There’s an old adage among lawyers to the effect that if you don’t know the law, make sure you know the judge. Evidently it applies to football coaches, too.
Nick Saban, head coach at Alabama, received a rude awakening at the hands of Oklahoma in January’s Sugar Bowl when the heavily favored Crimson Tide was upset by the Sooners 45 to 31.
It’s an experience Saban’s favored but sluggish players don’t wish to repeat, so Nick appeared before a meeting of the NCAA football rules committee to advocate a rule change that would slow down "no-huddle" offenses like the one that left 'Bama befuddled and behind. Rival South Carolina Coach Steve Spurrier, who opposes the change, calls the proposal the "Saban rule."
As a fan all I can say is I haven’t heard anyone, other than advertisers, asking for longer football games. The last rule added to slow the college game stopped the play clock each time a team managed a first down. The Saban rule would slow play on every down.
During Saban’s appearance before the committee he pushed for forcing the team on offense to wait at least 10 seconds before snapping the ball, or until the defensive captain announced, “Mother may I,” whichever took longer.
Saban used "safety" as a justification for the change rather than the real reason, which was some of his defensive whales were too tired to get into position to stop the next play.
Forcing a predictable delay before every play opens up the dreadful possibility of inserting new commercial breaks in the middle of the snap count. Or even worse, allowing sideline reporters more time to point out the obvious.
Saban has long been in favor of changing to a more solemn and predictable minuet style of offense. Last summer he asked the media, “Should we allow football to be a continuous game? Is that the way the game was designed to play?"
The fans would certainly say yes. Back in the dawn of history — before steroids and oxygen tanks on the sideline — college players used to “play both ways,” meaning they were playing on both offense and defense. Coaches didn’t substitute like they were shuffling cards. Maybe Saban needs to recruit fewer moving-van-sized players who can only last for two consecutive downs and try to find a defender who can stay on the field longer.
Many of you are probably thinking that I don’t have any room to talk and furthermore I wouldn’t last a down facing Saban’s defensive line. Maybe so if I was within arm’s reach, but I have a sneaking suspicion that with a small head start after 100 yards none of them would have enough energy left to catch me.
Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan. He is president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation and chairman of the League of American Voters. Mike is an in-demand speaker with Premiere. Read more reports from Michael Reagan — Go Here Now.