Babers against change that will slow down offenses PDF Print E-mail
Written by JACK CARLE, Sentinel Sports Editor   
Friday, 21 February 2014 09:21
Dino Babers, who was hired as Bowling Green's head football coach just over two months ago, is known for his high-octane offense.
And even before Falcon fans can see his offensive scheme in action, the NCAA is moving to slow it down.
The NCAA Football Rules Committee has proposed a change that will allow defensive players to substitute within the first 10 seconds of the 40-second play clock, except for the final two minutes of each half.
After the football rules committee met earlier this month, Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, the committee chairman, said pace of play had been discussed in recent years and committee members felt it was "time to act in the interests of protecting our student-athletes."
Alabama coach Nick Saban and Arkansas coach Bret Bielema, who run more traditional offenses, met with the committee and voiced their support for the proposal.
Asked why coaches who might oppose the proposal didn't meet with the committee, Calhoun said he would encourage those coaches to come forward.
That change would force the offense to wait until there were 29 seconds left on the play clock to snap the ball. If the ball is snapped prematurely, the offense would be hit with a 5-yard penalty.
''Why do they want to change the rules at all? It's the most exciting time in college football,'' Babers said. ''If I'm not mistaken we had more attendance in college football last year than ever before.
''We are competing for entertainment dollars. We need to put something out on the football field that allows fans to come and enjoy what it going on.''
Babers added that football is a game of phases, both offensively and defensively.
''This up-tempo phase will pass as soon as the defense figures out how to stop it,'' he said. ''It's always been the case in football, the cycles. There has been the Wishbone, the run-and-shoot, throw it every snap, spread.
''It's no different than the defensive cycles,'' Babers continued. ''I remember the first time I saw the 46 defense. I didn't know what (play) to call. I got my tail whipped. I didn't know how to block it.''
Babers said the zone blitz, and the 33 stack are other examples of defensive cycles.
But the offensive coaches have figured out a way to run successful plays against the different defenses.
''It's almost like they (defensive coaches) don't want to do their homework,'' Babers said. ''It's almost like they want to cheat and get the answers or change the test to the answers that they want.''
If implemented, the new rule could hamper comeback attempts, Babers said.
''If you think back to the greatest comeback wins of all time, all of those had to do with scoring a lot of points in the fourth quarter because of hurry-up offenses,'' Babers said.
''If you're going to tell an offensive coordinator when he can go to a two-minute offense, only when there are two minutes left, you are eliminating the comeback victories in all of our memories,'' Babers said. ''So we have to play a certain style of offense until there two minutes left, and as soon as the clock hits 1:59, we can show everybody how much we really want to win by playing fast?''
Earlier this week, Calhoun said the proposal should not go forward if there is no hard evidence showing up-tempo offenses endanger defensive players. He added that he has yet to see a medical study linking the rapid pace of an offense to potential health issues for defensive players.
"If there is nothing that arises that's firm, there's no way you want to enact a rule. That doesn't make any sense," Calhoun said during a call with reporters. "But if there is something that surfaces where there is legitimate concern here, now you're talking about some responsibility that's involved."
The Playing Rules Oversight Commission, which meets March 6, is the body that would approve the proposal for it to go into effect next season. Calhoun said evidence would need to be presented before the comment period ends March 3.
This is a non-rules change year for the NCAA, but exceptions can be made for rules that affect player safety.
(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)

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