I usually try not to write long diatribes on certain things regarding anything as a blogger. I have my opinions and they are what they are. In my analysis of the way our teams perform, I try to be as fair as possible, but in the end, I see what I see, you can agree or disagree, and that is what the comment section is for. There is one thing I do have a strong opinion on, and that is this little news piece that I read up on via Twitter while getting my car serviced yesterday.
The NCAA Football Rules Committee has proposed changes to two rules, changing how targeting and defensive substitutions are handled, the organization announced Wednesday.
The first proposal is an attempt to change the targeting rule, which caught fire in its first year last season. The rule change would eliminate one of the main complaints — under the original rule, a targeting call (and ejection) overturned by the replay booth would still result in a 15-yard penalty. This proposal would eliminate the 15-yard penalty if the targeting call is overturned.
The second, and more controversial rule, addresses defensive substitutions and hurry-up offenses. Under this proposal, offenses would not be able to snap the ball in the first 10 seconds of the play clock, to allow defenses to make the proper substitutions. If an offense attempts to snap the ball in this time, a 5-yard delay-of-game penalty would be assessed. The rule wouldn’t be in play during the last two minutes of each half.
The logic seems a bit backwards.
Ain’t that the truth.
There are 4 coaches behind this: Arkansas Head Coach Bret Bielema, Air Force Head Coach Troy Calhoun, Lousiana-Monroe Head Coach Todd Berry, and Alabama’s Nick Saban. All of these guys have certain things in common. First, I would rather spend my Saturdays watching paint dry than watch their respective offenses. Second, they are all mossback types that hate the way the game is evolving. Third, they hate to throw the ball. Finally, they hate the fact they have to change their game plans to stop teams that execute effective hurry ups very well. There are however, some coaches who are speaking their mind and defending their preferred method of offensive attack.
Rich Rodriguez-(Arizona) Via Twitter
“When you snap the ball has always been a fundamental edge for the offense what’s next– 3 downs like Canada?#LetsGetBoring”
“Fundamental advantage for defense- pre snap movement maybe that should be reviewed? #WhoMakesTheseRules”
Neal Brown, Kentucky Offensive Coordinator-
“Not a fan, I am against the rule.”
Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss-
“Player safety? Please, I am not buying that. 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, 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?”
Dana Holgerson, West Virginia-
“Yeah, I’d tell (them) to get over it because it’s not going to change. It’s going into the NFL, for crying out loud. There’s people being hired in the NFL that have the background in college football to be able to create a little bit more parity. Don’t see it changing any time soon, so you’d better learn to adapt to it.”
And of course…Mike Leach, Washington State.
“First off, [I] doubt it will pass,”Second, it’s ridiculous. All this tinkering is ridiculous. I think it deteriorates the game. It’s always been a game of creativity and strategy. So anytime someone doesn’t want to go back to the drawing board or re-work their solutions to problems, then what they do is to beg for a rule. I think it’s disgusting. That’s really insulting that they are hiding behind player safety just because somebody wants an advantage. That’s crazy. My suggestion is rather than spending a bunch of time coming up with a bunch of really stupid rules, spend that time coaching harder, 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.”
I could not agree more, and here is why.
First, I will admit I am biased. I love the spread, and it has done wonders for the game of Football. Football can be played in more than just the traditional run first, second and third way. Some coaches and fans love that style, and that is cool. Well, I hate it and love offenses that throw the ball and put up points. My biggest bone to pick is with Saban. This offense has been going on for over a half decade, and he started to complain when one thing happened, Texas A&M and Kevin Sumlin came into the SEC, with a fun and gun offense, the perfect quarterback for it in Johnny Manziel, and the perfect guy to coordinate it in Kliff Kingsbury. Saban did not take it seriously until that “gimmick offense” kicked his butt on his home field in Tuscaloosa and almost got him again this year. He realized that if he played any really good team that ran the hurry up, IE, a Oregon or a Oklahoma State team, he might be dead in the water. Hal Mumme knew this when he was coaching against Alabama in the late 90’s. “By play 20, the defense will be sucking wind, by play 40, they will be on one knee, by play 60, they will be immobilized.” Saban knows this, like his other comrades, they are just not being honest enough to say it, and that riles me up.
Texas Tech ran 87 plays per game this year, and if you ask Kliff Kingsbury, he would have wanted more. Baylor ran around 85. Long story short, the game is evolving, and rather than adapt to it, Saban and crew want to change the rules. I also have heard the spread is not “true football.” That is sheer nonsense. It is an innovative offense that requires lineman to pass block, Quarterbacks to make progressions, read defenses, change play calls on the fly, and throw the ball sometimes 70 times a game. Skill guys who have to block, catch, and find open spaces to create yards. It is a smart way to compete when you do not have the pick of the litter, like Saban does. That is why I have respect for the Mack Browns of the world in this instance. When Mike Leach came to Texas Tech and started throwing for all of these yards, and twice cost Mack a shot a national titles by beating him in huge games, Mack did not go cry to the rules committee. He told press openly, “When we play Texas Tech, we have to change everything we do. We have to stay on the field and keep them off, and we have play good defense to snuff out their screens, draws, and hitches because they throw it better than anyone in the country.” In other words, Mack was doing what Leach is telling the mossback to do, accept it is here and adapt. I wonder what the folks down in Austin feel now about having St. Nick Saban still in Tuscaloosa.
Now, how does affect us? We run an offense that stresses tempo. We throw a lot, and this season, we scored 51, 43, 55, 41 and 65 points in 5 of our 7 wins. Matt Storm, our offensive coordinator, stresses tempo and running the other team down, but has a run game component. It is not just all about passing the ball, but about gashing defenses, and as the season went on saw you the group go petal to the metal. We ran 71 plays per game, and had it not been for the last two games when we had two teams keep us off the field, we would have had probably close to more like 77-80 plays per game. Also, some games we had to control the clock and milk the game away. Now, this raises another question. If you have a punishing run game that is hard to stop, what are you going to do with a 40 second play clock? You are going to gash for 4-5 yards a pop, run the clock down to about 4 seconds, snap the ball and keep doing what you are doing. What is the point in doing this? Run the other team down of course. Run-minded coaches would absolutely go ape if someone like an Art Briles, Mark Helfrich, or Kevin Sumlin went before the NCAA and said they wanted the play clock knocked down to 25 seconds because it would benefit them and having trouble stopping a potent Power I offense or triple option offense. They would be fuming, and rightfully so.
It comes right down to a sense of entitlement. Some traditional power that runs a traditional offense that get the pick of the recruiting litter feel they should win, and when a team with not as much talent or pedigree comes in with an offensive system that balances the playing field, they get upset because they feel everyone should play like them with what they have, even if they are not breaking any rules. So what to do? Hamstring your competition by creating rules that force them to make them play by YOUR rules. Come on now.
One of the great things about Division II is how accessible conference offices are. I called the LSC Headquarters and got to speak the media relations director. She told she had heard what was going on. I asked her point blank if it would affect us. Her reply? “Honestly, if this passes up there, there is a high likelihood it would become a rule here, I just don’t see them changing a rule like that and it not affecting us, but I seriously doubt it passes.”
Long story short, this rule is a gentleman’s way of cheating. It is also bad for the game. It shrinks innovation, makes the games less exciting, and gives programs who do not have the money or pedigree one more weight to carry to compete against the big boys. The Alabama’s, Arkanasas, and USC’s of the world can keep their money, their alums, and their undue influence. Just let us keep our offense.
Oh yeah, these two guys square off first week of the new college Football season in Morgantown.
Spread ’em and Shred ’em Dana. (And Sumlin, Briles, and Leach, and Kliff, and Neal, and Sonny…..ughh you get the point.)