Gus Malzahn: Rule would change 'dynamics of football'

Feb. 18, 2014

GusMalzahn
Auburn's Gus Malzahn wants to put the brakes on a proposed rules change designed to slow hurry-up offenses (USA Today photo)

By Charles Goldberg
AuburnTigers.com

AUBURN, Ala. -- Auburn coach Gus Malzahn says a proposed rule change to slow down fast-paced offenses would "change the dynamics of football" and should not be approved. 

Malzahn said Tuesday there's no evidence to suggest fast-paced offenses cause more injuries as Alabama's Nick Saban and Arkansas' Bret Bielema argued before the NCAA rules committee last week in seeking the rule change. The rules committee recommended that offenses should not be allowed to snap the ball in the first 10 seconds of the play clock to give defenses a chance to substitute. Coaches of fast-paced offenses disagree. The rules committee will vote on the proposed change March 6. 

Malzahn said his first concern is the safety of players, but "there’s absolutely zero evidence, documented evidence, that it is hazardous on the pace of play, only opinions." 

Malzahn said he's been in discussions with Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, who is chairman of the rules committee. 

"What I asked him to do is move this to next year where it is a rule-change year, that we can hear both sides and have a healthy debate on moving forward with the rules," Malzahn said. 

Malzahn emphasized it is not a "rule-change year," but rules can be changed in 2015. 

Malzahn said fast-paced offenses do not put players at risk. "I am first and most concerned about player's safety and I've always been. We play in a very violent game, but as far as this particular rule, with no evidence, I disagree."

Other fast-paced coaches have opposed the proposed rule change, too, including Washington State' Mike Leach, Michigan's Rich Rodriguez and Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin.

"What’s next? You can only have three downs?" asked Rodriquez last week.

Said UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone, "Why don’t we just do away with the play clock and wait for the defense to say they’re ready? We could have the quarterback go over to the other team’s sideline and ask if it’s OK to snap the ball."

Malzahn said there should be "a healthy debate with both sides and both opinions, I think that would be very useful," but that should be next year when rule changes are allowed. 

"Once again, I don’t think we need to lose sight of the fact that the only way you can change a rule is the health and safety of our players. And it’s got to be documented, and there’s got to be proof. And there’s not. So I don’t think that that sight can be lost, because that’s really the bottom line." 

Malzahn said he's "been running a fast-paced offense since 1997, I’ve never felt like on either side that it was a health and safety issue on offense or the other side." 

Malzahn said the proposed change is "just a complete rule change. It changes the dynamics of traditional football in a lot more ways than anyone would think. Not just if you get behind by a couple touchdowns and it’s late in the game, you couldn’t properly come back. But the way you coach your quarterbacks. Because it wouldn’t just be 10 seconds. You got a 5-yard penalty, so it would probably be more of the four or five seconds into that. And it would just change the dynamics of football." 

Malzahn said he's talked with other coaches who employ fast-paced offenses. 

"But, like I said, the majority of my conversations have been with Troy Calhoun," he said.

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: