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Huddle Up: Proposed NCAA Rules To Limit No-Huddle Offenses

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If the NCAA gets its way, all teams will have to huddle up before a play such as the Stanford Cardinal, seen here in this year's Rose Bowl. The league has proposed new substitution rules that will hamper a team's ability to run a no-huddle offense. Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images.
If the NCAA gets its way, all teams will have to huddle up before a play such as the Stanford Cardinal, seen here in this year's Rose Bowl. The league has proposed new substitution rules that will hamper a team's ability to run a no-huddle offense. Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images.

Chip Kelly has jumped to the Philadelphia Eagles and the only one happier than Oregon’s opponents to see the former Ducks head coach gone might just be the NCAA.

You can almost hear college football’s brass: Kelly and his “No-Huddle, No Mercy” offense is the NFL’s problem now.

The NCAA Football Rules Committee has proposed a policy change that essentially drives a stake through the heart of the no-huddle offense — which Kelly and the Ducks recently made chic in the college ranks.

If passed, the new rule allows defenses the first 10 seconds of the 40-second play clock to substitute players in and out. If an offense snaps the ball prior to the 29-second mark, they’re hit with  … wait for it …  a delay of game penalty.

You’re not the only one shaking your head in a confused Scooby Doo manner.

Tweeted University of Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez:

“So I hear the football rule committee wants to slow the game down and make you wait ten seconds to snap—and penalty is delay of game!#wow” — @CoachRodAZ

The Wildcats veteran coach wasn’t done there.

“When you snap the ball has always been a fundamental edge for the offense-what’s next—3 downs like Canada?#LetsGetBoring” — @CoachRodAZ

“Fundamental advantage for defense-pre snap movement-maybe that should be reviewed?#WhoMakesTheseRules” — @CoachRodAZ

Currently, a defense can only substitute if the offense does so first.

The no-huddle offense has a long history of detractors who lived to see the up-tempo style meet its gruesome demise.

Former Bengals coach Sam Wyche shared with ESPN in October a tale about the NFL trying to shut down Cincinnati’s no-huddle offense on the morning of the 1988 AFC Championship game. Wyche claims he threatened to go to the press (and the gamblers) immediately after the game with the conversation he had with the league office, should his team lose to the Buffalo Bills.

The NFL allegedly folded faster than a 40-second clock can expire. The Bengals went on the Super Bowl.

The no-huddle has been a league-wide institution ever since and a staple in the repertoires of some of the game’s greats, including Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers.

Now the NCAA apparently sees an opportunity to huddle their players.

The NCAA rationalized the proposed rules change based upon recommendations from the Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sport (cumbersomely known as the COCSAMAOS).

The league also argued in a statement that “research indicated that teams with fast-paced, no-huddle offense rarely snap the ball with 30 second or more on the play clock.”

But at least they had the option to snap early.

The new rule still has to pass through the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel (NCAA PROP?), which will discuss the proposal in early March.

Judging by the outburst among coaches such as RichRod and Washington State’s Mike Leach, the new rule appears to be about as popular as turf toe.

The league has always struggled to retain its high-powered underclassmen. Hampering the style of those that “want to go fast” seems like the perfect way to drive them into the NFL quicker — and into the open arms of Chip Kelly.

What are your thoughts? Is the NCAA wrong to limit the no-huddle offense or could the game stand to benefit from a leveling of the playing field?