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Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin joins chorus against proposed defensive substitution rule

Graham Watson
Dr. Saturday

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Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin doesn’t know if a proposed rule that would essentially prohibit up-tempo offenses from being up-tempo would pass, but he does know he’s not in favor of it.

Sumlin is one of a growing number of coaches who are beginning to speak out against a rule that would force offenses to wait 10 seconds before snapping the ball to allow for defensive substitutions.

“What if you couldn’t fast break anymore or full-court press?” Sumlin told Yahoo Sports. “We’re gonna go back to the defense meeting them at half court? We can’t cross the half-court line until the defense gets back? I mean, that’s what we’re talking about here.”

The rule proposal is linked to Alabama coach Nick Saban and Arkansas coach Bret Bielema, who insist they want the rule for player safety and not because their teams aren’t built to keep up with offenses that can run more than 100 plays a game.

But Sumlin, whose Aggies run an up-tempo style, said he was kind of blindsided by the proposal considering it wasn’t discussed at the AFCA head coaches meeting in January.

Saban and Bielema were the only coaches in the meeting with the rules committee last week when the proposal was discussed. None of the other coaches knew it was happening.

“Everybody says, everyone should have known they could have come to that, it’s an open forum, but no one got a phone call,” Sumlin said.

But Sumlin isn’t alone in thinking Saban and Bielema were trying to pull a fast one while other coaches weren’t looking. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, who coaches a team that doesn’t run an up-tempo offense, told USA Today that he’s already called Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, the chairman of the rules committee, to say he’s voting against the rule. Spurrier thinks there won’t be enough support for the rule to pass on March 6.

“[Saban] took it upon himself to go before the rules committee and get it done," Spurrier said. "They tried to change the rules. But I don't think they're gonna get away with it.

"To me, that's part of football. The 'no-huddle' has always been available. I don't see why we'd take it away right now."

Sumlin agrees. He said the up-tempo offenses are part of the game and the game is at its highest popularity right now. Still, he’d be open to discussions about rule changes that aid player safety as long as they were actual discussions.

“There needs to be discussions on both sides,” Sumlin said. “It would have been nice to have a heads up on how that was going to happen because at the head coaches meeting at the AFCA there was nothing discussed about it. I think there needs to be an open discussion. There’s obviously people on both sides that want to talk about it.

“But the bottom line is everybody plays within the rules.”

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Graham Watson is the editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at dr.saturday@ymail.com or follow her on Twitter!

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