Arizona’s Rodriguez fuming over proposed rule change

Rich Rodriguez has been highly critical of an NCAA rules proposal that would limit offensive tempo.

Rogelio V. Solis/AP

TUCSON, Ariz. — A day after the NCAA announced that it would consider a rules proposal that would in effect change the way college football teams would be able to play on offense, Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez was still upset.

With Rodriguez overseeing the offense, Arizona lives by the no-huddle, quick-strike attack, and the rules change — if adopted — would greatly affect his team’s ability to play up-tempo, one of his staples throughout a successful career.

The changes proposed by the NCAA Football Rules Committee won’t be discussed until March 6, when they will be reviewed by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel. One of the recommend changes would allow defenses to substitute within the first 10 seconds of the 40-second play clock, with offenses not allowed to snap the ball during that time. The rule would not apply in the game’s final two minutes.

If the offense snaps the ball before the 30-second mark on the play clock, it would be penalized five yards for delay of game. Under current rules, defenses aren’t guaranteed an opportunity to substitute unless the offense subs first.

In a statement released through the NCAA on Thursday, the NCAA Football Rules Committee said "research indicated that teams with fast-paced, no-huddle offenses rarely snap the ball with 30 seconds or more on the play clock."

Rodriguez called the proposal "shocking" and "ridiculous," adding that he was surprised the proposal even "got this far."

this one was just shoved in front of the football rules committee. They didn’t call anybody. They just took somebody’s opinion, and maybe they have their own agenda on that committee (and thought), ‘Oh yeah, this is better.’

Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez

It’s thought that Alabama coach Nick Saban and Arkansas coach Bret Bielema were behind the proposed changes. They were present during the proposal process as non-voting members of the rules committee and have been publicly critical of faster-paced offenses.

The NCAA statement also said the proposed change "aligns with a request from the Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports that sport rules committees review substitution rules in regards to player safety."

According to the NCAA statement, in the NCAA’s non-rules-change years, proposals can be made only for safety reasons or for modifications that enhance the intent of a previous rule change.

Rodriguez said that while he’s all for player safety, there has yet to be data presented showing that injuries are increasedd by quicker play. He also thinks playing fast "is just the opposite" when it comes to injuries, adding, "We think we have less injuries. It’s one of the reasons we do that."

In discussing the topic on ESPN Radio with Colin Cowherd on Friday morning, Rodriguez said he was still "angry" about the proposed change.

"I am, and what I’m more angry about is that we have a great governing body in the American Coaches Football Association, and here’s a rule that would affect so many teams (and you’d think something) like this would be discussed and talked about and people would give their opinion," Rodriguez said. "But this one was just shoved in front of the football rules committee. They didn’t call anybody. They just took somebody’s opinion, and maybe they have their own agenda on that committee (and thought), ‘Oh yeah, this is better.’ Show us the hard data.

"The game is in a good spot right now. People are watching it, and now we’re going over schemes? What’s (next)? Are we going to make everybody get into a three-point stance? It’s silly."