Sorry, Coach Saban: 10-second rule is tabled

Thank goodness the 10-second rule proposal was tabled. You see: Alabama’s Nick Saban doesn’t always get his way.

The proposed change—made in the name of player safety and trumpeted by Saban–would have put the brakes on those fun, fast-paced offenses that have become the rage in college football. Instead, the NCAA Football Rules Committee has tabled the directive one day before the NCAA’s 11-member playing rules oversight panel was slated to vote to make the proposal a rule for 2014.

The Big Ten school that would have been impacted the most by this change would have been Indiana, where Kevin Wilson has made the identity of his team a quick-tempo attack that likes to rip off as many plays as possible. It’s about gaining an edge vs. foes that often have more talent. It all makes perfect sense. That’s what coaching is about: Getting an edge. Oregon and Auburn are two schools that have made this attack an art-form and have won a lot of games with it.

If the 10-second rule would have been passed, it would have prohibited the Hoosiers from snapping the ball until at least 10 seconds had run off the 40-second play clock to allow defenses to substitute. The only exception would be in the final two minutes of each half or if the play clock began at 25 seconds.

Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

I spoke to some Big Ten offensive coordinators about the proposed change in February. And, they weren’t too fired up about it.

Seth Littrell was the offensive coordinator at Indiana the last two seasons before taking the same post at North Carolina in the offseason. He told me the rule change was hogwash.

“We can talk player safety all we want,” said Littrell. “But I don’t think it’s about player safety. It has to do more with certain coaches don’t like the fact they have to make play calls. The ones wanting to change the rule are the coaches who can’t defend it.”

Saban—the reigning king of college football–became the face of the rule change, saying these fast-paced attacks were bad for player safety. Oh, and Alabama also doesn’t run such an offense. If the coach at East Kutztown State had wanted this change, it never would have seen then light of day. But because Saban was behind it, the rule proposal had credibility—even though the premise that player safety was being compromised by these go-go offenses never was proven.

“If they show data that the change is for player safety, then I am all for it,” Illinois offensive coordinator Bill Cubit told me. “But I don’t see it.”

Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi has been among the best in the nation at slowing down these hyper-speed offenses. If he can do it, why can’t other coordinators?

“We are gonna out-condition those offenses,” Narduzzi told me. “If that’s what you want to do, it’s our job to coach against. If coaches don’t understand how to stop it, they need to clinic and find out how to do it.”

Yep. It’s called coaching. And, I guess Saban and Co., are gonna have to coach a little harder to figure out how to slow down these attacks that have helped make the sport so popular.

About Tom Dienhart BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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Dave on 3/6/2014 @ 12:12pm EDT Said:

I know they’re quick, but how often did the Hoosiers snap in < 10 seconds? Thought I read it was pretty rare to get a play off that quick anyway (like only a couple times per game for even the Oregon's of the world).