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UNC’s Larry Fedora, Duke’s David Cutcliffe oppose NCAA proposal limiting football tempo

By Andrew Carter
acarter@newsobserver.com
UNC coach Larry Fedora
Robert Willett - rwillett@newsobserver.com
UNC coach Larry Fedora questions a penalty against the Tar Heels in the fourth quarter against Duke on Saturday November 30, 2013 at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill, N.C.

CHAPEL HILL North Carolina coach Larry Fedora is strongly opposed to a proposed NCAA rule change that would slow down college football offenses, and he called it “absurd” that the proposal is being made in the name of player safety.

“I think they are questioning our intelligence with trying to push this under player safety,” Fedora said Friday during a phone interview with The News & Observer. “Because I have not seen any evidence, one way or another, that because of the tempo of play that more people are getting injured.”

Duke coach David Cutcliffe in a teleconference on Friday also spoke out against the proposed change. The NCAA football rules committee this week recommended a change that would allow defenses to substitute during the first 10 seconds of the play clock. In that case, offenses wouldn’t be allowed to begin a play until the play clock reached 29 seconds.

As it stands now, offenses can snap the ball as quickly as they want and defenses are only allowed to substitute if the offense substitutes first. Some coaches, like Alabama’s Nick Saban, have criticized up-tempo offenses and have said they are more dangerous for players.

The rules committee backed that assertion.

“This rules change is being made to enhance student-athlete safety by guaranteeing a small window for both teams to substitute,” Troy Calhoun, Air Force coach and rules committee member, said in a statement. “As the average number of plays per game has increased, this issue has been discussed with greater frequency by the committee in recent years and we felt like it was time to act in the interests of protecting our student-athletes.”

According to ESPN.com, Saban, who is not a member of the rules committee, met with its members and voiced his support for the rules change. So did Arkansas coach Bret Bielema, ESPN.com reported. Alabama and Arkansas run more methodical offenses, and both ranked among the slowest-paced teams in the nation.

The proposed change, along with another one that would eliminate a 15-yard penalty for targeting if a player’s ejection isn’t upheld by instant replay, will be discussed March 6 by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel. Fedora said he was “worried” about the proposal.

Staff writer Laura Keeley contributed to this report. Carter: 919-829-8944; Twitter: @_andrewcarter
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