • This whole idea about player safety is total BS! It is about one thing and one thing only, preserving a style of play implemented by certain coaches, PERIOD. The fact that there is no study around this topic to validate the concern for safety should put that to rest. Dave Bartoo, of college football matrix has looked at this concept using data from 2012 and his research shows that in fact, SLOWER paced teams lead to more injuries! So, let’s stop hiding behind safety and call it what it is.

  • O well. We shall see on 3/10/14. I doubt what any offensive coach says will have an effect on the decision. Fedora can take subtle shots all he wants. I doubt Saban is listening to him if reading any of the comments here….. Roll Tide Y’all!!

    • I’m afraid that you’re right… Nothing that these coaches are saying will have any impact on the voting process, and that makes me sick. You’re obviously an Alabama fan, I’m an Auburn fan, and regardless of our preferences for our team there should be hard evidence supporting this claim before it can even be voted on. Unfortunately it’s already too late for that… and judging by the people who will be voting on this rule, they will hear “player safety” and approve the rule change without even bothering to investigate how player safety will be affected by this rule change (or lack thereof).

      Simply put, I don’t think that the people backing this rule change should be allowed to even propose the rule without having documented evidence of these supposed player safety concerns.

  • We’ve been playing football for a long time. We’ve been studying injuries for a long time. We know what a lot of data says. We know a lot about what causes injuries. ie. How did we figure out how to build football equipment? In the universe of athletic events, for example we know that sprinters get serious long recovery type injuries while distance runners get less serious irritation problems. The shorter the focus of mass-distance-time, the greater potential for any given action causing a more serious injury. More plays equals less focus of mass time distance in any given play. This helps almost player and team in football except those with a reputation for recruiting the biggest smashers-bashers-injurymakers. The game of football is evolving the way it should evolve. These proponents are the last people in football to want to understand safety, and they coach exactly the opposite way.

  • Most people complaining appear to think Saban can not use his 5 stars players to implement his own hurry-up offense, which is a ridiculous thought. Question really is, should he and ever other team go to the hurry-up? Does doing so benefit the players, their health, their chances at the next level, or even the game itself? To me the hurry-up is just another type of trick play, which does work, but is it the direction we want the game to go? I believe Saban already has plans for a hurry-up offense this coming year but doesn’t like going in that direction himself.

  • The supporters of slowdown seem to have this perception that the Hurry up teams have an advantage. We don’t, we have to defend against the same thing. Take the Championship game where AUburn did a much better job then Mizzou of exploiting this and handed us our butts. The “wait we need to get our behemoths off the field”, seems to indicate a one dimensional type of player.

  • Whine, whine, whine! BIg bad evil Saban is going to take away your NHHU offense! It’s not going to happen buy I say if any side of the ball deserves a little break it’s definitely the defense. It’s to the point now where a DB can’t even touch a WR without getting flagged not to mention that if he hits anywhere close to the neck or head area he’s flagged for leading with the helmet. I hope it doesn’t pass because these gimmick offenses always come and go anyway. It’s hard to defend them for a year and then the defenses, especially the well coached one’s always catch up. Alabama had problems with Ole Miss year before last and then shut out the Rebels last year. I worry more about teams like LSU and Georgia that will play straight up and just hit you in the mouth. Johnny Manziel is just a different animal altogether! Let them run that hurry up crap all they want, but keep it from becoming flag football by allowing the defense to make them pay and not have to fear being flagged for a good hit.

  • All the people on here saying that the HUNH is bad because people on Defense can’t get out of the game to rest which might cause more injuries. Well you know if the Offense subs the defense can sub also – that’s the rules. If the Offense doesn’t sub then the Defense can’t sub. So the Defense gets tired and yet the Offense doesn’t. Well guess what I suggest you get your DEFENSE in better shape to run the BIG DOGS.

  • For any Bama fans arguing the same “player safety” B.S., please take a couple of minutes & read this. If you can still rationally use the player safety argument, then you are amazingly ignorant……

  • I wish we didn’t live in a world that is so politically correct that when someone says it for player safety it means we must change the rules. Even if it is stupid and wrong. All this player safety crap is getting on my nerves. Before long they will be playing two hand touch. The targeting rule was just the tip of the iceburg. This kids know the risk the take when they agree to accept that scholarship. I am tired of seeing a flag thrown every time someone gets the crap knocked out of them. I realize that we have become a nation of pussies and half this country is really stupid. The reason I know that is because they voted for Obama twice. These kids are getting a free education and are getting a chance to one day earn millions. If they keep changing the rules every year for player safety, then they are going to ruin the college football and ppl will eventually stop watching it.

  • Again i say… Theffastest offense in 2012 (don’t have stats on 2013) was Oregon with an average of 13 second per play. The 10 second rule doesn’t really effect the HUNToffenses. Only the defenses ability to substitute by gguaranteeing 10 seconds to substitute. You guys are buying into the media hype here.