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Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez and other coaches speak out against defensive substitution rule proposal

Sam Cooper
Dr. Saturday

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Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez (USA Today Sports)

The NCAA Football Rules Committee offered two proposed rule changes on Wednesday. One rule – the elimination of a 15-yard penalty on an overturned targeting penalty – was met with a favorable reaction.

The other rule, which would allow defenses ten seconds to make substitutions and penalize offenses for snapping the ball before the play clock hit 29 seconds, was not so warmly received. The rule, which was proposed with player safety in mind, would impact the tempo of no-huddle offenses, and several coaches have already spoken out against it.

Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez took to Twitter to voice his displeasure.

Rules committee chair and Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun said Wednesday that the goal behind the substitution rule was to “enhance student-athlete safety by guaranteeing a small window for both teams to substitute,” but Mississippi head coach Huge Freeze is unsure that up-tempo offenses create an increased health risk for defensive players.

“Where is the documented medial evidence that proves that tempo offense puts players at more risk?” Freeze said to CBS’ Bruce Feldman.

Louisiana-Monroe coach Todd Berry, another committee member, told Feldman that there are some studies and data and that the committee “tried to balance the safety issue and making sure you can play the game fast.”

Other coaches, some who don’t even run up-tempo systems, are frustrated that the proposal seemingly came out of nowhere.

“I just spent two days at Big Ten meetings and it wasn't even brought up,” Rutgers coach Kyle Flood said. “It doesn't make sense to me.”

Cincinnati head coach Tommy Tuberville, a long-time defensive coordinator, said that the proposal “came out of left field” and that “it’s wrong.”

With this negative response to the proposal, it obviously still remains to be seen whether the rule will be approved. The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel will vote on March 6.

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