Notre Dame's Brian Kelly not in favor of 10-second rule

Notre Dame's Brian Kelly not in favor of 10-second rule
March 5, 2014, 11:15 am
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Count Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly among those against the proposed 10-second rule that'll be voted on by the NCAA's Playing Rules Oversight Committee on Thursday. (UPDATE: Per ESPN's Brett McMurphy, the proposal has been tabled and will not be voted on Thursday.)

The proposed rule would enforce a five-yard penalty if an offense snaps the ball in the first 10 seconds of the 40-second play clock, and was pitched in the name of player safety. But it's experienced a massive backlash from coaches accusing it of attempting to rid the game of hurry-up offenses.

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It's been backed by Arkansas' Bret Bielema and Alabama's Nick Saban, coaches who have spoken out against fast-paced offenses in the past. But Auburn's Gus Malzahn, Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy and Arizona's Rich Rodriguez (who starred in a "Speed" parody skewering the proposed rule) have led the charge against it, while other coaches -- Kelly included -- didn't think there's evidence the proposed rule would do anything to improve player safety.

"When I was in the head coach's meeting at the AFCA conference in Indianapolis, it was pretty clear that when rules were talked about, they were talked about with an emphasis this year about player safety," Kelly said. "And then this rule was brought up as a point of emphasis for player safety and there was nothing attached to it with player safety. It was just a ten‑second rule and it's about player safety.

"So I would not be in favor of it if you can't show me that there's no data that goes to the heart of player safety.  And so that's kind of where I stand on it. So I did not vote for it, because it did not have any data attached to for me to be able to say, I'm in favor of it because of that."

While there's no hard data to show that preventing teams from snapping the ball within 10 seconds of the play clock starting would help curb injuries at the college level, Saban told ESPN.com this week that, logically, slowing down the pace of a game would keep players from getting hurt.

"What’s the logic? If you smoke one cigarette, do you have the same chances of getting cancer if you smoke 20? I guess there’s no study that specifically says that," Saban said. "But logically, we would say, ‘Yeah, there probably is.’”

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The analogy may not help Saban's case -- just like Bielema pointing to the death of a Cal football player hurt his case, too. While coaches recognize the importance of player safety, for a rule as drastic as the 10-second penalty to go through there has to be more than logic at which to point.

"You'd have to show me data that if this is about player safety -- I haven't seen any data that really goes to the heart of that," Kelly said. "If there was compelling data, then I could probably intelligently answer or vote for it one way or the other."