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3-point stance: Substitution wars

1. The Football Rules Committee long has been a battleground for coaches, and sometimes the battles rage for years. The late David Nelson, the editor of the NCAA Football Rules Book from more than 30 years, called the period from 1952 to 1965 “The Substitution Wars.” The committee went back and forth over whether the game should be played by 11 men playing both ways or by 22. Unlimited substitution won out, and old-school coaches would be appalled by the number of players used today.

2. The almost visceral reaction by head coaches across the country against the proposed substitution change was striking. The coaches who favor the change, wherever they are, were drowned out by the opponents. Coaches discuss rules at the AFCA Convention every January. The surprise expressed Wednesday night and into Thursday illustrates that whatever discussion took place at the convention didn’t lead coaches to expect the change. That means someone did a poor job of communicating.

3. Darren Rovell’s story on declining student attendance at FBS games pointed out that in the revenue grab of the last two decades, most schools have shoved students into the corner of an end zone, taking them for granted. If it were only that simple. Depending on the school, students are also sensitive to kickoff time, to boredom, and to other interests. The most worrisome aspect of the story: No one can point to a solution.