College Football Considers Slowing Down Tempo and Tweaking the Targeting Rule

I got your back, Bert... - John David Mercer-USA TODAY Spor

The NCAA's college football rules committee has proposed modifying the targeting rule, and more controversially, force offenses to wait at least ten seconds between plays to allow defenses a chance to substitute. That latter proposal is the most controversial, as advocates of the hurry-up fast-paced offenses are up in arms over this change.

The rules change was proposed in the name of "athlete safety", which probably isn't the best justification since this rule doesn't apply in the last two minutes of each half. (If it's truly "player safety", then why not keep the rule in effect for the full 60 minutes of the game?) Of course, Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy is just as guilty of grasping at straws when he talks about "packed stadiums" when attendance is actually dropping.

The proposal apparently originated with Alabama's Nick Saban and Arkansas' Bret Bielema, two defensive minded coaches whose teams have typically run more traditionally paced offenses. That, in turn, has led up-tempo coaches to complain that coaches like Saban are trying to change the rules because they can't innovate a solution to fast paced offenses.

That's more bluster because it's extremely rare for teams to snap the ball within 10 seconds of the previous snap. The rules committee looked at two games between fast-tempo teams, and found only one snap in each game that would have been affected by the new rule.

So what would Bo Pelini think about this rule? Pelini has been a critic of up-tempo offenses trying to prevent him from matching their substitutions, but offensive coordinator Tim Beck has been known to run an up-tempo attack himself.

It sounds like this rule may not make it through a vote by the NCAA Oversight Panel on March 6th. I wouldn't be surprised, though, if another solution isn't proposed as an alternative. It might be as simple as giving coaches an extra timeout (perhaps only a :15 second timeout) to get substitutes onto the field.

To me, the real news in the rules change proposal is a change to the targeting rule. Targeting penalties are now subject to review through instant replay - not just the ejection. This past season, when a targeting penalty is called, the ejection gets reviewed, and if the review shows the call wasn't correct, the ejection was overturned, but the penalty was still enforced. Moving forward, if the review shows that the hit was legal and was not part of another penalty, the penalty would be overturned as well. So if a defender hits a quarterback high but also well after releasing the ball, a targeting ejection could be overturned, but the roughing the passer call would not.

So what do you think? Are you ready to tweak the targeting rule? And do we need to slow down the up-tempo offenses just a smidge?

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