Nick Saban Wants Rule Change That Offsets High Tempo Offenses

Nick Saban Wants Rule Change That Offsets High Tempo Offenses

Change and college football have become synonymous with one another in recent years as the transfer portal, NIL and conference realignment have dominated the discussion around the sport.

Alabama coach Nick Saban sat down with Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger to discuss his thoughts on a number of changes coming to college football.

One topic Saban brought up in the interview was high tempo offense’s and allowing for defense’s to substitute even when the offense does not. The legendary college coach sited safety as the reason a rule change should be made.

“The way it used to be, the [official] would spot the ball and you couldn’t snap the ball [immediately],” Saban told Dellenger. “When a team can snap the ball within seven seconds of the [play] clock, is that really good for player safety? I’m just asking the question. When you are on the defensive side, you can’t even change personnel.”

High tempo offenses are hardly new in college football. Saban fought for rule changes a decade ago that would limit the success of spread offenses and slow down the pace of games. When rule changes didn’t come, Saban adapted as he has for most of his career.

The former Michigan State and LSU coach hired Lane Kiffin as his offensive coordinator at Alabama to implement a spread offense that could take advantage of the ways college football was changing. Even with Kiffin long gone from Tuscaloosa, Alabama has continued to run a spread offense though playing with tempo isn’t one of its main pillars.

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Saban didn’t just complain about up tempo offenses to SI, he suggested a rule change that would limit teams abilities to play with tempo.

“People are going so fast that you can’t catch your breath and can’t substitute anybody,” Saban said. “They could control it a little bit if they say a team makes a first down and then you get an opportunity to sub players on defense. That would be one thing. You can go fast if you want, but if you make a first down, the defense [gets to sub]. Now, if [the defense] doesn’t sub, you can keep going fast.”

There are plenty of teams in the SEC and across the country that lean on tempo but none as many as Tennessee. Playing fast is one of the core pillars of Josh Heupel’s offensive philosophy and has been a key cog in the Vols’ high powered offenses the last two seasons.

While Saban didn’t mention Tennessee or Heupel, it’s easy to draw the comparison especially due to his “snap the ball within seven seconds” comment.

Tennessee’s offense is at its best after it gets its first first down of the drive. Once the Vols have moved the sticks, their tempo takes over and puts more stress on defense.

Alabama and Tennessee meet on the field on Oct. 21 in Tuscaloosa. The Vols are coming off their first win over Alabama since Nick Saban took over in 2007.

Author: Ethan Moore