We have reached the nadir in the college football offensive tempo debate.
It may be hard to believe after some of the things that have been said so far surrounding the 10-second defensive substitution proposal that's set to be voted on Thursday by the NCAA Rules Oversight Panel, but Alabama coach Nick Saban just proved that we've run out of rational things to say in this discussion.
"The fastball guys (up-tempo coaches) say there's no data out there, and I guess you have to use some logic. What's the logic? If you smoke one cigarette, do you have the same chances of getting cancer if you smoke 20? I guess there's no study that specifically says that. But logically, we would say, 'Yeah, there probably is.'"
We'll let you dissect the statement yourself, because there's about 50 directions you can go with it. And they all probably involve a grease-slicked gradient.
Last week, Saban said that he didn't want coaches making the decision when it came to the 10-second proposal, which would prevent teams from snapping the ball with more than 29 seconds on the play clock and allow defensive teams to substitute in the first 10 seconds before every play. That's probably because he was aware of the "structured nationwide attack" that other SEC coaches were putting together to rally opposition to the rule.
Along with Arkansas coach Bret Bielema, Saban has been cited as a proponent of the rule proposal, which invokes "player safety" despite no evidence in favor of the angle. Is it possible that more plays lead to more injuries? Yes. But there's nothing proving or disproving it.
"Our game's getting to where it's not about blocking and tackling," Saban told ESPN. "It's about how fast can we go so they can't get lined up. Is that what we want the game to be?
"But let's not forget the issue here. The issue I'm arguing for is the increased number of exposures, the player safety issue. I don't see how logically it can't be, but we should at least do a study to find out. I guess the question is: How do we manage it in the meantime? Do we let them keep going, or do we slow them down?"
Slowing teams down would imply that uptempo offenses are inherently bad. With a lack of evidence in either direction, it's a rash judgment to make. And why this debate needs to be tabled until we can discuss the matter again in a couple of years with some comprehensive data to look at. Discussing hypotheticals has made the most successful college football coach in recent history start talking about cigarettes. That accomplishes nothing.
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