NCAA wants to slow down offenses; proposes change to targeting rule
Not so fast, college football offenses.
A proposed change by the NCAA football rules committee would prohibit offenses from snapping the ball until at least 10 seconds had run off the 40-second play clock, slowing down the up-tempo, no-huddle attacks that have been making defenses dizzy.
The rule allows defenses time to make a substitution without the offense changing players — as is currently required — and with no fear the ball will be snapped before 29 seconds are left on the play clock. An exception will be made for the final two minutes of each half, when the offense can snap the ball as quickly as it wants.
"This rules change is being made to enhance student-athlete safety by guaranteeing a small window for both teams to substitute," Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, chair of the football rules committee, said in a statement Wednesday. "As the average number of plays per game has increased, this issue has been discussed with greater frequency by the committee in recent years and we felt like it was time to act in the interests of protecting our student-athletes."
The committee also proposed a change to the targeting rule that would eliminate the 15-yard penalty when instant replay officials overturn an ejection. Last year, when a targeting penalty was called, the 15-yard penalty stood even if the replay official determined the player should be allowed to stay in the game.
Both proposals need approval from the playing rules oversight panel, which is schedule to consider them on March 6.
The proposal to slow down offenses will have a hard time passing if the many coaches who run up-tempo these days have anything to say about it.
"It's ridiculous," said Arizona's Rich Rodriguez, who has been at the forefront of the fast football trend with his spread offense.
"For me it goes back to the fundamental rules of football. The offense knows where they are going and when they are going to snap the ball. That's their advantage. The defense is allowed to move all 11 guys before the ball is snapped. That's their advantage.
"What's next? You can only have three downs? If you play that extra down you have more chance of injury."
The committee said "10 seconds provides sufficient time for defensive player substitutions without inhibiting the ability of an offense to play at a fast pace. Research indicated that teams with fast-paced, no-huddle offenses rarely snap the ball with 30 seconds or more on the play clock."