Raise your hand if you’re in favor of safety for college football players. Hands just shot up all over. I saw them.
Everyone is in favor of safety and should be. Everyone is not in favor of tempo offense, though, and it became quite the discussion last week when the NCAA rules committee proposed that offenses not be able to snap the football until 29 seconds remained on the 40-second play clock.
That would drastically alter offense for teams – Ole Miss and many others – that employ the up-tempo approach. Make no mistake, it was birthed as a means to compete against teams with more talent – to neutralize them to some degree, Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze says.
Alabama coach Nick Saban has been at the forefront of this discussion and made a presentation to the committee last week.
California offensive coordinator Tony Franklin says his up-tempo offense snaps the ball only five or six plays a game with more than 29 seconds on the play clock. Others have said the same thing.
One big play within those five or six plays could have changed outcomes for Ole Miss against Texas A&M, Auburn or Mississippi State.
The intent is to create fatigue within the defense or possibly catch players out of position.
Opponents say the tempo offense puts the safety of the defensive players at risk even though offensive players are playing at the same pace.
Safety is a buzz word that when spoken causes everyone to stand at attention. That’s OK. It should remain a priority for the keepers of the game.
But how hard is the rules committee working to improve safety without imposing roadblocks on the style of certain teams? The only thing mentioned in its report last week was the tempo offense.
Why not take away the game’s most dangerous play, the kickoff? If you do that you not only remove the potential for violent collisions, but you remove in some cases twice the number of plays than if one tempo-offense team gets off an additional five to six snaps within the 60 minutes.
Speaking of those collisions.
If you’re going to seriously alter the chance for one side of the ball to compete, how about speed and weight limits for the defense?
Tell the outside linebackers and defensive ends they must delay their arrival times. They bring the impact that makes the collisions so dangerous.
That’s a ludicrous suggestion by the way, but no more ludicrous than an effort to change the rules to so benefit one approach over another.
If the number of plays are too many, why not go back to an 11-game regular season? That would save many more than five or six plays, and no one would put money-making ahead of safety, right?
You could probably find data to prove the types and numbers of injuries that occur by playing an extra game.
By the way, data showing the injuries that occur when a team is playing defense against a tempo offense has yet to be presented.
Some teams have found the way that they can best compete with the schools that consistently land the biggest and fastest – the most talented – recruiting classes. They found a way to compete completely within the rules, and now the rules may change.
Hiding behind the sanctity of safety is an insult to the discussion.
Parrish Alford (firstname.lastname@example.org) covers Ole Miss for the Daily Journal. He blogs daily at InsideOleMissSports.com.