NCAA football rules proposal could slow down Notre Dame's offense

ERIC HANSEN
South Bend Tribune

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly’s designs to speed up the Irish offense this fall hit a bit of a speed bump Wednesday.

The NCAA Football Rules Committee proposed a regulatory wrinkle that would put a hand brake on uptempo offenses for the most part, allowing defensive units to substitute within the first 10 seconds of the 40-second play clock. The exception to the rule falls in the final two minutes of each half.

If approved, the rule would go into effect this coming season.

And if approved, there will be a lot of unhappy coaches, based on early reaction on Twitter.

Both the beauty and function of running the uptempo offense, particularly in a non-catch-up situation, is to limit defensive substitutions, to keep them from matching up situationally based on down and distance.

How the rule would be implemented goes as follows: The offense would not be allowed to snap the ball until the play clock reaches 29 seconds (or less). If the offense snapped the ball before the play clock reached 29 seconds, a five-yard, delay-of-game penalty would be assessed.

The way the rule currently is implemented, defensive players are not guaranteed an opportunity to substitute unless the offense subs first. That part of the rule would remain in place in scenarios in which the play clock starts at 25 seconds.

The rules committee cited safety concerns in formulating the proposal, which is hardly a new stance.

“As the average number of plays per game has increased, this issue has been discussed with greater frequency by the committee in recent years,” said Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, the rules committee’s chairman. “And we felt like it was time to act in the interests of protecting our student-athletes.”

What is missing from the rhetoric is what proponents of fastbreak offenses have long been asking for from their detractors — statistical evidence.

The proposal was one of two forwarded on to the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel from the rules committee’s meetings in Indianapolis on Tuesday and Wednesday. The oversight panel, which has the power for final approval or dismissal, meets March 6.

The other proposal has to do with the controversial targeting rule, implemented last season. That rule would be modified somewhat if the recommendation holds.

The rule carried a 15-yard penalty and an automatic ejection from the game in 2013. There were instances, though, in which the ejection was reversed after video replay, but, by rule, the penalty remained.

Under the proposal, as long as another personal foul is not committed along with targeting, the 15-yard penalty will be reversed if video evidence leads to the ejection being overturned.

“Overall, the targeting rule was successful and has had the intended impact of making play safer,” Calhoun said. “This alteration keeps the intent of the rule, but allows replay to correct all of the consequences from a rare missed call.”

EHansen@SBTinfo.com

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Twitter: @hansenNDInsider

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly sees a talented but inexperienced team that is beginning spring drills.  (SBT File Photo/SANTIAGO FLORES)