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Saban on no-huddle offense: ‘Is this what we want football to be?’

Nick Saban AP

Missouri defensive end Sheldon Richardson pointed out the wrong team when he said Georgia played “old man football.”

Or, maybe just the wrong head coach.

Alabama coach Nick Saban said on his Wednesday teleconference that he isn’t a fan of speed — as in up-tempo offenses — because of the risk it puts on player safety. Here’s a portion of what Saban had to say:

“I think that the way people are going no-huddle right now, that at some point in time, we should look at how fast we allow the game to go in terms of player safety. The team gets in the same formation group, you can’t substitute defensive players, you go on a 14-, 16-, 18-play drive and they’re snapping the ball as fast as you can go and you look out there and all your players are walking around and can’t even get lined up. That’s when guys have a much greater chance of getting hurt when they’re not ready to play.

“I think that’s something that can be looked at. It’s obviously created a tremendous advantage for the offense when teams are scoring 70 points and we’re averaging 49.5 points a game. With people that do those kinds of things. More and more people are going to do it.

“I just think there’s got to be some sense of fairness in terms of asking is this what we want football to be?”

In other words, get off Saban’s lawn, Dana Holgorsen.

As a defensive-minded coach, Saban understandably takes issue with something that favors the offensive side of the ball; much of what is and isn’t allowed in football does. In this situation, it’s the defense that has to adapt personnel-wise to the style of offense the opponent is running.

But you can also say that it doesn’t matter what tempo the offense uses in getting to the line of scrimmage if someone gets their clocked cleaned or tears an ACL. The game itself is faster. Players are bigger, faster and hit harder. Secondly, trends ebb and flow, but winning football games can always come down to a pair of basic principles: having the right personnel and execution. A no-huddle offense is just like any other offense in that it isn’t effective if it goes three-and-out more often than not.

And it’s not like Saban’s struggling for talent, either.

That’s just one hack’s opinion, though. Thoughts on Saban’s remarks?

(Quotes courtesy of 

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61 Responses to “Saban on no-huddle offense: ‘Is this what we want football to be?’”
  1. mhalt99 says: Oct 3, 2012 4:21 PM

    is it more or less dangerous to play against a no huddle type offense vs say….:

    Alabama vs the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers
    Alabama vs the Florida Atlantic Owls
    Alabama vs the Western Carolina Catamounts?

  2. idolized1 says: Oct 3, 2012 4:21 PM

    Maybe it’s just me, and maybe I’m just old fashioned, but I love a good game of ground-and-pound, big fullback leading-the-way, run right at you football.

    All of these no huddle, spread/air raid offenses are no doubt exciting as they put big numbers up on the board, but I don’t like how the RB position is just a glorified receiver spot and how it takes some LB’s off the field in favor of smaller DB’s.

    I’m all for what wins games, but seeing a team grind it out on the ground in a Power I formation is what’s great about football.

  3. Deb says: Oct 3, 2012 4:35 PM

    As a defensive fan, I don’t like it and the injury issue does concern me. But when my offense is on the field, you bet I want them to run the no-huddle because it’s effective. Football is a strategic game, and the no-huddle is a strategy. Whether we like it or not, teams are going to employ it. And coaches like Saban will have to find ways to counter it. That’s how they earn their paychecks.

  4. WingT says: Oct 3, 2012 4:38 PM

    With all do respect Coach Saban there are many other areas of football that are equally dangerous such as blitzes or putting in a 310lb DL as a fullback on goal line plays or even sending a 180lb receiver across the middle for a 5 yard pass that allows a 250lb to unload on him.

    Also, if your defensive mammoths are not able to get set before the play starts then feel free to call a timeout – you have 3 of them available each half.

    All of this coming from a die-hard Bama fan of over 50 years

    Roll Tide

  5. goodfieldnohit says: Oct 3, 2012 4:41 PM

    I agree with everything WingT just said.

  6. drummerhoff says: Oct 3, 2012 4:41 PM

    First, show me evidence that more injuries occur to defensive players playing against the no-huddle. Saban, like most people in a position to wield power, is a politician: He doesn’t like coaching against the no-huddle so he is lobbying/creating a myth to legislate rules against it.

    Second, if you’re worried about player safety due to the up-tempo, make sure your players are in better shape, Coach.

  7. floridacock says: Oct 3, 2012 5:22 PM

    He has a point, just like replacement refs in the NFL were dangerous to players health. The no huddle has been around for years and as history has shown, Alabama has no problem beating the tar out of teams that play it.

  8. MasMacho says: Oct 3, 2012 5:46 PM

    Well, that’s just like, your opinion, MAN.

    What I want football “to be” is about winning, not gentleman’s agreements and unwritten rules. No huddle offenses are clearly within the rules, and offer teams that don’t habitually over-sign a prayer of competing against schools with $20M revenue streams.

    Give coaches credit for innovating. People hated the forward pass at one point as well.

  9. cranespy says: Oct 3, 2012 5:54 PM

    He brings up some interesting points, however I am not certain they hold water in the safety conversation unless several points from other posts are included as well. My gripe is where there is a warp speed offense there tends to be little defense. We need more teams that play D and not just offense!

  10. wvucolumbus says: Oct 3, 2012 5:57 PM

    Damn “Brother” (term reserved for Marion County West Virginians)! Surprised your spouting about fast-break offenses. It’s how we’ve gotten ourselves on the map for the last decade at WVU….a program that has less than 1.7 M people in our state. Yet, we continue to beat programs w/ superior population, resources, etc.

    This statement was a clear poke at Dana Holgorsen, who equally HATES slow offenses (He nearly criticized Randy Edsall and Maryland for slowing the game so much on offense in a game 2-3 wks ago in Morgantown). If you don’t like it, Nicky, stop the offense.

    Just sounds like sour grapes to me. To insinuate that a clear and present danger is greater w/ a fast-break offense is inaccurate thinking. Just because we have hills/mountains around campus that our guys are able to train shouldn’t mean we penalize them for great speed at their craft. Get in better shape WVU opponents!

  11. jmcdonaldf says: Oct 3, 2012 6:03 PM

    I disagree with Nick Saban. The no huddle offensive places a premium on well conditioned and intelligent athletes to run successfully. If excecuted with skill, a larger number of players are needed to rotate in to play and the risk of injury is actually decreased. It is innovative and exciting to watch. I for one would be disappointed if the NCAA were to place constraints on innovations such as this.
    Go Ducks!

  12. vanmorrissey says: Oct 3, 2012 6:06 PM

    Yo, Deb, thumb up. Adaptation or get left behind. Run and shoot offense win counts the same as a ground and pound and since NFL style offenses are now geared that way since the rules allow more of an air attack, that’s the style kids like to play if they have aspirations to get to the NFL, at least on the offensive side. That’s why an Oregon-Alabama matchup would be so interesting.

  13. openseason51 says: Oct 3, 2012 6:21 PM

    Saban. Your word is always right? I don’t think so. It is called doing what it takes to win! That is what you preach. So live by it!

  14. novoodoo4409 says: Oct 3, 2012 6:31 PM

    No one outside the trailer parks, I mean city limits of Tuskeyloser, care what little Nicky thinks…fact…

  15. imaduffer says: Oct 3, 2012 6:49 PM

    Lou got p.o after he told his assistant to slow down the film of the Oregon Ducks for the third time.

  16. imaduffer says: Oct 3, 2012 6:51 PM

    My bad Nick.

  17. v2the4 says: Oct 3, 2012 6:57 PM

    I guess Saban is concerned about his next opponent, Missouri, on October 13 since they run the no huddle, but Georgia nor South Carolina had any issue shutting the Tigers offense down.

    Saban also has to play Texas A&M, and based on what they did to Arkansas last weekend, he could be looking way ahead to them, and they will get Bama the week after the Bama/LSU slugfest.

  18. jason1214 says: Oct 3, 2012 7:43 PM

    Wow Oregon fans already talkin smack. I think Saban was just giving an opinion, I also think a no huddle offense will never win a NCAA championship, MY opinion anyway. Roll Tide

  19. jc327 says: Oct 3, 2012 7:50 PM

    Saban is a defense guy, of course he doesn’t like the hurry up.

    He doesn’t coach my team but he’s a smart man who doesn’t mind pushing his agenda. And he’s in a position to do so.

    Can’t fault a guy for that.

  20. dkhhuey says: Oct 3, 2012 8:42 PM

    I will take an offense explosive game over a 6 – 3 punt heavy defensive coma inducing snooze fest every single time!

  21. mrlaloosh says: Oct 3, 2012 8:48 PM

    All you Oregon and West Virginia morons remember how that spread offense worked against LSU? Bama would crush you like they did LSU.

  22. moblixluvssports says: Oct 3, 2012 9:11 PM

    Saban is just posturing for when he goes up against the hurry-up offenses, just watch, a team will be moving the ball and d-backs will start “getting injured” and stopping the clock.

  23. deadeye says: Oct 3, 2012 10:19 PM

    Saban needs to go screw himself.

  24. mogogo1 says: Oct 3, 2012 10:30 PM

    “Player safety” is the new buzzword that covers absolutely anything. Is Saban also against short snap counts and fly patterns down the sideline? Because those are up-tempo, as well.

  25. brian1mahoney says: Oct 3, 2012 11:21 PM

    Concur, I don’t agree with Coach Saban’s premise that there are more injuries with the no-huddle.

    I do recall that Auburn’s approach when they played Oregon in the bowl a few years ago, they ran the hurry up, no-huddle as well, and the Oregon defense was pretty tired.

    Coach needs to adapt and and adjust because it is all about the process, and not the outcome, right?

    Great article on Coach Saban in Fortune

  26. martinporres says: Oct 3, 2012 11:34 PM

    mrlaloosh, do you mean after they beat you in the same year?

  27. vincentbojackson says: Oct 3, 2012 11:48 PM

    Football has never stopped evolving over it’s history. What works today will be disappear as soon as it stops working. Over the last 10 years the spread offense has become mainstream. The result is more parity in college football. Frankly, I think this scares the crap out of the major conferences that are trying to squeeze everyone else out.

  28. whodataggie says: Oct 4, 2012 12:05 AM

    I think that comment was really for Sumlin and A&M.

  29. Deb says: Oct 4, 2012 12:19 AM

    @vincentbojackson …

    You’ve still got a lot of tough teams–Bama and LSU, included–running pro-style offenses. Especially in the NFL, I don’t think the spread will ever replace the thrill of watching a real QB at work.

  30. Deb says: Oct 4, 2012 12:20 AM

    @vanmorrisey …

    I’d enjoy an Alabama-Oregon matchup! Just hoping we get that far!

    @imaduffer …

    That was priceless :)

    RIP Lou.

  31. t16rich says: Oct 4, 2012 1:16 AM

    Yeah, the no huddle is more dangerous then ground and pounding 18,19,20 year old kids hundreds of times a year. Quit whining Saban.

  32. goodfieldnohit says: Oct 4, 2012 1:25 AM

    11 players, 7 of which must be on the line of scrimmage, 5 of which cannot catch a pass. When the ball is marked ready for play, it’s time to play.

    I guess you can buy the zebras and make them slow to mark the football ready for play, or you can have your players resort to diving to the ground with fake injuries like Florida repeatedly did against A&M (two guys at the same time because they both saw the sign from the sidelines at the same time, I was there). It worked for the gators, they did win by a field goal.

    Or you can just tell your team to play football, Nick.

  33. stevequinn says: Oct 4, 2012 8:40 AM

    Football is a violent game. Nothing like stating the obvious huh? So I agree somewhat with Saban. Player safety should be first and foremost in everybody’s mind. Don’t forget,young kids playing FB emulate college and pro players. Young bodies can’t take the punishment a mature body can. They break easier. I’m seeing no-huddle games in HS and Pop Warner now.

  34. kozbee says: Oct 4, 2012 9:52 AM

    No-huddle imo is actually a part of a play to catch the other team off balance.If a coach wants to call it or run it that way i feel its up to what play they want.Times its used to beat down stronger teams defense and weaken them.Hey its football with just a little different twist to a game plan.Running up scores imo is a way to get higher rankings as Strength and yes most teams do it even Bama.By the way that Saban pic wasn`t it from the Ironbowl when Bama lost the worst game ever played in history after being up 24/0.Well back to my coffee and pastry then a long walk with mans best friend.

  35. hor2012 says: Oct 4, 2012 11:02 AM

    I think Nick Saban is a great coach and a even greater salesman. That’s why he brings in the best highschool talent in the nation year after year. Facing in traditional offense teams has talented as Bama would have little or no trouble stopping offenses. See last years national championship game. Other coaches who understand that in most cases they’re going to be outmanned by superior talent on defense understand that they mustt find ways to compensate. ie: no huddle offense. And, I personal don’t have any problems with that. I just think that coach Saban and other coaches will have to change their philosophy on recruting players. They’re going to have to focus on speed over size. Nick will adjust. It’s just a matter of time

  36. davis1984 says: Oct 4, 2012 11:37 AM

    I would have to agree that the No Huddle can cause injury but it’s football. Players get hurt running in the open field. I do think the chance of getting hurt is greater with a No Huddle Offence but it is effective in certain situations. It’s just a play style and if it wins games then use it. Saban will work around this style of play as Bama has the best talent.

    Roll Tide!!

  37. whiteh20man says: Oct 4, 2012 11:54 AM

    I don’t think Saban is whining. West Virginia 70 – Baylor 63. That’s not real football. That’s basketball.

    I wish they would do these things to bring back real football:

    – Change the rules back to allow “bump-and-run” defense, to give the defense a chance against the pass

    – Outlaw the shotgun (thus outlaw the “spread” offense) unless the team is behind by 21 points

    – Eliminate the “no huddle” offense unless within the last 2 minutes of either half, or the team is behind by 21 points

    – Eliminate sideline to quarterback electronic communications

    – Eliminate the offensive team being able to turn at look at the sidelines while at the line of scrimmage

    The running game has been run out of football and that puts too much power, credit … and pressure on the Qb. The running game is the essence of teamwork and physical play … what sets football apart from other sports. We need more balance between the pass and run. There is way too much emphasis on one person, the Qb, and not on the team. That must change.

  38. mediumsizedrobb says: Oct 4, 2012 12:14 PM

    The offense hasn’t switched anyone out, they’re not huffing and puffing. Get those big boys to run a few laps sabbie.

  39. whiteh20man says: Oct 4, 2012 12:20 PM

    But there is a big difference between playing offense and playing defense. The offense knows everything: the snap count, who they will block, where the ball is going, etc. The defense knows nothing and must react: this is MUCH harder physically and mentally.

  40. mediumsizedrobb says: Oct 4, 2012 12:21 PM

    Those are some truly godawful ideas. Good luck trying to enforce that “no looking at the sideline” rule. Rule changes depending on the amount a team is down? Why not just let them team down by 21 add a couple players to the field?

    Sorry that the game isnt like it was in the 80s or whatever but things go back and forth. Soon enough the spread will be out of fashion again and power football will be back. No rule changes needed to artificially force the game to no longer innovate. What works is what works.

  41. garywalkley says: Oct 4, 2012 12:28 PM

    Well Jason1214 your opinion is wrong. Auburn won with a no-huddle offense. So either you are just posting to post or you seemed to have forgotten that your arch-rival beat Bama with it and went on to win the National Championship.

  42. garywalkley says: Oct 4, 2012 12:30 PM

    Which is probably why Nick Saban hates it and Bama just may be Oregon’s whipping boy in January.

  43. mfoster1961 says: Oct 4, 2012 12:56 PM

    Mr. Kercheval- you are about the most negative and unethical writer I have ever had the displeasure of witnessing. When a head coach makes an observation and voices his opinion without any kind of derogatory remarks, unlike SOME individuals that we know…right??, then he is just voicing his concern…not complaining. Don’t worry, this is the last time that I read ANY of this tripe that you call objective writing. I just wonder what happened in your life that made you so negative and spiteful? Try to have a good life…..

  44. garywalkley says: Oct 4, 2012 1:00 PM

    mfoster1961, you forgot to say, “ROLL TIDE”. LMAO

  45. ninjasports says: Oct 4, 2012 1:04 PM

    Nick Saban may be successful now and for many years to come, but the game is evolving all around him. Speed kills.

  46. whiteh20man says: Oct 4, 2012 1:16 PM

    Ask yourself this. Given the current out of balance rules so favoring the offense, why would any young kid ever want to play on the defensive side of the ball? Why would he want to be humiliated week in and week out, giving up 40-50 points a game? If most of the talent migrates to the offense, as the rules have, where will we be then? Let’s bring some balance back to this great game. It’s a TEAM game … not pitch and catch.

  47. garywalkley says: Oct 4, 2012 1:30 PM

    Like someone mentioned earlier. The game fluctuates, sooner or later defenses will catch up causing offenses to evolve again.

    Whiteh20man, I do not knnow what rules you are referring to. I don’t know any rules that are telling coaches where to place their personnel.

  48. tacomaduck says: Oct 4, 2012 2:07 PM

    The outlawing looking at the sideline idea was the funniest thing I’ve read in a long time. Congr… Oh…you were serious?

  49. garywalkley says: Oct 4, 2012 2:33 PM

    Sadly, I believe he was serious with everything he said.

  50. Deb says: Oct 4, 2012 2:38 PM

    @whiteh20man …

    Those bump-and-run rules originated in the NFL because no one could play against the Steelers’ All Pro corner Mel Blount (look it up). And as a Steelers fan with a passion for defense, I’m with you on that. Oh yes, anything that gives the defense more freedom to attack is fine by me :)

    But I disagree on your desire to outlaw just about everything a modern offense does. The quarterback has always communicated with the sidelines, whether by hand signals or a device in his helmet. As I’m sure you’re aware, there’s a defensive signal caller on the other side of the ball who’s also in communication with the sidelines. It’s an even playing field. And you’re wrong that no one plays a tough running game anymore. The San Francisco 49ers made it to the NFC Championship last year with a game plan that skewed 65/35 run v. pass. People will use what’s successful–and usually that means balance between the run and the pass.

  51. Deb says: Oct 4, 2012 2:42 PM

    @vincentbojackson …

    Sorry … I misspoke in the previous post when commenting on the spread. I fine with the shotgun and the spread as it’s run by the Patriots and sometimes by my Steelers. Obviously those QBs demonstrate considerable skill. My issue is with the overuse of QB options and wildcat formations that make it seem as though there’s no QB on the field … just an extra RB who throws occasionally.

  52. d4g3c9 says: Oct 4, 2012 4:08 PM

    I understand where he’s comming from but what is the solution? As it stands now there’s a 25 second play clock, the ball must be in play before the time expires, what would they do institute a delay clock requiring quarterbacks to wait untill it expires before snapping the ball? Let’s say they do just that, and let’s say it’s a 10 second delay clock. That would reduce the amount of time the quarterback has to get the ball in play to 15 seconds.
    I also like the hurry up offence and unless there is direct evidence that it is causing an inordinate amount of injuries it is unlikely anything will change. However Saban doesn’t just run his mouth for headlines or to cry over a nonexistent issues so I bet he has the evidence and after the year is over he will have collected enough evidence to present his case to the NCAA. There is good arguement for it too, college football is for students not pros and if we are injuring students before they have fully developed physically they may never get a chance at the pros. Most college athletes WILL NEVER have a chance at the pros and they know it so why risk injuring them. It will be intresting to see if anything does happen, I don’t really care one way or the other, we have Nick Saban, we will win no matter what they change!
    ROLL TIDE !!!

  53. jason1214 says: Oct 4, 2012 5:48 PM


    No i didnt forget Auburns fluke year. I was refering to the Oregon’s and West Virginia’s of the game. Auburn didnt run at THEIR pace

  54. garywalkley says: Oct 4, 2012 5:51 PM

    Don’t hate. Auburn ran a no-huddle. your statement was about no-huddle. And of course you didn’t forget, how could you?

  55. cockydave says: Oct 4, 2012 5:52 PM

    I simply don’t think this is a player safety issue. I think you have to go out and play the type of ball that suits your team the best and try to stop the other guys from doing what they do best. If you don’t like what they are doing on the field, then stop them on the field. It’s that simple.

  56. tpuhinesor says: Oct 5, 2012 5:25 AM

    1-Saban is floating excuses for Alabama’s defeet when they meet the Duck in the BCS bowl.
    2-Been watching a lot of the NFL games and I hardly ever see any run backs. The kickers either have gotten so good they can kick the football out of the stadium or the kicking tee has been moved so far up the field that granny could kick one through the goal posts.
    3-I think that to add a lot of excitement to the game the ball should be placed on the 50 yard line and one speedster player from each team goes on after burner to take possession when the ref blows the whistle.

  57. alanh34 says: Oct 5, 2012 10:34 AM

    Saban’s still whining..anything to benefit him

  58. mountaineer50415 says: Oct 5, 2012 11:01 AM

    I like Alabama a lot. I like to hear Coach Saban get after the sports writers for not giving other teams respect. I like how he pushes his players as I love to see Alabama win. However, I cannot see how it is his business how or with what means others use to try and beat Alabama. It is his job to try to defend the other team, not tell then how to play. In this case I have to say to the coach. MYOB. I am a Mountaineer and I love the way we play. Wish we had a defense, but I love the offense. If you want to say something about our defense, go for it.

  59. th56 says: Oct 8, 2012 3:08 PM

    The no huddle is harder to coach, harder to execute and harder to defend. If it was easy then everybody would do it.

  60. choppa2lis says: Oct 9, 2012 9:55 PM

    saban is a whining napoleon complex having midget wussbag, nobody cares what this douchebag has to say

  61. hart3413 says: Oct 9, 2012 11:01 PM

    Actually Mr laloosh, Oregons spread offense did okay against LSU. they scored as many points against LSU in that game as Alabama did in 2 games.

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