Dick Harmon: Dick Harmon: Proposed NCAA football rule to slow down offenses is ridiculous

Published: Saturday, Feb. 15 2014 6:00 p.m. MST

While Alabama head coach Nick Saban says about player safety, this is a simple self-interest power play.

Patrick Semansky, Associated Press

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The proposed NCAA football rule change to slow down hurry-up offenses is dumb.

No matter what the main complainer — Alabama coach Nick Saban — says about player safety, this is a simple self-interest power play.

It is goofy, laughable and stupid.

Saban doesn't like the hurry-up because he can’t substitute his giant defensive stars in fast enough and it negates his recruiting advantage. It was Auburn’s hurry-up that was problematic for Alabama last fall. Saban first complained about the “unfairness” of up-tempo offenses in October 2012 — just after Ole Miss stressed the Tide.

It also stuck in his craw that Utah quarterback Brian Johnson went to a hurry-up offense in the 2009 Sugar Bowl and befuddled his behemoths.

Saban cites “safety” of players as a need to slow the game down with a rule that would penalize an offense for hiking the ball before 29 seconds remain on the 40-second play clock. Hogwash. Player safety? That’s what the change in the kickoff rule was for. That’s why we have the new targeting and horse collar rules.

Those addressed legitimate health concerns.

Saban joined Arkansas coach Bret Bielema in voicing concerns about up-tempo, no-huddle offenses to the NCAA rules committee. That committee, for some insane reason, actually took it seriously and passed a proposal to send before the playing rules oversight committee on March 6.

If that committee rubber stamps the proposed change, the NCAA is comprised of bigger idiots than we know have already blown decision after decision.

Plain and simple, this is a rule that would help Saban. It is a proposed rule to limit strategy, to take away tactics, game plans and designs that other college football programs want to use to balance the scales and make it a challenge for the Alabamas of college football.

This is like playing chess and making a rule that the knight or rook can’t be used on consecutive moves. It’s like making a rule in basketball that a team can’t fast break unless an opponent has two guys back.

Oklahoma coach Mike Gundy tweeted out this week, “The 10-second rule is like asking basketball to take away the shot clock — Boring!. It’s like asking a blitzing linebacker to raise his hand.”

This proposed rule states that the offense cannot hike the ball during the first 10 seconds of the 40-second game clock and that substitutions during that period can be freely made. The proposal does allow for normal play during the final two minutes of each half.

The proposed penalty? A delay of game for going too fast.

Dumb, dumb and dumber.

This rule is nothing but college football’s elite and old school regime throwing their weight around, trying to tweak the rules to their competitive advantage. That Saban is in the SEC, and speaks from a powerful pulpit, gives the suggestion more credence than necessity, more bark than needed bite.

It certainly doesn’t make it right or good for college football. There is no data to prove that playing fast harms players. Besides, rarely does a team hike the ball in less than 10 seconds, so it's unnecessary.

In a reaction interview to this proposal, Washington State coach Mike Leach said, “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 rework their solutions to problems, then what they do is to beg for a rule. I think it’s disgusting.”

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