The NCAA playing rules oversight panel will vote on Thursday to determine if a “10-second rule” that will slow down offenses will be put into place next season. Nick Saban and Bret Bielma are two of the more prominent coaches that support the new rule, citing player safety as the basis of their argument. On Wednesday, Saban compared “fastball” offenses to smoking cigarettes and getting cancer.
“The fastball guys (up-tempo coaches) say there’s no data out there, and I guess you have to use some logic,” he told ESPN.com’s Chris Low. “What’s the logic? If you smoke one cigarette, do you have the same chances of getting cancer if you smoke 20? I guess there’s no study that specifically says that. But logically, we would say, ‘Yeah, there probably is.’”
A survey conducted by ESPN’s Brett McMurphy revealed that only 25 of the 128 FBS head coaches are in favor of the “10-second rule” proposal. Of those 25, only 11 are from the SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12. Most coaches believe there is no evidence to support the claim that running an up-tempo offense increases injuries, but neurosurgeon Dr. Julian Bailes disagrees.
“If you play more snaps, you’re going to have more exposure. I think that’s a fact,” Bailes said. “It bears very serious consideration on whether the game should be slowed down or have fewer plays if you believe exposure equals injury risk or player safety.”
Coaches who oppose the rule insist that Saban — who has been singing the same tune for years now — is simply looking to mold the game in a way that benefits his coaching style. The new rule would penalize teams for snapping the ball within the first 10 seconds of the 40-second play clock.
“The issue I’m arguing for is the increased number of exposures, the player safety issue,” Saban said. “I don’t see how logically it can’t be, but we should at least do a study to find out. I guess the question is: How do we manage it in the meantime? Do we let them keep going, or do we slow them down?”
In all likelihood, Saban is not going to get his way. Comparing up-tempo offenses to cancer caused from cigarettes probably does little to boost his argument.