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Report: Only 25 of 128 FBS coaches favor defensive substitution rule proposal

Sam Cooper
Dr. Saturday
NCAA Football: Texas Tech vs Baylor
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Nov 16, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Baylor Bears quarterback Bryce Petty (14) scrambles with the ball during the game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at AT&T Stadium. Baylor beat Texas Tech 63-34. (Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

The NCAA Rules Committee’s proposed rule that would penalize teams for snapping the ball prior to the 29-second mark of the play clock has been a source of contention among coaches and fans since the proposal was announced two weeks ago.

On Wednesday, ESPN reporter Brett McMurphy released the results of a survey conducted by ESPN that revealed that only 25 of the nation’s 128 FBS head coaches, who were asked how they'd vote based on the vote being confidential, are in favor of the new rule proposal.

Notably, of the 25 in favor, McMurphy reports that only 11 of the coaches in favor are from a “Power 5 Conference” school in either the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 or SEC, plus Notre Dame. In total, of the 128 coaches surveyed, 93 coaches (73 percent) are against the rule, 25 coaches (19.5 percent) are in favor and nine coaches (seven percent) are undecided. One coach refused to participate and said that he “did not wish to be part of the conversation on this topic.”

The rule was said to have been proposed with player safety in mind but would, in turn, impact the tempo of no-huddle, fast-paced offenses. Several coaches, including Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin, Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez, and Auburn’s Guz Malzahn, have all publicly spoken out against the rule in recent weeks.

74 percent (48 coaches) of coaches from the 65 “Power 5 Conference” schools were against the rule, 17 percent (11 coaches) were for the proposed rule and nine percent (six coaches) were undecided or didn’t vote. Results were similar for “non-power” schools. 71 percent (45 coaches) would vote no, 22 percent (14 coaches) would vote yes and six percent (four coaches) were undecided.

According to McMurphy, not one conference had “more than one-third of its teams” favor the rule, but none of the 10 conferences unanimously opposed it.

Alabama coach Nick Saban and Arkansas coach Bret Bielema have been the most notable coaches to publicly back the proposed rule. Bielema went so far as to say that the inability for defenses to make substitutions could lead to injury or even death while controversially referencing the death of Cal player Ted Agu, who collapsed and died during a conditioning workout earlier this month.

The 11-person NCAA playing rules oversight panel, which contains no coaches, will vote on the proposal on March 6 and only a majority vote is needed for the rule to be put into place for the 2014 season.

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