User ID
Password
  Forgot User ID
or Register Today!
VegasInsider.com
Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us on Google+ VI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds
Home
NFL
NBA
NHL
MLB
NCAA FB
NCAA BK
Golf
Auto
Soccer
Horses
More
Betting Tools

 
Maybe defenses do need a break

New Sportsbook.ag customers: Make your 1st bet, get your 2nd bet free, 100%, winnings paid in cash.
Join Now

Already have an account? Click here to view new Exclusive Rewards!

Maybe the most refreshing take about a proposed rule change that would tap the brakes on college football's pedal-to-the-metal offenses came from Temple coach Matt Rhule.

Advertisement
''I'm selfishly for it,'' Rhule said.

Rhule shares some of the safety concerns held by Arkansas' Bret Bielema and Alabama's Nick Saban about how hurry-up offenses increase the number of plays per game and don't allow defenses to substitute for fatigued players. Rhule said it's better to be out in front of a potentially dangerous situation than too late.

Citing player safety, the NCAA football rules committee passed a proposal two weeks ago to prohibit teams from snapping the ball until at least 10 seconds had run off the 40-second clock, with the exception of the final two minutes of each half.

Ultimately, Rhule supports the proposal because he believes it helps his team, which does not push the pace offensively the way programs such as Oregon, Auburn and Texas Tech do. He said the introduction of the 40-second clock in 2008 and the rise of up-tempo offenses have fundamentally changed college football and created an advantage defenses can't combat.

''Shouldn't both sides be able to decide if they want to make substitutions?'' he asked.

Instead of turning the debate over pace of play in college football into a player-safety melodrama based on hypothetical worst-case scenarios, maybe it's time to have an honest discussion about whether cutting defenses some slack is good for the game.

Rhule was one of the 25 FBS coaches, out of 128 total surveyed by ESPN, who said they were in favor of the proposal, which still must be approved by the NCAA playing rules oversight panel that meets March 6. According to the survey released Wednesday, 93 FBS coaches (73 percent) are opposed to the proposal, nine are undecided and one coach declined to participate.

Whether you agree with Rhule or not, there is some validity to his argument.

Points per game (27 to 29.5), yards per game (371.6 to 412.5) and yards per play (5.48 to 5.75) have been steadily rising since the 40-second clock was introduced in '08. Before then, officials would take 12 to 15 seconds to spot the ball and declare it ready for play, allowing time for both teams to sub before the 25-second play clock started.

Coaches complained that from crew to crew and conference to conference, officials were inconsistent about the time it was taking to spot the ball. The 40-second clock solved that problem, with an unintended consequence.

''The pace of the game was now being turned over to the offense,'' NCAA coordinator of officials Rogers Redding said. ''I don't think anybody anticipated at the time that would lead to the great proliferation of up-tempo and no-huddle offenses like we see today.''

But that's not the reason for the proposal. This is a non-change year for NCAA rules, so alterations to the rule book can be made only to address a safety issue. However, there is no data showing hurry-up offenses put players at risk.

Bielema explained his stance to reporters last week, and it didn't seem to win over any of the dissenters. Instead, he drew the ire of the University of California by referencing Golden Bears player Ted Agu, who died after collapsing during a conditioning run Feb. 7, as evidence to support the proposal.

Bielema said he's concerned about athletes with the sickle cell trait, a genetic condition that can alter red blood cells during strenuous exercise and cause muscles to break down. Bielema said they could be put in grave danger by no-huddle offenses that don't allow defenses to freely substitute.

There is no reason to doubt Bielema's sincerity, but when football coaches play doctor, things get messy.

''Using that as an argument lacks any real medical or scientific support,'' said Dr. Andrew Gregory, associate professor of orthopedics and pediatrics at Vanderbilt University.

Gregory said the cases of sickle cell-related deaths in college football have been caused by what he called ''heroic training,'' during which players push themselves past their limits.

''But those issues surround training and not the game,'' he said. ''You don't see muscle breakdown during the game because you're probably not playing enough to get in trouble.''

At this point it will be surprising if the pace-of-play proposal is passed. The rules committee could even decide to withdraw the proposal before it gets to the playing rules oversight panel.

The pace-of-play issue isn't going away, but maybe the debate can become more about data than drama.

----

Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2015
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

  
HEADLINES
News: 2015 Heisman Odds
News: 2015 Conference Future Odds
Chryst jokes about players and degrees
Richt promises open QB competition
McKinney, Smith workout during pro day
2nd alcohol arrest for Spartans' Kings
Clemson D doesn't want to surrender
Harbaugh aids traffic crash victims
BYU brings back former QB for spring
MORE HEADLINES
 
Why Buy Picks From VegasInsider.com
NCAAFB College Football Handicapper Sports Picks Records
VegasInsider.com Gold Membership
2014 CFB SEASON PICK RECORDS
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Michael Black + 2299
Dave Cokin + 2207
Kevin Rogers + 1254
Last Week's Leaders
Handicapper Money
Brian Edwards + 303
ASA + 300
Jimmy Boyd + 290
Percentage Leaders
Handicapper Pct
Dave Cokin 61 %
Michael Black 57 %
Stephen Nover 57 %
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Chip Chirimbes + 1235
Jimmy Boyd + 765
Michael Black + 440
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
Kyle Hunter + 1498
Stephen Nover + 1332
Tony Stoffo + 1087
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Dave Cokin + 1895
Kevin Rogers + 1135
Kyle Hunter + 405
MORE PICK RECORDS
  
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 10% off a Live Odds subscription, SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!
VI Daily Fantasy Sager Bomb