Over the last 24 hours or so, we here at ODB and the larger SB Nation CFB community have talked quite a bit about the new NCAA proposal to give defenses ten seconds at the beginning of each play clock period in which they are guaranteed the ability to substitute. Under this proposal, if the offense snapped the ball before :29 left on the play clock, they'd actually be penalized for "Delay of Game," a result so paradoxically absurd that only the NCAA would try it. We've moved from outright disdain for the idea, which is clearly directed at limiting hurry-up, no-huddle offenses (shortened to "HUNH"), to, well, outright disdain for the idea.
After looking at just a few games Baylor played this season, it seems clear that what I would call the primary effects of the rule change, preventing offenses from snapping the ball in the first ten seconds of the play clock, probably wouldn't affect Baylor all that much. In the games ODB community members have already looked at, we did so a handful of times, at most. But there is a secondary, probably intentional effect that I think will have a much greater impact. As I mentioned in the comments this morning, I believe strongly that this rules change is not intended simply to give the defense a chance to substitute. Instead, the goal is to slow games down by limiting the number of plays.
Take Baylor as an example since it is the school we know best. Baylor's offense typically responds to the end of one offensive play by lining up immediately for another. This forces the defense to line up against them, showing a bit of its hand and potential alignment, and gives our coaching staff the ability to see what the defense might do. We then either call a new play entirely or make adjustments based on what we've seen. The defense has to line up against us, even if they don't think we will actually snap the ball so quickly and run a play because we might. The threat of the quick snap is just as important as the reality.
Briles told Bruce Feldman yesterday that Baylor's average snap time on the play clock was something around :24 to :26 seconds. From what I've seen, I believe that's true. I'd believe it without having looked, since he has no reason to lie. But that doesn't reflect what we do before the snap, which involves everything I said above. If you take away the threat of the quick snap by making it a penalty, the defense need not fear the quick snap any longer, Baylor doesn't line up as quickly before calling the play, and everything slows down. The essence of our hurry-up offense changes, since we either hurry things up by calling plays in immediately without seeing the defense or we slow it down to do the same thing. That's the real impact of this rule in terms of Baylor.
It's also the reason Briles called it "insane" today in yet another amazing series of quotes to CBS' Dennis Dodds. Instead of this proposal, which Briles says came "out of the blue," Briles would have them actually speed the game up:
"If they're going to change anything in my mind, change it to a 35-second [play] clock," Briles said. "People don't want to come sit in the stands and watch the clock move."
Saban and Bielema, who we found out today weren't just the spiritual inspiration for this proposal but were actually in the room, want to slow the game down. Briles, architect of the nation's best offense in 2013, wants to speed it up. And that is why we love him as we do, among other things.