Mike Leach on proposed NCAA rule change: 'I think it's disgusting'

William Mancebo

A rules committee is forwarding a proposal that would make it illegal to snap the ball in the first 10 seconds of the play clock in order to allow defensive substitutions. It's in the name of "player safety." You can guess how WSU's coach reacted to that!

Earlier today, the NCAA announced that it is looking at a couple of proposed rule changes for the upcoming football season. One makes perfect sense: If a targeting ejection is overturned by replay, then the 15-yard penalty also is nullified.

The other makes ... a little less sense!

Under the proposed rule, offenses would be barred from snapping the ball in the first 10 seconds of the play clock in order to allow defenses the time to substitute. Currently, defenses can only substitute if the offense substitutes.

"This rules change is being made to enhance student-athlete safety by guaranteeing a small window for both teams to substitute," said Troy Calhoun, head coach at Air Force and the chairman of the rules committee, in a release by the NCAA. "As the average number of plays per game has increased, this issue has been discussed with greater frequency by the committee in recent years and we felt like it was time to act in the interests of protecting our student-athletes."

My suggestion is rather than spending a bunch of time coming up with a bunch of really stupid rules, spend that time coaching harder. -Mike Leach

This is not a new argument.

"Should we allow football to be a continuous game?" Alabama coach Nick Saban said at SEC Media Days last summer. "Is that the way the game is designed to be played? Is there a safety issue with that? They play 64 plays in the NFL; we play over 80 in college, and up-tempo teams play more than that. I don't know the answer to that."

It sounds like Calhoun and company feel like they do have the answer to that. Only one problem: There's no evidence that fast-paced football poses any greater risk to safety. At this point, everything from doctors is couched in a bunch of "mights."

Which leads Mike Leach, coach of WSU and innovator of the no-huddle Air Raid attack, to one conclusion.

"First off, [I] doubt it will pass," Leach told ESPN's Ted Miller. "Second, it’s ridiculous. All this tinkering is ridiculous. I think it deteriorates the game. It’s always been a game of creativity and strategy. So anytime someone doesn’t want to go back to the drawing board or re-work their solutions to problems, then what they do is to beg for a rule. I think it’s disgusting."

He added: "That's really insulting that they are hiding behind player safety just because somebody wants an advantage. That's crazy."

And more!

"My suggestion is rather than spending a bunch of time coming up with a bunch of really stupid rules, spend that time coaching harder," Leach said. "Worry about your own team and try to make your product better rather than trying to change the game so you don't have to do anything."

Leach wasn't the only coach to put the NCAA on blast, and fans on Twitter gave the proposal a hearty round of ridicule.

After all, how else should one react to a rule where the penalty for snapping the ball too quickly would be ... a delay of game?

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