NEW YORK (AP) — An NCAA rules committee has tabled a proposal to penalize college football offenses for snapping the ball before 10 seconds had run off the 40-second play clock, The Associated Press has learned.
After a conference call by the football rules committee, it was agreed the so-called 10-second rule would not be given to the playing rules oversight panel on Thursday for approval, according to a person with knowledge of the decision who spoke Wednesday on condition of anonymity because an official announcement had not been made. ESPN and USA Today first reported the proposal had been shelved.
The rule, touted as move to protect players by slowing down the fast-break offenses so prevalent now in college football, infuriated many coaches. Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez and Texas Tech’s Kliff Kingsbury were among the critics who said there was no proof that up-tempo offenses increased the risk of injuries.
Rodriguez and Arizona went to so far as to make a video spoof of the movie "Speed" to get the point across.
"Let’s not distort the facts because of your personal agenda," Rodriguez says in the YouTube clip.
The rule called for penalizing offenses 5 yards for snapping the ball before 10 seconds had run off the play clock. Arkansas coach Bret Bielema and Alabama’s Nick Saban were not on the committee but did push for changes to control the ever-quickening pace of play — both run slower, pro-style offenses — and the proposal was passed by the rules committee on Feb. 12.
What followed was three weeks of heated debate among college football fans and coaches about the evolution of football. An ESPN survey of the 128 FBS coaches published last week found only 25 supported the proposal and 93 were opposed.
The proposal caught many coaches by surprise because this is non-change year for NCAA rules. But exceptions could be made for rules related to player safety. Supporters said they were concerned about the increased number of plays in games and that fatigued defensive players could not be taken off the field when offenses were rushing to the line of scrimmage right after the ball was spotted by officials.
"I didn’t offer any solutions to the problems," Saban said Wednesday before news broke about the proposal being tabled. "I just not only gave my opinion, but presented a lot statistical data that would support the fact that pace of play is creating a lot longer games and a lot more plays in games."
"Now I know a lot of you say there’s no statistical information that says if you play 88 plays in the game you have a better chance to get hurt if you play 65 plays in a game. Over 12 games that 250 plays, approximately. That’s four games more that you are playing."
Bielema said he feared for players with the sickle cell trait, a genetic condition that can alter red blood cells during strenuous exercise and cause muscles to break down. The Razorbacks coach said they could be put in danger playing against by no-huddle offenses.
But even rules committee chair Troy Calhoun, the coach at Air Force, acknowledged after the proposal passed that the lack of data supporting safety concerns would make the change difficult to pass.