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NCAA proposes rule change to allow time for defensive substitutions

(The Denver Post via Getty Images)Air Force coach Troy Calhoun is chairman of the NCAA Football Rules Committee. (The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Have we seen the end of hurry-up offenses in college football? If the NCAA gets its way, that might be the case.

The NCAA Football Rules Committee announced on Wednesday that it has proposed a rule change to allow time for defensive substitutions within the first 10 seconds of the regular 40-second play clock, regardless of whether or not the offense substitutes. Offenses would not be allowed to snap the ball until at least the 29-second mark of the play clock under this proposal. The rule would not apply during the final two minutes of a half.

If an offense snapped the ball before the 29-second mark, a five-yard delay-of-game penalty would be assessed. The proposal must be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel but could be implemented for the 2014 season.

Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun, the chair of the committee, said the focus of the new proposal is safety.

“This rules change is being made to enhance student-athlete safety by guaranteeing a small window for both teams to substitute,” said Calhoun. “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.”

Current rules dictate that defensive players are not guaranteed a chance to substitute unless the offense substitutes first.

Hurry-up offenses have caused concern for some coaches who feature traditional offenses. Alabama's Nick Saban and Arkansas' Bret Bielema are among the handful of coaches who have been critical of the fast-paced style, claiming that it puts defensive players at a higher risk of injury because of a lack of substitution time. According to a July 2013 story by SI.com's Stewart Mandel, researchers agreed that while that theory might be true, at the time not enough data existed to support rule changes.

Additionally, the NCAA suggested that a targeting penalty overturned on review should not result in a 15-yard penalty assessed to the offending team.

The committee recommended that if the instant replay official rules that a disqualification should not have occurred, and if the targeting foul is not accompanied by another personal foul, the 15-yard penalty for targeting should not be enforced.
During the 2013 season, officials enforced the 15-yard penalty even if the foul was overturned.

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