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Mike Leach swings his sword on defensive substitution rule proposal


Mike Leach, never one to shy away from an opinion, is not a fan of a proposed rule. Photo: USA Today Sports

If you have not figured it out yet, a number of college football coaches are not exactly a fan of the defensive rule proposal up for consideration at the recommendation of the NCAA's Football Rules Committee. The proposed rule change would prevent any offense from snapping the football until the play clock hits 29 seconds, with the first 10 seconds being reserved for the defense to make substitutions. Any team snapping the football before the 29-second mark on the play clock would be penalized five yards for a delay of game, if this proposal becomes an approved rule change. The committee stressed the focus on player safety, but nobody is really buying that argument. This is all designed to level the playing field for the defenses that have struggled to slow down up-tempo offenses and the trend that is spreading throughout the college game.

Washington State head coach Mike Leach went off on the proposed rule during a radio interview on WJOX in Birmingham, Alabama, and it was certainly entertaining to listen to.

"It's one of the most mind-numbingly dumb suggestions that I've ever heard and what makes this one even more reprehensible is the fact that it is so transparently self-serving," Leach said. And he was just warming up.

"It's a reaction to the success of Auburn and Texas A&M, clearly, so rather than innovate defensively and respond defensively… and rather than adapt our teams it's like we're gonna invent a rule," Leach said. "But in order to invent a rule you have to have a reason to invent a rule, so then they're going to try and hide behind player safety in order to do it." 

Leach went on to proposes three rules he felt would enhance player safety, obviously mocking the defense of player safety as a priority focus for the proposed rule. They were:

1. Don't allow defenses to blitz

2. A defense is never allowed to bring more players than an offense has to block

3. You are not allowed to hit the quarterback.

At one point during the end of the interview Leach said this defensive substitution rule proposed would rival the halo rule for absurdity, if it happens to pass. Leach doubts it will pass, and that seems to be a common feeling by coaches, media and fans. The support for this rule just does not appear to be coming from many places outside of Tuscaloosa.

Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez and Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy each took to Twitter in recent days to voice their opinions to the proposal. As offensive minded coaches, it was no surprise to see either coach have a negative reaction to the proposal.

These coaches have some valid points. If passed, this rule would change the way the game is played. As we discussed in the Google hangout yesterday, this rule proposal is far from perfect, but the idea of leveling the playing field for the defense is not a terrible concept to work with. Perhaps some modifications to the rule could be made as a compromise. One idea mentioned in our hangout was to allow for the rule as written to be enforced, but only on first downs.

Defense is still a part of the game, and it is on the coaches to adapt to the way the game is being played to find ways to slow down what offenses are doing. If the game is getting faster from an offensive perspective, then it is the responsibility of defensive coaches to modify what they are doing in order to slow down the success rate of what offensive coaches have been doing. Modifying the rules in order to make a more competitive game sometimes needs to happen. This is why rules are changed over time, but this proposed rule certainly does not appear to be a real solution to any problem.

If you have some time, you really should listen to the full radio interview with Leach.

Now that you have had a few days to let this proposed rule sink in, what is your reaction to it? Are offensive-minded coaches going overboard with their reaction or are they justified in their disdain for the proposal?

Kevin McGuire is the managing editor of Crystal Ball Run. Follow him on TwitterFacebook and Google+.

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Kevin McGuire

About Kevin McGuire

Contributor to College Football Talk on NBCSports.com. Member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. College Football Hall of Fame voter. Also managing Bloguin's NittanyLionsDen.com and Macho-Row.com.

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