By John Zenor
AP Sports Writer
AUBURN, Ala. – Auburn coach Gus Malzahn wants to slow down consideration of a rule taking aim at uptempo offenses.
Malzahn said Tuesday that he has spoken “numerous times” over the previous five days with the chairman of the committee that passed a proposal designed to rein in offenses like the Tigers’ hurry-up, no-huddle attack.
He has asked Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, the committee chair, to push consideration of the rule until next year.
“This is not a rule change year,” Malzahn said. “For a rule to be changed, it has to be under the umbrella of health and safety. There’s absolutely zero documented evidence that it is hazardous to (speed up) the pace of play, only opinions.
“What I asked him to do is move this to next year, when it is a rule change year where we can hear both sides and have a healthy debate on moving forward with the rule.”
The playing rules oversight panel, which meets March 6, must approve the proposal.
The rule, if it’s passed, would give defenses time to substitute by penalizing offenses for snapping the ball before the 40-second play clock has ticked down to 29.
Southeastern Conference coaches Bret Bielema of Arkansas and Nick Saban of Alabama voiced their concerns before the Calhoun-led panel about the effect of the fast-paced offenses on player safety.
Malzahn said he was caught off guard when he learned about the proposed change last week. He has spoken with other coaches who have voiced their opposition but not to Saban or Bielema.
Freeze among opponents
The vocal opponents have included Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze, Texas Tech’s Kliff Kingsbury, Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin and Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez – all run fast-paced offenses. Malzahn said he has also contacted the SEC office, which told him to follow the proper channels.
“I’m just going to do everything in my power, the right way, to stand up,” Malzahn said.
The SEC’s top three offenses last season – Texas A&M, Auburn and Missouri – run no-huddle attacks. Ole Miss’ 78.3 plays per game led the league, but all three averaged at least 72.
Malzahn’s offense has helped the Tigers play for the national championship twice, including a loss to Florida State in January.
He doesn’t believe fast offenses lead to more injuries.
“I’ve been running a fast-paced offense since 1997, and I’ve never felt like on either side that it was a health and safety issue on offense or even on the other side,” Malzahn said.
He declined to say how often he runs plays within 10 seconds, but said the rule would have a big impact.
“It’s just a complete rule change,” Malzahn said. “It changes the dynamics of traditional football in a lot more ways than anyone would think. Not just if you get behind by a couple touchdowns and it’s late in the game, you couldn’t properly come back. But the way you coach your quarterbacks. Because it wouldn’t just be 10 seconds.
“You got a 5-yard penalty, so it would probably be more of the four or five seconds into that. And it would just change the dynamics of football.”