Look What Saban Is Doing To Game

After C.M. Newton retired as Alabama basketball coach, his longtime assistant, Wimp Sanderson, was promoted to head coach. Wimp went down the hall of Coach Paul Bryant's office, stuck his head in the door, and said, "Coach, I wanted to thank you for this opportunity."

Bryant, who was Alabama athletics director as well as head football coach, said, "I didn't do it. That was Sam (referring to his associate athletics director Sam Bailey)." And then, after a pause, Bryant added, "But I could have stopped it if I had wanted to."

Why would anyone think about this today? Because Alabama Coach Nick Saban is being given credit (actually blame) for something he has nothing to do with.

The NCAA Football Rules Committee, of which Saban is not a member, has proposed that there be at least 10 seconds between the time the 40-second clock is set and the ball is snapped. Snapping the ball early would result in a five-yard penalty.

No one on the Alabama side would deny that this could be a help to the Crimson Tide defense. Bama has had the nation's best defense more than any other team since Saban took over, but the Tide has certainly had its problems with the hurry-up spread offenses in vogue at many schools.

Nevertheless, Saban's stance on the matter has been regularly misstated by those opposed to a rules change – and, more accurately, those opposed to Alabama and Saban.

Saban was very clear in last year's Southeastern Conference Media Days event on his concern about player safety. He said he didn't know if the hurry-up offenses put players in more danger of injury, but he thought there should be some study made to make sure.

There have been many, many studies that a tired football player is more likely to suffer injury than a fresh one. The answer from the hurry-up proponents is that is the responsibility of the defensive players to be in good shape. Almost no one who has followed football for any length of time would suggest that defensive linemen who are chasing offensive skill players and offensive linemen expend the same amount of energy.

Air Force Coach Troy Calhoun said, "This rules change is being made to enhance student-athlete safety by guaranteeing a small window for both teams to substitute," As the average number of plays per game has increased, this issue has been discussed with greater frequency by the committee in recent years and we felt like it was time to act in the interests of protecting our student-athletes."

The NCAA football rules committee has proposed a change to the targeting rule that would eliminate the 15-yard penalty when instant replay officials overturn an ejection.

Last year, when a targeting penalty was called, the 15-yard penalty stood even if the replay official determined the player should be allowed to stay in the game.

All rules proposals must be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which will discuss the football rules changes March 6. The committee may approve, deny, or delay for more study.

Meanwhile, the anti-Alabama, anti-Saban crowd has to worry that the Crimson Tide coach has the power to destroy them. Which, by the way, he does.

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