Paranoia. Paranoia. Everyone is out to get the spread teams.
Last year, Alabama’s Nick Saban and Arkansas’ Bret Bielema were advocates of slowing down the game by changing the defensive substitution rules.
The NCAA Rules Committee shelved the discussion after numerous coaches came out publicly denouncing the potential rule change.
However, the NCAA did pass a rule last week that shortens the distance an offensive linemen is allowed to be downfield when a pass is in the air. The new rule states an offensive lineman cannot be more than a yard beyond the line of scrimmage during a passing play.
At least four prominent coaches that utilize spread offenses came out publicly and stated the change is merely an overreaction by the rules committee.
“I just want ’em to enforce the rule they have,” Arizona State head coach Todd Graham told USA TODAY‘s George Schroeder. “You’re not supposed to be more than 3 yards downfield. They need to enforce that.”
It’s not uncommon to see an offensive lineman five yards or more downfield due to the prevalence of packaged plays at the collegiate level. Quarterbacks are often given the option to hand the ball off, run or pass the football in a single play. Some signal-callers are adept at waiting until the last second before they uncork a pass. When that happens, there is usually an offensive lineman too far downfield, yet it’s rarely called.
Over the next two weeks, detractors of the rule change can provide comments to the rules committee. The NCAA’s Playing Rules Oversight Panel will then consider to move forward or not with the rule change on March 5.
“This is the second year in a row I’ll be involved in (pushing back against a proposal),” Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze told Schroeder. “I’m certainly not looking for things. If my understanding is correct, the reason they are proposing the rule change is based on a small sample size of plays that the (rules) committee viewed. In those plays, flags should have been thrown. … I think it’s a bad precedent to start changing rules of our game because things that were fouls weren’t called. I want to be clear: I don’t think we should be allowed to have linemen running free downfield (on pass plays). But the rule is a good rule.”
Graham and Freeze are joined by Auburn’s Gus Malzahn and Baylor’s Art Briles in asking the rule be withdrawn from consideration.