The NCAA Football Rules Committee, at two-day meetings that ended Wednesday in Indianapolis, have proposed a change that will prevent offenses from snapping the ball earlier than with 29 remaining on the play clock in order to give defenses the change to make substitutions.
The proposal, which still must be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel next month, shouldn’t inhibit teams that play fast-paced football, the committee said. If approved, the new rule will go into effect next season.
Cal coach Sonny Dykes joined the conversation Thursday, tweeting, “New rule slowing down college football at its height of popularity isn’t about player safety, it’s about a who runs college football.”
Bears offensive coordinator Tony Franklin had heard rumblings about a possible change during the season and wasn’t surprised by the news.
But he thinks it’s a reactionary move by coaches who prefer traditional, defense-oriented football and he isn’t worried it will slow down his offense.
He’s also not buying the committee’s rationale that safety is the reason for the change.
“People for a long time have kind of had their way defensively who don’t anymore. They’re trying to get something back,” he said.
“If it was truly a safety issue, what they should do is not let defenses hide their blitzes until the last second or send someone off the edge to hit a quarterback in the back. That’s the advantage the defense has, to do all those things at the last second.”
Franklin said he’s unaware of any data showing that uptempo football is resulting in more injuries. “I’ve never seen anything ever, except the opinions of defensive coaches,” he said.
The Bears averaged 88 offensive snaps per game last season, and Franklin guessed that perhaps four or five of those each game came before the play clock reached 29 seconds. So he’s not worried this will change what the Bears are trying to do.
“I don’t see it playing a huge role,” he said. “It’s just a pacifying thing of some nature. I don’t think it will have much impact.”
The change would allow defenses to make substitutions within the first 10 seconds of the 40-second play clock, with the exception being the final 2 minutes of each half.
Under this rule proposal, the offense will not be allowed to snap the ball until the play clock reaches 29 seconds or less. If the offense snaps the ball before the play clock reaches 29 seconds, a 5-yard, delay-of-game penalty will be assessed.
Under current rules, defensive players are not guaranteed an opportunity to substitute unless the offense substitutes first. This part of the rule will remain in place in scenarios where the play clock starts at 25 seconds.
“This rules change is being made to enhance student-athlete safety by guaranteeing a small window for both teams to substitute,” said Troy Calhoun, coach at Air Force and chair of the rules committee.
“As the average number of plays per game has increased, this issue has been discussed with greater frequency by the committee in recent years and we felt like it was time to act in the interests of protecting our student-athletes.”
The committee also proposed a change to the use of instant replay on targeting penalties. Click here for the entire NCAA news release.