Tag Archive | Alabama

NCAA Proposes to Slow Down College Football Offenses

By Nick Vespasiano

The NCAA has proposed a new rule that would prevent the offense from snapping the ball for the first 10 seconds of the play clock. With offenses running more plays than ever before, the NCAA Football Rules Committee believes giving defensive players time to substitute would improve player safety.

A February 12th press release on NCAA.org, “The committee believes that 10 seconds provides sufficient time for defensive player substitutions without inhibiting the ability of an offense to play at a fast pace…This rules proposal also aligns with a request from the Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports that sport rules committees review substitution rules in regards to player safety.”

If the offense snaps the ball before the 10 seconds they receive a five-yard delay-of-game penalty. The rule would not be in effect the last two minutes of each half. Some head coaches have voiced their opinions.

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy expressed his opinion February 13th on twitter, “The no huddle, fast tempo style has changed the game of CFB. Our sport has exploded in popularity with high scoring games & packed stadiums.” A relevant point when college football attendance is on the decline. A recent article on ESPN.com by Darren Rovell reported “attendance for FBS schools dropping below 46,000 per game for the past five seasons.” (http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/10458047/next-generation-ticket-holder-concern-students-show-college-football-games). These fast offenses are fun to watch but this rule change could hurt the already dropping attendance numbers.

Alabama coach Nick Saban was present at the Rules Committee meeting where this rule was introduced. Saban sounded off two seasons ago  about a need for a rules change in an October 3rd , 2012 teleconference: “I think that the way people are going no-huddle right now, that at some point in time, we should look at how fast we allow the game to go in terms of player safety. The team gets in the same formation group, you can’t substitute defensive players…That’s when guys have a much greater chance of getting hurt when they’re not ready to play.”

Alabama's Nick Saban is one coach who would not like to see the new rule put into place (Via AP)

Alabama’s Nick Saban is one coach who would not like to see the new rule put into place (Via AP)

Alabama’s only losses in the regular season came against Texas A&M and Auburn, two of the country’s best up-tempo offenses. Oklahoma also used some no-huddle offense to their advantage in their 45-31 defeat of the Tide in the Sugar Bowl. The no-huddle can clearly work against Alabama. Many people, myself included, think Saban wants this rule change so his defenses can continue dominate.

Some Saban-style teams, however, have managed success in stopping face paced offenses. Stanford, a team known for its slow, ground-and-pound offense held Oregon and UCLA to 20 and 10 points respectively. They also beat Arizona State twice, another team with a solid no-huddle attack. Michigan State, for example, held Ohio State’s fast paced offense to its lowest point total of the season in the Big 10 Championship Game.

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn has been outspoken against the rule change, stating in a press conference,“there’s absolutely zero evidence, documented evidence, that is hazardous on the pace of play, only opinions.” He also pointed out the rule change would make it more difficult for a team to come back late in the game.

NCAA national coordinator of officiating, Rogers Redding told CBSsports.com on February 13th, “I think it’s fair to say there’s not really much hard data on this.”

A website cfbmatrix.com has been putting together data on pace of play and its effect on injuries. His data reflected the Big 12 conference ran the most plays of the five BCS conferences between 2009-12 and had the fewest “starts lost to injury” of the five conferences. Alabama lost 30 starts to injury from 2010-12 despite being in the bottom 10 of plays run per game. Compare that with Oregon which lost only 18 starts between 2009-10. The most glaring stat of all though was in 2012, the top 15 teams in plays-per-game had eight less “starts lost to injury” than the 15 slowest teams.

To become official, this rule will have to pass the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel on March 6. Hopefully the panel makes their decision based on the evidence.

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Nick Vespasiano is a senior English major at St. Olaf College and aspiring sports writer. He was raised in Minnesota, favorite teams are the Vikings, Wild, and Twins. Favorite athletes are Randy Moss and Jaromír Jágr.

Baylor and Ohio State: Who Deserves Third Place?

By Nick Vespasiano

Every year, as the college football season enters its final weeks, I’ll catch myself hoping that any there are no undefeated teams outside of the top two. It’s like I want the BCS rankings to make sense rather than be forced to trust that the right two teams are playing for the National Championship. Then I remember, as frustrating as it is to see an undefeated team not get the chance they deserve, it’s situations like these that forced college football to change its current format. If the rankings end up with  “too many” undefeated teams this year, I will be thankful that starting next season the BCS will be replaced with the College Football Playoff, where the nation’s top four teams will get their chance.

With Louisville, Missouri, Oregon, Stanford all managing to slip up after high pre-season rankings and undefeated starts, only two undefeated teams remain on the outside looking in. At this point in the season, at 10-0 and 9-0 respectively, Ohio State and Baylor are both in the ambiguous situation where winning out is their only option but it might not matter in the end. Alabama could lose its 11/30 game at sixth-ranked Auburn and FSU quarterback Jameis Winston’s season (and freedom) could be in jeopardy. Which one deserves to move up if Alabama or Florida State goes down? Right now the BCS rankings say Ohio State but that hasn’t hindered any national debate.

Braxton Miler has led the Buckeyes to a 10-0 start (Via Queen City Sports)

Braxton Miler has led the Buckeyes to a 10-0 start (Via Queen City Sports)

Both of these teams have elite offenses. Led by quarterback Braxton Miller and running back Carlos Hyde, the Buckeyes rank fourth nationally in points per game. Miller, Hyde, and senior Jordan Hall have combined for over 2,000 rushing yards this season. Miller, however, has passed for an underwhelming 1,466 yards. As for Baylor’s offense, it’s averaging 61.2 points per game and 684.9 yards per game, both best in the country. Quarterback Bryce Petty is having a Heisman caliber season, completing 65 percent of his passes for 2,992 yards, 24 touchdowns and still just one interception. Running backs Lache Seastrunk and Shock Linwood have amassed 1,700 yards together this season and Linwood has really stepped up in relief of the still injured Seastrunk. I have to give the edge on offense to Baylor because of their more balanced attack. Any defense would be more confident loading the box and challenging Ohio State to pass than doing so against Baylor. Petty will beat you with his arm and when he can’t, he has a talented backfield to pick up the slack. Ohio State’s offense is much more one-dimensional than Baylor’s.

Ohio State ranks thirteenth in the country in points allowed per game while Baylor sits at seventh. Both teams have decent defenses, but the lack of points against speaks to how dominating the offense is when on the field. Neither defense is very consistent but Ohio State’s is the least consistent of the two. After shutting out Purdue on November 2, they gave up 35 points to a 3-7 Illinois. They allowed 34 points to a 1-10 Cal, and then two weeks later, held a great Wisconsin offense to its second lowest points of the season with 24. Baylor’s defense not only has the edge in consistency but also the luxury of the best offense in the country (and possibly of all time) to take off some of the pressure. Baylor’s defense also plays against Big 12 offenses the likes of which Ohio State does not. Baylor’s defense wins this one too.

When looking at each team’s schedule, they appear even for the most part. Ohio State’s best game was a 31-24 win against now 19th ranked Wisconsin on September 28. Baylor’s came later against the 10th ranked (now 20th) Oklahoma Sooners by a lopsided score of 41-12. Both teams played the University of Buffalo early this season at their respective home fields. Baylor won 70-13 and OSU won 40-20, but we already knew Baylor’s offense was better. Ohio State’s opponents’ combined record is 46-56; Baylor’s is 46-46. The remaining opponents records, provided OSU plays Michigan State for the Big Ten title, are 20-10 for The Buckeyes, 19-11 for Baylor’s. With such equal schedules, the edge goes to Ohio State with the better signature win over Wisconsin.

Baylor deserves to take on Alabama or Florida State should one of them lose. The Bears have done more with a resume that is on par with Ohio State’s. This could all be for nothing if ‘Bama and FSU win out. That will all change next season with the new format where both Baylor and OSU would control their own destinies.

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Nick Vespasiano is a senior English major at St. Olaf College and aspiring sports writer. He was raised in Minnesota, favorite teams are the Vikings, Wild, and Twins. Favorite athletes are Randy Moss and Jaromír Jágr.