The NCAA Rules Committee has withdrawn the so-called ‘Saban Rule,’ a proposed rule change that would have had the effect of slowing down some no-huddle offenses.
USA Today reports that the committee chose not to move the proposal forward. The Playing Rules Oversight Panel would have heard the proposal on Thursday.
The rule change would have required a 10-second delay before offenses could snap the ball, allowing defenses time to make substitutions based on the offensive alignment.
The proposed rule change drew the ire of coaches and fans alike, especially those whose teams run a form of the hurry-up offense like the Auburn Tigers and Texas A&M Aggies.
“This is a victory for common sense and protecting the game of football,” Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin told USA Today Sports, who spoke with someone with knowledge of the meeting.
Criticism of the proposal reached new heights when it was learned that Alabama head coach Nick Saban had addressed the comitttee as the rule was being considered.
NCAA rules can only be changed every other year unless the rule change is for reasons of player safety. Saban has been a proponent of a change in the rules, and has used the angle that it would protect fatigued players from injury.
Some critics said the safety issue was merely a pretext to making a rule change that favored teams like Alabama that have a complex defensive scheme predicated on subsitutions.
Saban told ESPN:
“The fastball guys (up-tempo coaches) say there’s no data out there, and I guess you have to use some logic. What’s the logic? If you smoke one cigarette, do you have the same chances of getting cancer if you smoke 20? I guess there’s no study that specifically says that. But logically, we would say, ‘Yeah, there probably is.’”
With the proposal dead, Saban-haters will get to crow a bit, and will say that Saban now has to adjust using players and schemes instead of a rules change. For his part, Saban has already been adapting to the new reality, recruiting more athletic defensive backs and linebackers, and hoping to find a better pass rush.
Rule or no rule, more teams will employ a hurry-up attack until teams like Alabama find a way to negate it on the field. If anyone can do that, smart money is on Saban.