Former Wisconsin Badgers linebacker Chris Borland surprised the NFL by announcing his retirement on Monday, after just one season with the San Francisco 49ers. Borland was recruited to Madison by then-Badgers head coach Bret Bielema, who took Monday's news as an opportunity to rant against hurry-up, no-huddle offenses.
"We have an obligation to do what's right," Bielema told Sporting News' Matt Hayes. "I can't understand how some guys can't see that."
Once again raising safety concerns, Bielema -- now running the program at Arkansas -- mentioned a study "that said players in the no-huddle, hurry-up offense play the equivalent of five more games than those that don't." Known for his offensive system that uses jumbo sets and slow pace, Bielema first suggested an NCAA rule that would slow down offenses in 2013. Alabama head coach Nick Saban was on board back then, but considering how the Crimson Tide offense sped up in 2014, it's unclear if Saban would still support the rule.
"Not to get on the coattails of some of the other coaches, there is a lot of truth that the way offensive philosophies are driven now, there's times where you can't get a defensive substitution in for 8-, 10-, 12-play drives," Bielema told AL.com at the time. "That has an effect on safety of that student-athlete, especially the bigger defensive linemen, that is really real."
The NCAA eventually declined the rule change.
Borland cited longterm health concerns as reason for his sudden retirement. "I just honestly want to do what's best for my health," he told ESPN's Outside The Lines. "From what I've researched and what I've experienced, I don't think it's worth the risk."