BLOG — Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze received some good news shortly before the Rebels’ second spring practice started late Wednesday afternoon. His offense won’t have to slow down in 2014.
The NCAA Football Rules Committee tabled a rule proposal earlier in the day that would’ve penalized offenses five yards for snapping the ball within the first 10 seconds of the play clock, according to a report from USA Today. The 11-person committee decided to drop the proposal a day before it was scheduled to be voted on by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel.
Had the oversight panel received the proposal and voted in favor of it, the rule would’ve gone into effect this coming season. Instead, up-tempo offenses will be able to operate as usual.
“I’m happy,” Freeze said following Wednesday’s practice inside the Manning Center. “I’m glad it’s over with right now and we can move forward.”
The proposal was adopted by the rules committee early last month, but the controversy that followed was fierce. Advocates for the rule change such as Arkansas’ Bret Bielema, Alabama’s Nick Saban and Air Force’s Troy Calhoun, who serves as the rules committee chairman, cited player safety as the driving force behind the proposal.
Freeze, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin and Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez, all hurry-up, no-huddle innovators, were among the rule’s biggest critics, pointing to the lack of evidence and data showing that offenses operating at a faster pace result in more injuries. Causing even more of a rift was the fact that 2014 is a non-change year for NCAA rules, though exceptions can be made to those concerning player safety given sufficient evidence, which created suspicion among those who opposed the rule that coaches such as Calhoun, Bielema and Saban — all of whose teams ranked in the bottom third nationally in total plays run last season — were pushing their own agenda.
“I’ve said all along I have respect for both sides as far as individuals and what people’s opinions are,” Freeze said. “I disagree with the other side. The right thing to do is what they did, table it and if that’s really important to get it changed to people, let’s have some great dialogue that involves the entire membership.”
Those kind of discussions could pop up in the future. The rule can be revisited at a later date, but it seems as though there will have to be statistical data drawing a direct correlation between fast-paced offenses and an increase in injuries for the rule to ever be passed. Ole Miss’ offense, which ran 1,018 total plays in 13 games last season, will continue to push the pace until then.
“I don’t see myself changing my view, and I’m sure (the coaches in favor of the rule) are not going to change theirs. We can respect that,” Freeze said. “I think the right thing was done because we didn’t get to vet it out. A decision that’s going to change our game deserves that much attention and everybody’s input. Now we’ll have time to do that if it’s going to come back up again.”
(March 5, 2014)