by Travis Normand
Last fall (2012), Nick Saban voiced his concern over the fast-paced no-huddle offense. However, Saban is not the only coach to have some thoughts about the no-huddle as Arkansas’ head coach Bret Bielema recently (June 2013) made some comments as well.
Bielema went so far as to actually suggest a potential rule change that would allow a defense to substitute its players during an opposing team’s no-huddle offensive drive. In discussing his idea, Bielema was careful to say that his rule change was more about a defensive players safety than a desire to slow-down, or stop, a fast-paced offense.
Despite Saban’s and/or Bielema’s intention, we now have a debate: Should we institute a rule change that would allow a defense to substitute its players during an offense’s fast-paced no-huddle drive, and potentially run the risk of negating that offense’s entire strategy?
One might argue that the current rule is unfair to a defense (and thus more than fair to an offense). While I can agree that is a valid argument, I do not believe it justifies a rule change.
The current rule on substitutions is basically that if the offense doesn’t substitute, then the defense cannot substitute. This allows an up-tempo offense to run play after play, with little time between each play, and to control if and when the defense can substitute its players.
However, this strategy, employed by many offenses throughout college football, is a strategic advantage found within the current rules. There was no rule change granted to the offensive coordinators of the world in order to give them this advantage.
Having said that, it would make sense that if a defense wants to find a way to stop an up-tempo, fast-paced offense, they must do so within the current confines of the rules as they now stand. The defensive coordinators should not be given a proverbial “12th Man,” or rule change, in order to help them find a way to stop these offensive attacks.
In other words, fair or not, I don’t believe the rules should be changed simply because one side appears to have gained an advantage over the other.
- For more on this particular topic, see Jon Cooper’s article at SaturdayDownSouth.com.