Alabama's Nick Saban: Not my rule

Anniston StarMarch 5, 2014 

Signing Day-Alabama

File photoAlabama coach Nick Saban said his defense didn't need an advantage.

VASHA HUNT — AP

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama coach Nick Saban wants everyone to know that if they have any questions about his thoughts or concerns on college football's pace of play, they should just ask.

The "10-second rule" has been the most debated topic this offseason and along the way, Saban has become the face of the movement.

According to Saban, it's not his fault. Saban said he was brought in by the NCAA's College Football Rules Committee. Saban and Arkansas coach Bret Bielma attended the meeting.

ESPN.com reported Wednesday afternoon that the committee has withdrawn the proposal before the Playing Rules Oversight Panel had a chance to consider it Thursday.

"Look, I had nothing to do with the 10-second rule," Saban said Wednesday during a meeting with Crimson Tide beat reporters, in which he covered a variety of topics. "I was asked by the rules committee and the officials to come and speak to the rules committee relative to pace of play. Were there player-safety issues involved in that and is there a game-administrative problem with that? So I went and did that. I didn't vote on the committee. I didn't offer any solutions to the problems.

"I just gave my opinion, but presented a lot statistical data that would support the fact that pace of play is creating a lot longer games and a lot more plays in games."

The panel generally only hears proposals on rule changes every other year unless there is a player-safety issue component added to it.

Along with player safety issues, another one of Saban's points has been the lack of control officials have when it comes to the pace of the game. When teams go fast, officials have a tougher time to get set which could lead to missed calls and other problems.

Saban has suggested college football should allow officials to control the pace of play, as they do in the NFL.

"In the NFL, all the official does is stand over the ball until the officials are ready to call the game," Saban said. "That's all they do. Saying all that to say this, the reason that they came up with the 10-second rule, which I had nothing to do with, was the fact that they used to stand over the ball for 10 to 12 seconds when we had the 25-second clock. … So they figured, why not do the same with the 40-second clock. And when they actually studied the no-huddle teams, they only snapped the ball an average of four times a game inside of 10 seconds."

Still, Saban said it is a competitive advantage for the teams who play fast, but also said he understands why coaches who run those types of offenses want to continue to do it.

"You're not really affecting how they play, but what keeps you from being able to ever take a defensive player out, whether he's hurt, pre-existing condition, whatever it is, is the fact that they might snap the ball," Saban said. "So you can't do anything. You've got to call timeout to get a guy out. And if you tell a guy to get down, that's really against the rules, and they boo him out of the park."

Despite facing more up-tempo offenses, Alabama has remained among the country's top-ranked defenses. During its 2011 and 2012 national championship seasons, the Tide finished first in the nation in total defense and scoring defense.

Last season, Alabama ranked No. 5 in the nation and first in the SEC in total defense, allowing 286.5 yards a game. The Tide ranked fourth in the country and No. 1 in the SEC in scoring defense.

"For all of you out there that know what I'm thinking and the fact that I'm trying to create an advantage for the defense," Saban said, "I'm not trying to create an advantage for the defense. I don't even think we need an advantage. Why do we need an advantage? If you look at the statistics, we've been playing better than most."

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