SEC football is engaged in a little civil war.
Old school coaches on one side. New-age coaches on another.
It would be sort of fun to sit back and watch the carnage, if it didn't affect us so much out here on the Big 12 frontier.
But it does.
College football's rules committee has recommended slowing down the hurryup offenses that are terrorizing defenses. Including Nick Saban's, whose Alabamans in the Sugar Bowl were popped 45-31 by the Sooners.
The proposal prevents offenses from snapping the ball until at least 10 seconds have passed from the previous play. In theory, defenses would have time to substitute, which can be a problem under the current rules, if the offense doesn't sub.
OU, OSU, Baylor, Texas Tech and West Virginia have lived off uptempo offenses in recent years.
Mike Gundy doesn't like the proposal. Doesn't like it one bit.
“The 10-second rule is like asking basketball to take away the shot clock — boring!” Gundy wrote on his twitter account. “It's like asking a blitzing linebacker to raise his hand.”
You can't blame Gundy for being riled. The hurryup offense has been very, very good to the Cowboys.
OSU, like OU, doesn't always snap the ball inside 10 seconds. In fact, both squads rarely get off a play that quick. But the idea that they can if they want helps maintain a threat that keeps defenses on its heels.
Which is why Saban has teamed with Wisconsin expatriate Bret Bielema, now the coach at Arkansas, to slow down the danged sport.
Saban still is smarting from the Sugar Bowl, when the Sooners mixed milking the play clock with hurried snaps, a gameplan that had the Crimson Tide dazed.
OU quarterback Trevor Knight threw for 348 yards and four touchdowns against 'Bama.
Out of 77 meaningful snaps in the Sugar Bowl, the Sooners employed the hurryup only 16 times. And of those 16, I counted only five that were snapped with at least 30 seconds left on the play clock.
Not all those plays were successful. But those plays kept 'Bama off balance.
That's why Gundy was licking his chops in 2011, when his Cowboys and Alabama were political opponents over who would face LSU in the Big Bowl. Gundy wanted to take his chances with a spread-it-out, hurry-it-up offense against a traditional SEC defense.
Now, the hurryup has infiltrated to the SEC, where coaches Gus Malzahn of Auburn, Hugh Freeze of Ole Miss and Kevin Sumlin of Texas A&M are enraged over the rule recommendation.
Final determination on the rule is expected in March, which should make the SEC football meetings in the spring quite interesting, no matter how it goes.
If the rule goes through, you're likely to see a change in the look of games. You know how teams now stand around at the line of scrimmage, instead of huddling? We might see the return of the huddle.
Defenses like Alabama like to check off into different alignments after seeing the formation. The hurryup prevents some of that; offenses can snap the ball before the defense can adjust.
Now, offenses figure not to give away the formation. They'll still hurry up, but this time out of a huddle or something similar.
“The no-huddle, fast-tempo style has changed the game,” Gundy wrote. “Our sport has exploded in popularity with high scoring & packed stadiums. Why change our sport at the peak of its popularity”?
That's a little bit of an exaggeration. College football's popularity hasn't exploded. It's been on a steady incline for decades.
But Gundy is fundamentally correct. Fans like offense. Fans have always liked offense.
This rule would not take all the excitement away. Truth is, the no-huddle includes a whole lot of standing around at the line of scrimmage.
And the rule wouldn't cut significantly into the number of plays in a game. OSU averaged 76 snaps a game last season. The rule would cost the Cowboys only a couple of snaps a game, maximum.
But points could go down. Give defenses a chance to catch its breath and get a fresh pass rusher on the field, maybe they make a stop they wouldn't have otherwise made.
That's what's going through Saban's mind. On OU's second touchdown drive of the Sugar Bowl, the Sooners ran two hurryup plays early in a drive, then ran 10 straight plays in which every snap came with less than 15 seconds on the play clock. So 'Bama's defense had plenty of time. But that early tempo was on the Tide's mind.
And that's why Saban endorses the rule, despite the public assertion that it's intended to promote safety.
This will be a great debate in the next weeks, centering in the SEC, which has opened its gates to offensive revolution. The Big 12 awaits the verdict.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.