NCAA committee drops much-debated no-huddle offense rule proposal

Kevin C. Cox

The rule would have especially penalized run-first, no-huddle teams like Oregon and Auburn.

The NCAA has pulled a proverbial "down low, too slow" on Nick Saban, Bret Bielema and the other college coaches who were in favor of a rules proposal that would have limited no-huddle offenses. The Rules Committee withdrew the rule proposal Wednesday after weeks of controversy surrounding the potential change.

If implemented, the rule would have enforced a 10-second delay before teams could snap the ball, with a penalty resulting from teams snapping the ball too early. This would have favored slower, power-run teams like Bielema's Arkansas Razorbacks, who invoked a player's death when discussing his support for the rule, or Saban's Alabama Crimson Tide, who compared hurry-up offense proponents to cigarette companies.

At no point were Bielema, Saban or anyone else able to show that there was an actual player safety issue at hand with hurry-up offenses. The rule, which coincidentally would have created a tangible competitive advantage for their teams, has now been withdrawn, giving Saban one of his only losses since leaving the NFL (but Bielema can surely console him on how to deal with losing.)

Our own Patrick Vint took a look at five high-profile games from the 2013 season that would have been impacted by the rule, and found the rule would have done damage to run-first, no-huddle offenses like Auburn and Oregon. Coaches who run such offenses were angered by the proposed rule.

The other rule proposed to the committee -- adjusting the targeting rule so that overturned replay calls would also overturn the original penalty -- has been pushed forward. Bielema, Saban, et al. will likely attempt to push the rule change again next year, as rule change proposals in odd-numbered years are not required to have a player safety component.

Fans of fast football, rejoice!

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