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Auburn’s Malzahn (No Surprise) Opposes Potential Rule Change To Slow Down Offenses

Gus MalzahnIt’s not hard to figure out which coaches will come down on which side of a proposed rule change that would slow college football’s up-tempo offenses.  Defensive-minded coaches like Nick Saban and Bret Bielema back the measure on the basis that playing 100 miles per hour increases the odds that players will be injured.  Up-tempo coaches like Hugh Freeze and Gus Malzahn call “bollocks” and believe the rule to be a weak attempt to slow down a trend that’s put a serious hurt on college football’s defenses.

As a refresher, this writer feels:

 

*  That the uber-up-tempo offenses are more gimmick than strategy.  Some have responded by saying that the Denver Broncos must’ve “gimmicked” their way to the Super Bowl, but that’s a hollow argument.  No professional team — not even Chip Kelly’s Philadelphia Eagles — sprint back to the line of scrimmage after every play.  A hurry-up is one thing, the up-tempo run by Oregon, Auburn and Ole Miss is wholly different.

*  That the injury issue is obvious, just not in the way that defensive-minded coaches have suggested.  I do not buy the argument that winded defensive-linemen are at greater risk of injury.  There’s no evidence to back that up.  However, playing more plays over the course of a game and season obviously does increase the risk of injury.  If I drive five miles and you drive 500, you’re at greater risk of having an accident.  If you swim one day per year and I swim 365 days per year, I’m at greater risk of drowning.  No evidence required on that front, folks, just logic.

*  That there’s nothing wrong with creating a rule to make a college sport more enjoyable.  Before some of you argue that point I’ve got two words for you: shot clock.  In college basketball, the “strategy” known as the four-corners offense was forever nixed with the addition of a shot clock in the 1980s.  If you feel that use of the game clock — slowing things down or speeding things up — is a strategy and not a gimmick and you oppose rules that impact the way teams are allowed to use that clock, then you must be for the rollback of the shot-clock rule in college hoops.  Pretty simple.  Either you support rules change impacting clock use or you do not.  Personally, I feel the four-corners was a gimmick — like the go-go offenses in football today — and that the addition of the shot clock was a good rule change to make the game more appealing.  Likewise, I feel keeping the scores out of the 100s in football is appealing.

 

Malzahn, well, he disagrees.  The man who led Auburn to within a whisker of the BCS Championship wants the whole rule tabled for a year so a “healthy debate” can take place.

“There’s absolutely zero evidence, documented evidence, that (it) is hazardous on the pace of play, only opinions,” Malzahn said yesterday.  (Opinions and simple logic, as we pointed out above.)  ”What I asked (Troy Calhoun) to do is move this to next year where it is a rule-change year, that we can hear both sides and have a healthy debate on moving forward with the rules.”

Calhoun — Air Force’s head coach — is the chair of the NCAA football rules committee.  He sounded like a man who agreed with Malzahn while guesting on Tim Brando’s radio show yesterday.  ”If there’s no medical data that can support it, then there’s no way.  There should not be a rule.”

Fair enough.  I also agree with Malzahn that this type of rule shouldn’t be implemented quickly (though it is amusing that in this instance Auburn’s coach is anti-hurry-up).  Let there be debate and data-gathering.

How that data is viewed, however, will be the issue.  Some have already written that “the 20 slowest teams in Year X had more injuries than the 20 fastest teams,” etc.  A better way of determining the impact of playing more plays would be to look at the average number of plays run in the power conferences — those schools having better athletes — and compare them to the number of season-ending injuries.  Are snaps and injuries on the rise in the big boy leagues?  Or is there no connection at all?

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SEC Headlines 2/7/2014

headlines-friSEC Recruiting

1. There are 72 early enrollees across the 14 SEC schools.  Athlon Sports names them all.

2. Why the wait?  LSU has reportedly already received letter of intent from a player who won’t make his announcement until Monday.

3. Grantland’s Holly Anderson spent National Signing Day inside the Tennessee War Room. SI’s Andy Staples does the same.

4. Tennessee hasn’t had a first-team All-SEC running back since 2001.  Will this latest class change that?

5. Does Mark Stoops’ recruiting success mean the balance of power is switching from Louisville to Kentucky in the Bluegrass State?

6. Comments on Texas A&M’s recruiting class mostly focus on quarterback Kyle Allen.

7. Ole Miss picked up two cornerbacks that may be able to play right away.

8. A lot of spots to fill at Florida means the 2014 class will get early opportunities to play.

9. Who are considered some of the biggest “flips” this year in the SEC?

10. Auburn put a focus on signing bigger defensive backs.

11. So should we already declare Alabama the winner of this year’s Iron Bowl?  Not so fast, my friend.

12. Sounds a lot like Missouri coach Gary Pinkel.  Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen relies on his own system of ranking players.

13. “Maybe there is something to be said about Pinkel and Co.’s system after all.”

14. Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason likes the flexibility in his signing class.  ”There are nine guys (in the signing class) that could play multiple positions.”

SEC Football

15. Georgia offensive lineman Mark Beard decided to leave Georgia – then changed his mind.

16. Georgia A.D. Greg McGarity on changes to Mark Richt’s staff: “There’s a chemistry among that staff that’s refreshing to see.”

17. Bovada’s latest Heisman odds lists 23 players.  Georgia’s Todd Gurley at 12-1. Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott makes the list.

18. Eye-opening stat:  ”From 2009-12, only eight FBS programs (7 percent) had the same head coach, offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator all four years.”

SEC/NFL draft

19. A dozen former Alabama players get invited to the combine, the most of any school.  LSU second with 11 players.

20. Five from Auburn get invites.

21. Auburn tackle Greg Robinson could go as high as No. 2 overall to the Saint Louis Rams.

22. Sports Illustrated’s latest mock draft has Texas A&M tackle Jake Matthews going No. 2 overall.

23. Mel Kiper thinks South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney will go either first or third overall.

SEC Basketball

24. Arkansas will reportedly retire No. 42 in honor of former President Bill Clinton.

25. Kentucky coach John Calipari has “compiled an enemies list that would make Richard Nixon proud.”

26. How much did LSU hurt its NCAA Tournament chances with a loss at Georgia last night?

27. A 35-point effort from Bobby Portis means the Arkansas freshman will draw extra attention but coach Mike Anderson isn’t worried: “He’s a very good passer.

28. Vanderbilt will try to slow it down against the Razorbacks on Saturday.

29. Tennessee’s Jordan McRae - a dark horse candidate for SEC Player of the Year?

30. SEC Power Rankings - from No. 1 Florida to No. 14 South Carolina.

SEC/College News

31. At least 65 former athletes suing NCAA over concussions  including many former SEC football players.

SEC Media

32. SEC Media Days expanding to four days this year.  Auburn and Gus Malzahn will open it on Monday, July 14.

33. Kentucky Sports Radio accused of copyright infringement.

Extras

34. All the assistant coaches at Texas getting multi-year contracts.

35. Former Florida coach Ron Zook reportedly joining the staff of the Green Bay Packers.

36. A mother pens a letter to the Denver Broncos quarterback.  Dear Mr. Manning…

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Rumors Continue To Tie Vandy’s Franklin To Southern Cal Gig

james-franklin-trojan-helmetSouthern California AD Pat Haden is reportedly nearing the end of his search for a new football coach.  Interim coach (and former Ole Miss coach) Ed Orgeron is no longer in the running for the Trojans’ full-time gig.  Boise State’s Chris Petersen has pulled his name out of the hat, as usual.

That leaves three candidates that we know of: Washington’s Steve Sarkisian (already interviewed), Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio (already interviewed), and Vanderbilt’s James Franklin.

Sarkisian is a former Trojan assistant.  Del Rio is a former USC player.  Franklin is the wild card.

From the coach’s perspective, it would be almost impossible to turn down one of the five best coaching jobs in the country to remain at Vanderbilt.  Yes, the school — like Southern Cal — is private and can toss plenty of cash around.  But Franklin has already worked miracles in Nashville.  He’s led the school to three straight bowl games for the first time ever and he’s won eight games in back-to-back years (with a chance to win nine in back-to-back seasons).  That’s not been done at Vandy since the 1920s.

Plus, Franklin has repeatedly called on fans to turn out for Commodore football games.  They haven’t.  There were thousands of empty seats for both the Kentucky and Wake Forest games as VU made its stretch drive.  Vanderbilt Stadium seats just 40,000, so unfilled seats are sure to chap a coach with Franklin’s aspirations.

Franklin also might be thinking it’s time to jump while the getting’s good.  Vanderbilt has beaten just two FBS squads with winning records over the last two years.  At some point, even at Vandy, fans will want more.  Ask Dan Mullen about feasting on cupcakes for too long.

Vandy AD David Williams needs to pull out all the stops to keep Franklin and you can be sure that he will.  But if USC offers, it’s hard to imagine Franklin not accepting.

However, oother issue at play is the rape trial involving four ex-VU footballers.  Defense attorneys have requested copies of the text messages sent back-and-forth between the players involved and Vandy’s coaches during the attempted cover-up.  Haden will have to discuss that matter with Franklin on the uber-slim chance that Vandy’s head coach in any way aided his players in trying to hide the deed.  That’s extremely doubtful, mind you, but after the Penn State scandal, it wouldn’t be prudent for an AD to hire a coach without asking about such an ugly episode.

USC is expected to name a coach in the next three weeks.

Stay tuned…

 

(UPDATESarkisian has now said he did not interview with Southern Cal.)

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