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Arizona A.D. Greg Byrne: Proposed NCAA rule would be ‘unfair’

LISTEN: Greg Byrne, UA Athletic Director

Greg Byrne would like the NCAA to slow down before it tries to slow football games down.

A guest of the Doug and Wolf Show on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM as part of Newsmakers Week Friday, the University of Arizona’s Director of Athletics said a proposed new rule that would make snapping the ball with more than 29 seconds remaining on the play clock a delay of game penalty came as a shock to most.

“Wednesday, Rich (Rodriguez) calls me on my cell phone, which that happens all the time, and he says, ‘Hey, do you know about this rule,’ and I said, ‘What rule,’ and he walked me through it,” Byrne said. “And I said ‘Man, I hadn’t heard a thing about it.'”

Byrne added that Rodriguez, who runs a fast-paced offense that would conceivably be affected by the rule, said he and other coaches hadn’t heard anything about it either.

“He said, ‘I’m going to start tweeting about it,’ and I said ‘Go for it, sounds good to me,'” Byrne said.

The result:

Needless to say Rodriguez is not happy about the idea, which still has a ways to go before it becomes a rule.

Byrne pointed out that Rodriguez is the “grandfather” of the offensive style, which he has been running for years.

“To take away one of what his strengths are and how he’s been able to build his teams and have a lot of success, boy I think that would be unfair.”

The NCAA’s playing rules oversight panel will now discuss the proposal — as well as any other — on March 6.

Byrne said he emailed his thoughts on the matter to Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott, who is on the oversight panel, and was told he will offer every school in the conference a chance to give feedback on the proposal.

“In our conference, probably 10 or 11 of the 12 will be against it I would think,” he said. “I certainly hope it’s not something that becomes a reality, but it’s certainly a lot closer than it was a couple days ago.”

And that’s not a good thing, even if, as Byrne believes, this won’t be passed without some resistance and debate. Proponents of the slowed-down pace cite player safety, though Byrne and others have said there is little evidence that says the faster tempo leads to more injuries.

“We always have to be thinking about how do we continue to make ourselves better,” he said. “As a program, coaches do that all the time and you want your students to have the same mentality.

“A couple coaches got together and said ‘We think this makes us better,’ and maybe they thought this would happen quietly, but obviously that’s not happening.”

But how does something seemingly so controversial even get this far?

Byrne noted that something like this could happen sort of behind the scenes because athletic directors and coaches are pulled in many different directions, not always able to keep track of everything that is being proposed.

“And so I think when you have the rules committees getting together, there may be something on the agenda, but you’d think somewhere, somebody’s radar would go off and say, ‘You know what, this is kind of a big deal’ and make us aware before a vote goes through,” he said. “And I understand each coach is going to have things they’re passionate about and they want to see, but what Rich Rodriguez has said, what Mike Gundy has said, the game of college football right now is pretty darn exciting.”

Byrne said schools face the challenge of getting people to the games instead of just watching them on TV, but either way, people are clearly interested in the sport.

“Let’s not throw a wrench in the middle of the whole thing.”