NCAA wants to slow the "Tempo"

NCAA wants to slow the "Tempo"
February 14, 2014, 12:30 pm
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The NCAA rules committee is proposing a rules change that would get fast tempo teams a penalty for delay of the game. It still has to be approved on March 6th but the committee is pushing for a change that would allow the defenses to substitute without the offense being able to snap the ball. Defensive teams would have 10 seconds to change personnel freely before the play clock hits 29. If the offense snaps the ball before the clock hits 29 they will get a five yard “delay of the game” penalty. The best part about this for defensive teams is that they can also substitute again after 25 seconds should the offense want to substitute, which is the rule we have had in place the last few years. The rule has been put in place to further enhance player safety, although no studies have been shown to back up the point. 

I talked to several fast tempo coaches and they were just floored by this proposal. One coach told me that certain “big name” coaches are having too much influence on the committee and college football.  Most tempo coaches don't snap the ball in 10 seconds anyway and the committee did cite this as part of their research. If that is true then why have a rule? Is the rule just there to just to have one? Auburn is a fast tempo team; however they usually time their tempo up to big plays. For example the Tigers will open a series in normal pace, but once they rip off a 10+ yard run for a first down, they go up tempo to catch the defense in a fatigued mode. Believe me it’s not how much tempo you run as how effectively and when you run it.  I also talked to a tempo coach in the ACC who estimated that his team snaps the ball within 10 seconds 15-20 times a game. They practice fast and pride themselves on conditioning and feel that is their best advantage. I believe Rich Rodriguez of Arizona said it best when he said the idea of football was “the offense knows where it's going before the snap and the defense is allowed to move wherever it wants before the snap”. 

I also think this rule could be the direct correlation of the NCAA looking to protect itself from future lawsuits by players. I mean think about it, the players want to form a union and change the way the NCAA governs football and its safety. This could be a check on the side of the NCAA versus any potential lawsuits by a union on behalf of player safety. You could actually say the NCAA is being “pro active” if you want, but I would prefer to use the word “overreaction”.  The NCAA did get one rule change right with regards to targeting. There will not be a penalty assessed if the review shows the player did not target the opponent. Wow, if they would have blown that one you might have seen a nationwide mutiny. Congratulations NCAA you fixed a rule that you implemented without fully examining and were lucky it didn't really cost you a game last season.  Georgia would likely disagree in their game with Vanderbilt. 

This and that... 

-          The top ten teams in total number of plays run in 2012 averaged 8.8 wins per team. This is also with California factored in who finished 1-11 despite running the 10th most plays of any team in college football. Five teams won at least 10 games of the top ten and Baylor went to a BCS game while Arizona State played for the Pac 12 title. Both Northern Illinois and Fresno State were factors as “BCS Busters” until late season losses. 

-          The top five play totals among BCS teams are 

  • 1. Texas Tech
  • 2. Arizona State
  • 3. Baylor
  • 4. California and Missouri 

One conference champion and two teams that played for a title in their respective leagues; three of the four teams are Mike Leach disciples with Kliff Kingsbury at Tech, Art Briles at Baylor and Sonny Dykes with California. 

-          Oregon averaged 74 plays per game while Auburn and Texas A&M were near 73 plays per game. On the other hand those who have spoken out publicly against fast play Nick Saban and Bret Bielema averaged nearly 10 plays less per game. Alabama averaged 63 plays per game and Arkansas 64. Five of the top ten yards per play teams were tempo type teams including these three offenses. FSU led the country in yards per play but they were just better than everyone they played and averaged only 67 plays per game on offense.

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