Arkansas football coach Bret Bielema stooped to using the recent death of Cal player Ted Agu to advance his agenda of passing a controversial rule proposal to slow down college offenses.
Challenged to provide data that shows the rule should be implemented for health and safety reasons, Bielema, according to the Associated Press, said, “Death certificates. There’s no more anything I need than that.”
Speaking to reporters Thursday before a booster club meeting in Searcy, Ark., Bielema offered Agu’s death on Feb. 7 following a team training run as an argument to implement the rule proposal, which would prohibit snapping the ball until at least 10 seconds run off the 40-second play clock.
He made reference to a CBSSports.com report that said Agu had tested positive for the sickle cell trait. An autopsy is being performed to determine cause of death.
Bielema said the inability to substitute an injured player between plays could lead to injury or death.
Here’s a transcription, courtesy of the AP reporter, of Bielema’s remarks on the topic:
“There was a situation in college football two, almost three weeks ago. A player from California died after a workout, and the player had sickle cell trait. I have a half a dozen players on my team currently that have that trait.”
“Lots of talk about training medical people … How players don’t even know what’s beginning to happen, difficulty breathing … Look for signs.
“We’re very wired into it, because it’s something that’s been pretty prevalent over the last couple of years.
“If a player begins to do that, you’re obviously supposed to cease immediately; you don’t do anything. So, if you’ve got them in a workout, you pull them aside. The player at California, they were actually talking to him, he walked off the field, began to communicate with him and several minutes later, he was dead.
“We have players in that same situation. If we have players on the field for me, I have no timeouts, I have no way to stop the game. And he raises his hand to come out of the game? And I can’t do it? What am I supposed to do? That’s what we have. What are we supposed to do when we have a player that tells us he’s injured?
“If we want to get to the point where we’re flopping on the ground, like somebody did against us this year, then that’s what you’re going to force people to do.
“But if a kid wants to come out of the game because he can’t go any further, they’ve given us no other choice. That’s the whole agenda item.”
Cal coach Sonny Dykes could not immediately be reached for comment.
An NCAA playing rules oversight panel will vote March 6 on the proposal.
Agu, 21, will be buried Friday in his hometown of Bakersfield.