10-second rule withdrawn by NCAA rules committee

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 5, 2014 at 5:29 pm •  Published: March 5, 2014
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Bielema and Saban were not on the rules committee but had a chance to address it last month and push for changes to control the ever-quickening pace of play. Alabama ranked 116th in the nation in plays per game last year at 65.9 per game. Arkansas was 121st at 64.7.

The proposal was passed on Feb. 12. What followed was three weeks of heated debate among college football fans and coaches about the evolution of football.

A debate that is not even close to over.

"I'm just one that doesn't think the officials should not control the pace of the game," Saban told reporters before it was announced the 10-second rule had been withdrawn. "That's what I think, because that's a player safety issue, too. To me, football was not intended to be a continuous game. Soccer is. Rugby is. Football was never intended to be that. It's been played for a long time and there's always been a little bit of time between plays because of the physical nature, the contact that's involved."

The proposal caught many coaches by surprise because this is non-change year for NCAA rules. Exceptions could be made for rules related to player safety, however.

Coaches such as Rodriguez weren't buying the safety concerns and felt as if they had been left out of the process.

"I'm more than happy to join that debate if it goes there," Rodriguez said. "There's a lot people with strong opinions on it on both sides."

Bielema said he feared for players with the sickle cell trait, a genetic condition that can alter red blood cells during strenuous exercise and cause muscles to break down, being unable to come off the field against fast-moving offenses.

"It's hasn't been a schematic (issue) or anything," said Bielema, also before the proposal was withdrawn Wednesday. "It's all been about player safety, and I'm not wavering from that because that's all it's about."

But even rules committee chair Troy Calhoun, the coach at Air Force, acknowledged after the proposal passed that the lack of data supporting safety concerns would make the change difficult to approve.

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AP Sports Writers John Zenor in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Kurt Voigt in Fayetteville, Ark., contributed.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP


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