Proposed substitution rule faces challenge

Not so fast on the proposed college football rule change to allow a 10-second defensive substitution rule to slow down the game in the name of safety.

Air Force coach Troy Calhoun, chairman of the NCAA Football Rules Committee, acknowledged this week that more data are needed before the Playing Rules Oversight Commission approves the committee's recommendation.

"I think the only way it can or it should become a rule is if indeed it is a safety concern," Calhoun said, according to Yahoo Sports. "And that can't be something that is a speculation or a possibility. I think there's got to be something empirical there, where you realize, yes, this truly is a health matter in the terms of not being able to get a defensive player off the field."

Calhoun backed away from his comments last week when he said the change was needed to protect players. If the rule passes, offenses would be prevented from snapping the ball within 10 seconds after the 40-second play clock resets, giving defenses more time to make substitutions.

"As the average number of plays per game has increased, this issue has been discussed with greater frequency by the committee in recent years and we felt like it was time to act in the interests of protecting our student-athletes," Calhoun had said on Feb. 12.

Many coaches subsequently reacted with disdain, particularly those whose teams run up-tempo offenses, saying there was no valid evidence to support the claim that such a move would protect the players from potential health risks.

"There's absolutely zero documented evidence that is hazardous on the pace of play, only opinions," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said Tuesday.

"It's just a complete rule change. It would change the dynamics of traditional football in a lot more ways than anyone would think, not just if you get behind by a couple touchdowns and it's late in the game and you couldn't properly come back, but the way you'd coach your quarterbacks. It would just change the dynamics of football."

Alabama coach Nick Saban and Arkansas coach Bret Bielema were supportive of the measure in the name of safety and, according to reports, spoke before the committee last week.

The comment period on the proposed rule ends March 3. The committee then will vote for or against the change on March 6.

"I think what you learn, especially after going through this, is I think you need to have more and more coaches involved in terms of possibilities," Calhoun said. "Probably the other thing too is just, if it really is a safety matter, to have more medical people present too."

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