I have a hard time taking any comments by Saban on player safety seriously after his DL pile drove a RB's head and neck into the ground last year.
Last season, Alabama’s Nick Saban was the first coach — at least the first to get national media coverage — to suggest that the trend of up-tempo offenses in college football could be dangerous. Yes, dangerous.
Well, Saban now has some company. Arkansas coach Bret Bielema recently proposed a rule change that would create “a 15-second substitution period” that would allow defenses time to make substitutions. According to the new Razorbacks coach:
“Not to get on the coattails of some of the other coaches, there is a lot of truth that the way offensive philosophies are driven now, there’s times where you can’t get a defensive substitution in for eight-, 10-, 12-play drives. That has an effect on safety of that student-athlete, especially the bigger defensive linemen, that is really real.”
Naturally, coaches who run frenetic, no-huddle offenses see things just a bit differently. Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze, for example, pointed out to Al.com that “offensive players a playing, too, the same number of snaps… are they in danger also?”
Several conferences have taken it upon themselves to conduct studies on player safety in recent years, specifically in the area of helmet-first collisions. If enough defensive-minded coaches speak out, perhaps a conference or two will investigate to see if there really are any connections between hurry-up offenses and injuries.
Our guess is that they wouldn’t find anything conclusive. This smells more like a ploy by defense-first coaches who don’t like the advantage offenses now hold. That said, it can’t hurt for the SEC or another league or the NCAA to look into the matter.