HUNH Legislation Isn't Necessary

I'm not sure what new Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema has against the hurry-up-no-huddle offense, but I do understand what Alabama Coach Nick Saban has against it, and they are not the same things.



Alabama Coach Nick Saban has a reputation of being against the hurry-up-no-huddle (HUNH), but not because he can't stop it. Saban's defense has been the best in the nation over the past few years, and in all probability he will come as close as anyone to devising a plan to control the offense.

Pay close attention to this:

Nick Saban is against the HUNH offense because it does not give the defense a chance to make changes, thus taking coaching out of the game. And his question to college football is: "Is this what you want?"

He hasn't whined, he hasn't lobbied for a rules change. He has been too busy recruiting the type players who can handle the task, whatever it may be.

Under college football rules, if the offense makes a substitution, the defense must be given the opportunity to make a substitution. If the offense is not going to substitute, the defense has to go with a set grouping, usually a 3-3-5 or 4-2-5.

Indeed, the game becomes somewhat vanilla. Players playing fast doesn't mean players playing better.

Bielema said he is concerned about the health of the defensive players, and he would seem to have a point. Although both offense and defense are playing the same number of plays, anyone who knows anything at all about football knows that defenders expend more energy in fending off blocks, covering, and pursuing. Nevertheless, there have been published reports that statistics show teams playing against the HUNH have not had more injuries.

More fake injuries to stop the clock, perhaps.

Before anyone says Saban can's handle it, does anyone seriously believe that Auburn defeated Alabama and also won the 2010 national championship because of the offensive scheme? The obvious investment that year was not in the HUNH, but in the quarterback.

Compare today's situation to what happened to college football in the mid-1960s.

Alabama had great success with the "tackle eligible," particularly when Jerry Duncan, who had come to Bama as a running back and ended up a right tackle, was the receiver.

It was a simple play. If no player was on the line of scrimmage outside the tackle, the tackle was essentially an end and eligible to catch a pass. Alabama Coach Paul Bryant made particular good use of it in the first bowl game that decided the national championship, Alabama vs. Nebraska in the Orange Bowl following the 1965 season. Alabama was a 39-28 winner of that game and took home the national crown.

Alabama had also used the tactic with great success against Ole Miss, and Rebels Coach John Vaught was a member of the NCAA Football Rules Committee. Vaught marshaled his supporters on the committee and had the tackle eligible outlawed.

The tackle eligible was an exciting play, but it should have been easy enough to defend. The only thing the defense had to do was notice that there was no end (tight end or split end) outside the tackle. If there wasn't, the tackle was eligible to receive a pass.

The scheme was advantageous only because opposing defenses did not do what they should have done. That's different than not have the opportunity to do what they should do.

The best way to handle the HUNH is to stop it three-and-out two or three straight possessions and see what that does to the defensive squad of the HUNH team.

That solution is much more satisfying than legislation.