Valerio Pennicino


Allow the NCAA a moment of clarity: among this year's proposed rule changes, there is something un-stupid in taking away the mandatory fifteen yard personal foul accompanying a targeting penalty. In 2013, this was assessed even on overturned targeting calls. This makes sense, and if it were the only rule the NCAA and the Rules Committee were considering we could leave this as the first year in recent history where the Rules Committee has not overlegislated in the name of justifying its own useless existence.

(Please note that this is the Rules Committee fixing its own stupid, shortsighted mistake.)

This is not that year. The Rules Committee has proposed that teams may not snap the ball with more than 29 seconds left on the play clock. This is the stated justification for that rule.

"This rules change is being made to enhance student-athlete safety by guaranteeing a small window for both teams to substitute," said Calhoun.

This comes despite the dearth of research or data backing up the assertion that hurry-up offenses are any more dangerous than conventional offenses. In fact, there's very little data or research to say anything about the matter at all besides this: generally speaking, the difference in the two style of offenses is the varying frequency and intensity of injuries. Clumpy slamball offenses tend concentrate more frequent head injuries among linemen, and spread offenses have higher intensity injuries distributed more evenly (i.e. among running backs and wide receivers running into things with big head starts.)

That's just the nebulous-at-best safety angle. The rule would affect very few teams. Not many can ever snap the ball with less than 29 seconds on the clock anyway--Baylor miiiiiight get the ball off with 30 seconds on the clock if the refs aren't sucking too much wind--but the principle of the thing is what goads the brain so badly. Managing the play-clock in the opposite direction is respected football wisdom; pushing the play clock to its limits in the other direction, however, is worthy of college football's equivalent of legislative intervention.

The worst part is that there is nothing we can write more absurd than this than the actual rule proposal itself: You could get a delay of game penalty for going too quickly in college football in 2014. We can't do better than that, which is the problem with being a hardcore absurdist. Real life always wins, and is undefeated in this department.

P.S. A defense for the rule better than anything Troy Calhoun said would be "We just hate running." Everyone understands that.

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