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NCAA rules committee member says there’s ‘not really much hard data’ supporting defensive subs proposal

Nick Bromberg
Dr. Saturday

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Both Alabama and Arkansas are near the bottom in plays per game. (USA Today Sports Images)

Proponents of the college football rule proposal to give defenses 10 seconds before each play to substitute players have said that the change has player safety in mind.

However, an NCAA rules committee member says that there's "not really much hard data" supporting the player safety angle.

"I think it's fair to say it's one of those things that's been growing," committee member Rogers Redding told CBS Sports, "It hasn't been a huge surge. It's kind of one those things that was floating in the background and it kind of came to a head. ...

"I think it's fair to say there's not really much hard data on this."

In addition to defenses getting 10 seconds to sub, offenses would be prohibited from snapping the ball with more than 29 seconds remaining on the play clock. That means the play clock would have to run at least 11 seconds before a play, lest the offense risk a penalty.

One of the main proponents of the change is Arkansas coach Bret Bielema. He's pitched similar ideas before, and Bielema was in attendance at the NCAA rules committee meetings this week in Indianapolis.

Bielema doesn't have voting privileges on the rules committee, though SI.com reported that both Bielema and Alabama coach Nick Saban were in attendance during the discussion about the rule change. Saban has also been critical of uptempo offenses in the past and has used the "player safety" angle before.

In case you were wondering, last season Arkansas was 121st out of 125 FBS teams in plays per game and Alabama was 116th. Louisiana-Monroe coach Todd Berry and Air Force's Troy Calhoun are the two coaches with voting privileges on the committee. LMU was 53rd in PPG while Air Force was 104th.

Already, coaches like Arizona's Rich Rodriguez have spoken out against the possible rule change. Ole Miss's Hugh Freeze has also asked for the data supporting the player-safety angle. Though given Redding's comments, it may not exist.

The offensive explosion in college football can be attributed to increased tempo, and when you add in player fatigue, it is much tougher to defend. While those supporting the rule changes may feel that they have the best interests of tired defenders in mind, we must not forget that there's strategical impact at the root of the discussion too. Every extra second to scheme and substitute for a defense is an advantage.

This is a discussion that's only going to increase from now until March 6, when the NCAA's Playing Rules Oversight Panel rules on the issue. As it does escalate, you'll see that coach opinions will likely correlate to where his team is on the plays-per-game list.

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Nick Bromberg is the assistant editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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