Steve Spurrier speaks out against NCAA's 'Saban Rule'

Dave Martin / Associated Press
Georgia's Mark Richt is among several coaches who have spoken out against the NCAA's defensive substitution rule.

South Carolina's Steve Spurrier is the latest coach to comment on the NCAA's proposed defensive substitution rule -- except he has a different name for it.

He calls it the "Saban Rule."

Alabama's Nick Saban and Arkansas' Bret Bielema have been the most vocal coaches nationally about the substitution issues caused by no-huddle, hurry-up offenses. Last week, the NCAA's Football Rules Committee recommended a rules change related to defensive substitutions: Basically, an offense will not be allowed to snap the ball with more than 29 seconds on the play clock. The proposed rule says a defense must be allowed to substitute within the first 10 seconds of the 40-second play clock, with the exception of the final two minutes of each half. If the ball is snapped with more than 29 seconds on the play clock, a 5-yard delay-of-game penalty will be assessed.

Under current rules, defenses are not guaranteed an opportunity to substitute unless the offense substitutes first. That part of the rule will remain in place in scenarios where the play clock starts at 25 seconds.

In an interview Thursday with USA Today, Spurrier said, "So, you want to talk about the 'Saban Rule'? That's what I call it. [It] looks like it's dead now, hopefully."

Georgia's Mark Richt also spoke out against the proposal Thursday.

"I feel like if you can train offensive players to play five or six plays in a row, you can train defensive players to play that many plays in a row, too," Richt told the Athens Banner-Herald. "I personally don't think it's a health-issue deal, but if there's some evidence otherwise, it will be interesting to see it."

Other coaches who have spoken out against the proposal include Auburn's Gus Malzahn, Washington State's Mike Leach, Arizona's Rich Rodriguez, Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin and Baylor's Art Briles, who called the proposal "insane."

Air Force coach Troy Calhoun is chairman of the rules committee, but even he seems to think the rule isn't going to pass. On a conference call earlier this week, he said the proposal should not become a rule unless data shows increased injury risk. That, of course, begs the question as to why the proposal was even put forth at all.

Rogers Redding, the NCAA's coordinator of officiating, last week told CBSSports.com that, "I think it's fair to say there's not really much hard data on this."

Spurrier told USA Today that he called Calhoun and left a voicemail.

"I just told him I was against it," Spurrier said. "It's ridiculous."

The proposal must be approved by the 11-member Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which meets March 6. A majority vote of those 11 members is needed for the proposal to pass. But given that even the chairman of the rules committee evidently now doesn't see a reason for the rule to exist, expect the proposal to be voted down.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.