NCAA to slow Gators' hurry up offense

Get the real inside scoop on the new NCAA rule that will literally slow down Fedora's new up-tempo offense and how it can impact the Gators. Plus thoughts on another new rule allowing officials to announce the jersey number of a player commiting a foul on the field, on the Gators being ranked #10, and an update on Miami.

WHEN Ron Zook switched from Ed Zaunbrecher to Larry Fedora as the Gators offensive coordinator, the Florida Head coach emphasized speeding up the tempo. Faster activity and more snaps on the practice field, and faster activity and more snaps on Saturdays.

Well a not-so-funny thing happened on the way to Florida's fast break offense. The NCAA has created a rule change designed to slow down such offenses, giving the defense more of a chance to get the right personnel into the contest.

On the surface this seems like a well-intentioned, solid idea. The defense should have the right to know who the heck is in the game rather than trying to de-cipher 15-man huddles on the sidelines while only 11 of them are running in for the play. The devil is in the details.

Under the new rules, the umpire (the older guy who always gets in the way of the linebackers) has the authority to hold up the snap until he is convinced the defense has had adequate time to get set. I'm not comfortable with one guy having this authority but so be it, but it gets worse.

According to SEC Associate Commissioner Mark Womack, the game and play clocks will both continue to run while the official "holds up" the snap. Thus we have to very realistic scenarios which could change the outcome of the game:


The Gators have a third and inches at the Tennessee 20 and are stopped short. Florida debates the situation for 15 seconds before Ron Zook sends in more big guys to go for it. As the clock winds down, the Gators race to the line of scrimmage. They're ready but the umpire feels the Vols have not had time to get guys in from the distant sideline. The play clock runs out while the official holds up the play…. The ruling? Delay of game on the offense.


The Gators are down by three late in the game and have third and goal at the Georgia 15 near the Gator sideline. There are only 30 seconds to play. Florida tries for the touchdown, completing a pass, but Dallas Baker is tackled on the two yard line. The Gators race the field goal team onto the field and are set up with the clock running and six seconds left. However the umpire feels Georgia has not time to get defensive replacements on the field. The clock runs out, game over, Georgia wins.

This rule certainly punishes teams who want to speed up the game, but more significantly places the umpire in an impossible predicament in crucial clock situations. At the very least, they should alter the rule to stop both clocks anytime the umpire needs to slow things down. That rule change is inevitable but won't occur until someone gets screwed by the current rule.

I spoke with Ron Zook about this rule last Sunday on my radio program, and as you might expect, he does not like it at all.


One long-desired change I welcome is the announcing of the number of the offending party on penalties. For year's basketball players, baseball players and others have had to endure the indignity of having their miscues revealed, and now football players will have the same thrill. Officials will begin announcing who committed the penalty when they mark it off.

As a broadcaster, I cannot tell you how many times we have looked at replays trying to figure out who might have been called for the infraction, only to zero in on the wrong player(s). Now all observers will have the same ability to watch replays and evaluate the specific call that has been made. Now if I were the player, I would want it the other way. But then again if I were the player, I would have been flat on my back.


Not exactly the type of thing fans generally get excited about this time of year, but the ESPN/USA Today coaches' ranking of the Gators is encouraging for those who expect this team to challenge for the SEC Title. Florida's ranking is based primarily on four factors:

  1. Super sophomores Chris Leak and Channing Crowder
  2. A significantly weakened schedule (Miami/Ole Miss out, Miss St in)
  3. Great wins in '03 over Georgia and LSU and near misses Vs FSU/Miami
  4. Perceived excellent recruiting results the past two years

This is a tricky team to predict. For the first time in my memory, it is every bit as easy to argue for 9 or 10 wins as it is seven. In an upcoming column, I will offer my keys to this team's ultimate success.


Freed Willie, aka: Willie Williams' ideal roommate, Antrel Rolle is back in good graces with the powers that be at Miami after his charges for battery of an officer were dropped. The Assistant State Attorney who dropped the charges credited Rolle's sincere contrition as a major factor in his decision.

Wonder where he'll be sitting for the FSU game?

In another UM note, incoming freshman running back Bobby Washington from Killian High School has been granted his release from his letter of intent. We are trying to confirm a rumor that Miami decided to let him go after their investigation proved he had never been arrested.

Perhaps he just wouldn't fit in.

Thanx for reading, see you next time

Don't forget we can talk sports live Sunday evenings from 6-to-8 on WSKY-FM in Gainesville. Toll Free 877/975-9825… give me a call.

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