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Oklahoma's Josh Heupel adds his voice to chorus of opponents to proposed NCAA rule changes

by Jason Kersey Modified: February 21, 2014 at 3:40 pm •  Published: February 21, 2014

University of Oklahoma co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel talks after an OU college football practice in Norman, Okla., Tuesday, August 7, 2013.  Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
University of Oklahoma co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel talks after an OU college football practice in Norman, Okla., Tuesday, August 7, 2013. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

NORMAN — Oklahoma co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel weighed in Friday on the controversy surrounding a proposed NCAA rule change to slow the game down.

Last week, the NCAA Football Rules Committee approved a proposal that would force offenses to wait until the play clock hits 29 seconds before snapping the ball, allowing defenses 10 seconds to make substitutions. The rule wouldn’t be enforced with two minutes remaining in either half.

The proposal has been championed by Alabama coach Nick Saban and Arkansas coach Bret Bielema, who have insisted that it’s all about player safety.

Lots of prominent coaches who run up-tempo offenses have come out against the proposal, including South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn and, Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin and Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy.

Friday, in a radio interview with former Sooners Dusty Dvoracek and Teddy Lehman, Heupel added his voice to the chorus of opponents.

“I think if safety is really at its core, then we shouldn’t be allowed to go quickly during the two-minute drill, either,” Heupel said. “If that’s the real concern, then you’ve gotta stay out of 22 and 21 personnel because there are a bunch of bodies in there with big, physical collisions on the inside.

“To me, if safety is the issue then it should stay consistent throughout the entire game. Certainly I don’t agree with it. I think it’s been a great change for college football, the up-tempo offenses, and I really don’t see it passing, hopefully.”

Asked how much the proposal would affect Oklahoma’s offense, Heupel said, “Not all the time, but certainly, when we’re going from first-to-second down and we’re in a similar-type formation where wide receivers aren’t having to go from one side to the other side, you’re able to snap it before that.

“Not all of our up-tempo plays would be affected by it, but certainly enough of it, and I think as much as anything, just the illusion that you can go faster than that is extremely important as well when you’re playing against a defense.”

The proposal is scheduled to be considered by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel on March 6. If approved, it would be implemented this fall.

by Jason Kersey
OU Sports Reporter
Jason Kersey became The Oklahoman's OU football beat writer in May 2012 after a year covering high school sports and OSU recruiting. Before joining the newspaper in November 2006 as a part-time results clerk, he covered high school football for...
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