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Free to go fast: NCAA rules committee kills proposal

March 5, 2014

Nick Marshall won't have to slow down in his senior season as Auburn's quarfterback (USA Today photo)

AUBURN - Head Gus Malzahn and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee can go as fast they want in their second Auburn season. Quarterback Nick Marshall doesn't have to watch 10 seconds run off the clock before he can call for the ball to be snapped.

On Wednesday, the NCAA Rules Committee killed its own proposal that offenses be required to let 10 seconds run off the play clock before snapping the ball. The decision was a stinging defeat for Arkansas coach Bret Bielema and Alabama coach Nick Saban, who had championed the changed for what they said were safety reasons.

Malzahn, one of the creators of the hurryup, no-huddle offense, said he was opposed to the change and suggested that a study should be conducted. After the proposal was passed, rules committee members were inundated by coaches opposed to the rule.

"This is not a rule change year, and for a rule to be changed, it has to be under the umbrella of health and safety," Malzahn said on Feb. 18. "The fact is, there is absolutely zero documented evidence that it is hazardous, only opinions."

Wednesday's decision means the NCAA playing rules oversight committee will not vote on the proposal Thursday as scheduled. For at least next season, the proposal is dead.

The controversy flared up when Bielema complained last summer at SEC Media Days about hurryup offenses. He said they caused injuries and rejected any notion that they hadn't. Malzahn said he thought it was a joke when he first heard of Bielema's complaints.

ESPN conducted a survey of all 128 FBS coaches, and 93 of them were opposd to the proposal. Twenty-five favored it and 10 were undecided.

In a recent ESPN survey of all 128 FBS coaches, 73 percent (93 coaches) were opposed to the proposal, 19.5 percent (25 coaches) were in favor. The remaining 10 coaches were undecided.

After he was criticized for using the death of a California player during a conditioning workout to support his argument, Bielema had little to say. Saban took up the cause in an interview with's Chris Low.

"The fastball guys say there's no data out there, and I guess you have to use some logic," Saban said. "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.' "


Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for Follow Marshall on Twitter:




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