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Bret Bielema cites player’s death to support defensive sub rule

Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema has finally had his chance to address the proposed rule that has sparked plenty of controversy since it was first reported. Odds are some of Bielema’s comments will not go over too well.

The NCAA’s Football Rules Committee is proposing a rule that would prevent an offense from snapping the football for ten seconds, to allow defensive substitutions. The initial stated intention for the rule was to focus on player safety, but many have been quick to suggest it is more about slowing down up-tempo offenses. Bielema was in the room when the rule proposal was discussed, although he was on hand as a representative of the American Football Coaches Association of America and not as a committee member. His being in the room though has been perceived to have some say on what was going on. On Thursday night Bielema was asked publicly to comment on the proposal.

Bielema was asked about evidence regarding injuries. His answer: “Death certificates,” referencing the death of a Cal football player.

— Troy Schulte (@TroySchulteADG) February 21, 2014

Earlier this month Cal defensive end Ted Agu collapsed during a conditioning run and died at a local hospital. If Bielema is attempting to make a point about player safety in a game, referencing a tragedy off the playing field may not be the best way to go about addressing a concern. still, Bielema’s focus on player safety should not be overlooked. This is juts a poor way of doing it.Perhaps not surprisingly, Bielema also said he could not care less about how people perceive him and his opinions.
Bielema said opponents of the rule change are “turning a blind eye to the fact,” of injury risks. — Troy Schulte (@TroySchulteADG) February 21, 2014

Was asked about perception that the change is from ‘sour grapes’ by coaches who don’t hurry up. “Don’t bother me in any way shape or form.”

— Troy Schulte (@TroySchulteADG) February 21, 2014

There is no arguing that there are a number of risks to football players every time they take the field. Would slowing down the snap pace make that much of a difference? Maybe to some extent, but the concrete data has yet to be shared to suggest it would. It is easy for a coach to suggest that fewer plays will decrease the chances a player gets hurt. That is just simple number crunching. Fewer plays means fewer opportunities to get hurt.

But pointing out a player falling to his death in practice in February? That’s not the best way to make your case.

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