Spurrier, Swinney relieved that 10-second rule fails to advance

jkendall@thestate.comMarch 5, 2014 

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier recognizes former quarterback Connor Shaw at halftime of the Gamecocks game against Florida at Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, SC, Tuesday, March 4, 2014.

GERRY MELENDEZ — Gerry Melendez

They don’t always see eye-to-eye, but the state’s most high-profile football coaches agree on a proposed rule that would have slowed down college offenses.

It stinks, South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier and Clemson’s Dabo Swinney believe.

They are relieved that the NCAA Football Rules Committee withdrew the controversial 10-second rule proposal on Wednesday.

After a conference call, it was agreed the so-called 10-second rule would not be given to the 11-member playing rules oversight panel on Thursday for approval.

Spurrier had dubbed the proposal the “Saban Rule” because Alabama coach Nick Saban had been one of its most vocal proponents.

“My thing is where does it stop? Are we going to say if a guy motions across we’re not going to snap the ball until he gets reset?” Swinney said.

The proposal would have forced offenses to wait until 10 seconds run off the play clock before snapping the ball. Saban, and other proponents such as Arkansas coach Bret Bielema, said it’s a safety issue, that limiting the number of snaps would limit the number of injuries in a game.

Opponents say the only thing Saban and Bielema are interested in limiting is the point total put up against their teams. Ninety-three of 127 FBS coaches polled anonymously by ESPN.com were opposed to the change and 25 were in favor of it.

Spurrier called Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, the chairman of the rules committee, when word first came down about the proposal.

“From what I heard, they wanted a lot of people to call and voice their displeasure with it, so I just called and left a voice mail,” Spurrier said.

Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze, who runs a fast-paced offense, told the (Jackson, Miss.) Clarion-Ledger this week that he, Spurrier, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin and Tennessee’s Butch Jones have been the SEC coaches working the hardest to stop the rule change before it gets started.

“We divided up names that we were going to call that we felt like had an interest in this,” Freeze told the newspaper. “We have routinely had a group of us calling the rules committee pretty regularly to continue to stress our opinion of where this is headed.”

Like Freeze, Swinney was skeptical of claims that the proposal is being pushed by player safety.

“Everybody says player safety, but we’re not going to have it in the final two minutes,” Swinney said. “So, we don’t care about them in the final two minutes. It doesn’t make any sense to me. When you’re down three touchdowns with four minutes to go, you want to go.”

Tigers offensive coordinator Chad Morris runs one of the country’s quickest offenses. Clemson ran 1,037 plays last year, the 13th-highest total in the country. South Carolina ran 920 plays, the 60th-highest total in the country.

“The truth of the matter is that it’s not very often when we snap the ball inside those first 10 seconds, but there (are) times when we want to do that,” Swinney said. “I would hate to lose that flexibility. I think that we have a great game. To have to hurry up to sit there and wait to snap the ball I don’t see that as something that should be a part of our game. There’s plenty of time.”

Saban said he didn’t propose solutions to what he views as a problem for college football. He said he offered his opinion and “presented a lot of statistical data that would support the fact that pace of play is creating a lot longer games and a lot more plays in games.”

Spurrier was asked this week if he is troubled by the fact that Saban and Bielema were able to get the proposed change as far into the rules change process as they did.

“I’m not troubled by anything,” he said. “I’m happy we are 11-2 and No. 4 in the country. I’ll worry about next year after spring ball.”

Ed McGranahan and wire services contributed to this article.

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