Count Clemson coach Dabo Swinney as one of the many who are against a proposed rule that would slow down the game.
“That’s the dumbest rule,” Swinney told ESPN.com on Wednesday. “That rule right there reminds me of public reaction people had when they put in the forward pass. It’s just the craziest thing. That makes no sense, and to hide behind player safety is wrong because it’s just not factual.”
Considering the backlash against the proposed rule, ACC coordinator of officials Doug Rhoads said it will get “extra scrutiny” from the rules committee. Rhoads has spoken with every coach in the conference about it, and while he wouldn’t give an exact breakdown of where the coaches stand on it -- other to say some were in favor, some weren’t -- Rhoads did say “the majority” of ACC coaches don’t think there’s sufficient research to validate the change.
The ACC reflects the national sentiment.
“Not speaking for the rules committee, but speaking from an officiating perspective, I think there’s concern amongst a number of coaches that there wasn’t sufficient data gathered to support whether this was or wasn’t needed,” Rhoads said. “That’s where we are now in the comment period, coaches saying where is the data that this is a player safety issue? There’s not a compelling argument that’s the case here, so I think it’s going to get extra scrutiny over this comment period before it ever becomes final.”
If passed, the proposal would prohibit teams from snapping the ball until at least 10 seconds run off the 40-second play clock, which would allow defenses time to substitute. The exceptions would be in the final two minutes of each half or if the play clock began at 25 seconds.
“Oh, so now all of a sudden we don’t care about them in two minutes?” Swinney deadpanned.
Under offensive coordinator Chad Morris, Clemson typically snaps the ball somewhere between the 23 and 30-second mark, but the Tigers often snap it within 30 seconds. Swinney said they change their tempo a lot, and if their offensive linemen can handle it, why can’t the defense?
“And how about the offensive guys?” he said. “Most of the time, when you look at defenses, they rotate their defensive line the whole game. We do it, most teams do it. Those offensive linemen play just about every snap. So we’re going to sit here and cry for guys who are playing 30 snaps when you’ve got guys on the other side playing 70? Give me a break. It’s an agenda, that’s what it is. If we’re going to talk about player safety, then when they’re going to blitz seven and we’ve only got six, is that extra guy going to hold his hand up before he comes so we know where he’s coming from and that kind of stuff? The whole thing is ridiculous.”
Rhoads pointed out that there’s already an “absolute mandate” for officials to stop the game and send a player out if he thinks the player is injured or fatigued. At the FBS level, Rhoads said teams are averaging close to 180 plays per game, the highest it’s ever been. A few years ago, he said teams were averaging 130-140 plays.
“There’s no way you see a fatigued guy, a guy down on one knee,” Rhoads said. “Whether he asks for that injury timeout or not, that’s part of our management of the game -- detect anything to do with player safety, stop the game, let the trainers look at him.”
The NCAA's 11-member playing rules oversight panel will vote on the proposal on March 6. No coaches are on the panel, but by now, the committee should know where the majority of coaches stand on it.