COLLEGE PARK—When Maryland head coach Randy Edsall heard about a proposition by the NCAA rules committee to change substitution patterns and effectively limit the speed at which a college football team can run its offense, jokingly dubbed the “Saban Rule” by South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier, he was caught off-guard.
The proposed rule, which is currently in a phase with the Playing Rules Oversight Panel where coaches can comment on its viability and value, would bar teams from snapping the ball before 10 seconds have run off the play clock, essentially slowing the up-tempo, no-huddle offenses that have taken root in the college game.
If the offense snapped the ball before the time had run off, it would be assessed a—of all things—delay of game penalty.
“It was kind of a, you know, when I saw that it came out like, ‘Where’d that come from?’” Edsall told the media at a press conference on Friday. “Because that wasn’t anything that we heard of or people really talked about.”
The conversation surrounding the proposition has been overwhelmingly partisan, on one side of the aisle the traditionalists who have rejected up-tempo play, and on the other the new-age adopters who have in many cases thrived by implementing the new system.
Edsall and the Terrapins, stocked with athletes at the skill positions and using a zone-read offense with quarterback C.J. Brown, would fall into the latter category, making the head coach’s response rather predictable.
“You can call it “players safety,” yeah, the more plays you play, the more opportunity there is to have an injury, you know,” he said. “So if they think that’s going to cut down on the number of plays, you know, I don’t know because there’s no data.”
Edsall went on to propose that a rule be implemented that would keep the clock running after a first down, which would effectively eliminate plays while still allowing teams to play up-tempo.
In his eyes, it would be the best of both worlds.
“My thing would be, let the people go as fast as they want to go,” Edsall said, also questioning implementation. “It’s one of those things, I’d like to know how it would be administered … It’ll be interesting to see … what really happens with it.”
The proposition, which has also been called the "10-Second Rule," will be considered by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel on March 6.