Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze was a guest on the Paul Finebaum radio show this afternoon. His main topic of discussion was the announcement made by the NCAA Football Rules Committee Wednesday on a proposal that puts a limit on when an offense can snap the ball.
The committee, which met at NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis Tuesday and Wednesday, framed the proposal around substitutions on defense. What the committee, made up of coaches such as Air Force’s Troy Calhoun, want to see put in place for the upcoming season is a 10-second window that would allow defensive units to substitute. A play has to be run within 40 seconds or else an offensive unit faces a 5-yard penalty, but there hasn’t been a limit put on offenses on when a play can be snapped. The exception to the rule would be in the last two minutes of the first and second half.
In the release sent out by the NCAA, it states the proposal was made around the safety for a player (s).
Freeze, who runs an up-tempo offense at Ole Miss, weighed in on the subject, asking to see data that players have become more injured due to offenses playing at a faster pace.
“First, I will say we coach a dangerous game. There is no way around it. I don’t think you can put your kids in a situation to where they’re not a risk and we all understand that. I’ve coached high school and small college and now in the SEC and the safety of our players is always a priority. I don’t know any coach that’s not on their mind, to keep their players as safe as possible and play a great game that we love,” Freeze said. “As far as this one, my understanding is it’s a non-rule change year and in order to change a rule, there has to be documented evidence or data that proves that the opinions shared in that room are very accurate and we’re not changing just because it doesn’t feel right to one side or the other.”
Freeze went on to say that there are a lot of things in college football that can be discussed such as cut blocks.
“They’re not safe but it’s part of the game right now. So the safety of our players is the priority but I have yet to see any data, and I’ve talked to some trainers this morning, and I just don’t think that it’s there,” Freeze said. “If it is, I would love to see it and I would love to see who presented this data to the committee. Their answer to me, when I talked to some of the committee members was well, is it’s just common sense as you’re playing more players. My response to that was there are some other things that are common sense also but we’re not attacking those.”
Freeze said that in the Southeastern Conference, there is probably going to be a rotation of new defensive linemen every three plays if this passes and he doesn’t feel like that is going to be safe for opposing offensive linemen.
“I think it’s very advantageous for them to be able to do that, particular the teams that are deeper in talent, to be able to rotate at will,” Freeze said. “In the history of football, defensive teams, they can line up wherever they want to and move around, all 11 of them at one time, while offenses can only move one guy at one time. They can put as many on the line as they want. They can get a 10-yard running start if they want and hit the line of scrimmage if they time it right. All of that presents a risk. The one thing we’ve always been able to control is when you snap the football. To me, if it is a safety issue, which I understand is the only way it can get put in, I would love to see the data.”
The American Football Coaches Association has an annual meeting in January and Freeze said this subject was never brought up last month, a point that he said is why he objects the process this proposal is being announced.
“This could be my fault. Maybe I should have known it was going to be brought up at this committee meeting in Indianapolis, I don’t know. I don’t know how I missed it but I would love to know who the presenters were and did someone from our side of the table get to adequately express our concerns throughout the entire membership,” Freeze said. “These decisions affect livelihoods. It was also my understanding that there was no one from the Big 5 conferences that were represented on the committee. I would love to see the data if it’s truly a safety concern and I would love for someone to explain the process and if this is the way we go about changing rules that affect everybody.” (February 13, 2014)