1959 Substitution rule

Earl Blaik explains the disadvantages of the substitution rule that "plagued" the game as he said, during the 1959 season-----


    By Col. Earl H. (Red) Blaik

    Asbury Park N J Evening Press

    October, 1959 

    Offered for Friends

    New York - Last Saturday, I returned to West Point and suffered for two old coaching friends, Penn State's Rip Engle and Army's new coach Dale Hall caused a " traffic" jam by the new "wild-card" substitution rule.

The traffic-direction handicap almost cost Penn State the game. The "wild card" rule also prevented an Army team, seriously depleted by injuries to key men and without depth in many positions to begin with, the use of its vital passer, Joe Caldwell, in the crucial closing minutes of the first half. Caldwell had used up his two charged entries for the second period.

Late in the first half, with Penn State leading,, 10-3, a pass interference penalty gave the Nittany Lions a first down on the Cadet four-yard line. But before they could put the ball in play, they were penalized 15 yards to the Army 19 for an illegal substitution. 

Confused by Rule

Apparently, Engle had become understandably confused by the "wild-card" rule - as many other coaches have and will continue to be, until it is rescinded. Rip was unaware that halfback Dick Hoak, the man he sent in, already had used up his two charged entries for the period.

From its 19, State's ace quarterback Richie Lucas tried a pass which he would not have attempted from the four. It was intercepted

By Cadet guard Mike Casp who ran it 69 yards to an apparent touchdown. Fortunately for State and Engle, Army player had been offside. Otherwise, Army would have trailed only 9-10, tied 10-10 or led by two at the end of the half, and probably would have gone on to win.

In other words confusion caused by the present substitution rule.

It would have cost Penn State a game it deserved to win, and earned Engle unfair censure.

Meanwhile, Hall had to keep Caldwell on the bench during this important phase." With Joe in action, it is unlikely the pass interception by Penn State, which. originally gave the Nittany Lions field position before the pass interference, or the interference itself would have taken place. With star halfback Bob Anderson, left end Don Usry, and others incapacitated, Hall was further handicapped by an utterly useless rule. 

It is true the substitution rule has been liberalized slightly this year. Last year, a player could return to the game once within the same period; in other words he was permitted two charged entries. This year he may return as many times as he wishes, provided he Is the only player on his team who is returning, time is out, and he has not used up his his second charged entry.

If all this confuses you, you are no more confused than the coaches and officials, It was not until several months after the change had been adopted and they had a chance to scrutinize closely the wording of the rule, that they became aware that it had a joker in it. The joker is that once a player has used up his second charged entry he cannot return again in the same quarter under any conditions.

Coaches, as if they didn't have enough to do already, must keep track of the number of charged entries a gainst each player. At least one coach has experimented with three segregated benches, for players who have respectively none, one or two charged entries. How absurd can you get or, how absurd can the rules committee make you, get?. OfficiaIs are equally unhappy about the rule. They must keep an individual card for each quarter and mark a circle next to a player's first entry and an X next to his second. The picture of a line of substitutes filing past the umpire or field judge to be checked off by the numbers, circles and X's can only be likened to the 4 PM CLOCK SHIFT of guards in an insane asylum.

This process can slow up a game to the point of boredom. Army- Penn State, took three hours instead of the normal two hours and 20 minutes. The substitution process was responsible for the dragging out far more than the many costly penalties incurred by the Cadets. 

Step Forward 

The rule is-nothing but a false step in what must ultimately be a return to unlimited substitution, which permitted two platoons of separate units for offense and defense each time the ball changes hands to the advantage of the college game .

The colleges conceived the two platoon game and the high schools and pros copied it. The high schools kept it because it gives more kids a chance play and reduces injuries due to fatigue. The pros retained it because by keeping the best and fresher man for the next 'play at all times. It makes for the fastest, most crowd pleasing game.  Yet, the colleges abandoned it.

They must return to it not only for its benefits to the players but also offers the best chance to meet thee ever-increasing popularity challenge of the pro game. Our rules committee either face facts and <

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