February 19th, 2014 11:30 AM║ Posted By: John Pennington ║ Permalink
║ Schools: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt
Tags: Auburn, Denver Broncos, Tim Brando, Troy Calhoun
It’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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