Football.com - everything football

Pac-12 Proposed Rule Change Is "Ridiculous"

By



Pac-12 teams like the USC Trojans could lose their strategic edge if the Playing Rules Oversight Committee decides to pass the new rule on Thursday. Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images.
Pac-12 teams like the USC Trojans could lose their strategic edge if the Playing Rules Oversight Committee decides to pass the new rule on Thursday. Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images.

March 6, 2014. The Playing Rules Oversight Committee will have the power to change the way offenses are schemed. Earlier this month, a proposal was introduced for a new rule to be implemented. The proposed rule (if approved) will prohibit offenses from snapping the football into action until 29 seconds or fewer remain on the 40-second play clock. 

"First off, I doubt it'll pass," Washington State head coach Mike Leach said during an interview with ESPN.com. "Second it’s ridiculous. All this tinkering is ridiculous. I think it deteriorates the game."

The proposed rule carries a wide range of reasoning: player safety, giving defenses adequate time to adjust and substitute players, and allegations that some coaches aren’t able to keep up with such high-octane offenses. Whatever the real reason is, it could impact the Pac-12 teams deeply. In 2013, seven Pac-12 teams (Stanford, Arizona, Oregon State, Washington, UCLA, Arizona State, and Oregon) ranked in the Top 50 in scoring offense.

As of right now, if UCLA center Jake Brendel placed the ball into the hands of quarterback Brett Hundley immediately after the officials get set, there would be no penalty. If the rule passes, UCLA would suffer a five-yard penalty.  

"It’s always been a game of creativity and strategy," Leach said. "So anytime someone doesn’t want to go back to the drawing board or rework their solutions to problems, they beg for a rule.” 

Oregon ranked third with 43.8 points per game scored. In the Ducks’ case, the points piled high due to their 60-minute version of a two-minute drill offense. Their no-huddle style of play forces the opposing defense to align/re-align quickly, substitute on the fly, and be caught out of position or off guard. This strategy led to them averaging 7.2 yards per play last season.

On the other hand, a team like Cal, under former head coach Jeff Tedford, ran a more traditional west coast offense — where quarterbacks use a barrage of intermediate and short passes and slowly progress down the field. Last season, Cal ranked third overall in plays per game with an average of 88.7 plays. Now the Golden Bears will be running the much faster paced offense first-year coach Sonny Dykes ran at Louisiana Tech. 

So what’s the point of these statistics? To show that the Pac-12 is becoming (if it already hasn’t become) the West Coast version of the shotgun-running, quick-read processing Big 12. While teams like Stanford and Southern Cal do run pro-style offenses, they are “old-fashioned.”

This rule, if implemented, is the equivalent of basketball abolishing fast breaks. While it would give teams more snaps, it’s taking away the fast offense philosophy of "less is more." Fewer plays mean better rested players and an added dimension in scoring on an opponent. In a nutshell, coaches will devise schemes around a rule rather than their opponents.