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Chair: No need to slow offense if no safety issue

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 18, 2014 at 5:32 pm •  Published: February 18, 2014

The chairman of the NCAA Football Rules Committee said Tuesday a proposal to prohibit snapping the ball until at least 10 seconds run off the 40-second play clock should not go forward if there is no hard evidence showing up-tempo offenses endanger defensive players.

Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, the committee chairman, said he has yet to see a medical study linking the rapid pace of an offense to potential health issues for defensive players.

"If there is nothing that arises that's firm, there's no way you want to enact a rule. That doesn't make any sense," Calhoun said during a call with reporters. "But if there is something that surfaces where there is legitimate concern here, now you're talking about some responsibility that's involved."

The Playing Rules Oversight Commission, which meets March 6, is the body that would approve the proposal for it to go into effect next season. Calhoun said evidence would need to be presented before the comment period ends March 3.

That oversight panel is made up of commissioners and administrators and deals with rule changes for all NCAA sports. Commissioners Larry Scott of the Pac-12 and Jon Steinbrecher of the Mid-American Conference — two leagues where up-tempo offenses are pervasive — are members.

This is a non-rules change year for the NCAA, but exceptions can be made for rules that affect player safety.

The rule would allow defenses time to make a substitution without the offense changing players — as is currently required — and with no fear the ball will be snapped before 29 seconds are left on the play clock. An exception would be made for the final two minutes of each half, when the offense could snap the ball as quickly as it wants. A violation of the rule would result in a 5-yard penalty.

The proposal has sparked an outcry among coaches who run up-tempo offenses.

After the football rules committee met this month, Calhoun said pace of play had been discussed in recent years and committee members felt it was "time to act in the interests of protecting our student-athletes." Alabama coach Nick Saban and Arkansas coach Bret Bielema, who run more traditional offenses, met with the committee and voiced their support for the proposal.

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