COACH SPEAK : WEEK 2
By Leo Haggerty

Week 2 of COACH SPEAK will again feature head honchos from the AAC and the Big 12.  I am still trying to effort a way to procure coaches from the other conferences.  It does help that, for the last three years, I was a weekly attendee to all of the Power 6 Conferences (yes, the American Athletic Conference has earned the right to join that club) Football Coaches Teleconference.

With that being said, here are the two questions that I asked of the leaders of their respective programs.  As usual, the two queries are ALWAYS football related and here they are:

Q1 : What rules change this year, if any, has effected you team the most this season?

Q2 : Almost every football program runs some sort of RPO (Run Pass Option) sequence.  The rules now allow lineman to go downfield three-yards on a pass play.  Are you OK with that or does that rule need to be modified?

Our guest contributors this week are the following:

Kansas HC Les Miles
Oklahoma HC Lincoln Riley
Cincinnati HC Luke Fickell
South Florida HC Charlie Strong

A lot of really interesting as well as diverse opinions on these two subjects.  Enjoy.

Q1

LM : Certainly, there’s a bunch of rules like the defenseless player. The blind side hit.  It defines how you block him and it takes the big hit out of college football.  I think that’s wise. I think it’s wise for college football.  I don’t think that there is one new rule that’s had the effect of taking the wedge, wedge blocking on the kickoff, out of college football.  I don’t think any new rule has effected the game that much.  I’m looking for that rule but, so far, it hasn’t happened this year.

LR : I would say in coaching it’s the blind side block.  It’s changed a lot on how we coach.  Players are used to playing the game a certain way since they were young.  That’s a tough adjustment for the players but we need to emphasize the new rule.

LF : We got called for a blind side block.  There was also a call last week that was misinterpreted by the officials but it’s not a rule change.  No, there hasn’t been a rule that has effected us but you have to be careful of the blind side block.

CS : No, not really.  There haven’t been any rules changes that have effected us for sure.

Q2

LM : I’m a traditionalist.  I think the first time they set up that distance they realizing that one yard wasn’t going to work.  One yard wouldn’t allow a guy to get his balance.  So they move it to two yards.  Now, they have their balance but they’re not moving.  They wanted to give players an opportunity to move so that’s why they went to three yards.  If that’s what college football wants to do, I’m happy with it.

LR : I think they need to adjust that rule.  I don’t think a lineman should be allowed to be three yards down the field on a pass play.  Fundamentally, I’m against it but it’s part of the rules and we have to deal with it.

LF : No, it’s really hard to officiate that rule.  I think you just need to cut it off at three yards but, I think, if you start putting some stipulations on that it becomes difficult for the officials.  If we’re talking about a bang-bang play, then I think it’s OK.  If we’re talking about a play when the ball is held longer, the defense is at a big disadvantage.  Look, what ever the rule happens to be, I’m OK with it.  I just think we have to do a better job of helping the officials decide if it’s two yards or three yards down the field because it’s not fair to them.

CS : The problem is that it becomes a gray area.  Sometimes it’s four or five yards.  It makes it really tough on the officials.  This rule gives you the pass option and you’re going to throw the pass when it’s open.  I think it’s just such a gray area.  Sometimes, the officials are going to be right on it and there are going to be times they are not right on it.  I just don’t want to see more pressure put on them where they have to make that call.