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NCAA: Another "Say what?" moment

There really should be a mercy rule when it comes to bashing the NCAA. The grand poobahs of college athletics make it so easy, you almost feel a little queasy sometimes about beating them over the head with their own illogic.

Of course, then there are times like this, when the NCAA ventures so far into an alternate universe of illogic you feel compelled not only to beat them over the head with it, but to pick it up and beat them over the head with it again.

Down the pike has come this latest head scratcher, in which the NCAA has essentially decided all those exciting hurry-up spread offenses (paging Oregon ... paging Texas A&M ... paging Auburn) are playing too doggone fast. So they've passed a rule that would allow defenses to sub in the first 10 seconds of the 40-second play clock, and would penalize offenses five yards for snapping the football during the same time frame.

In other words, the NCAA will now decree when during the play clock an offense can start a play. In further other words, it will essentially be illegal now to snap the ball before the defense is set.

The flimsy rationale for this is, of course, safety, with the NCAA claiming all that scurrying back and forth the defense has to do to keep up with the hurry-up causes injuries. They offer no concrete data to support this contention, of course, for the very good reason that there isn't any.

This is beyond ridiculous, needless to say. Not only does this rule enable the NCAA to inject itself unnecessarily into the very playing of the game itself, it's an attempt to hobble one of the aspects of college football that have made it so hugely entertaining these past few years.

And it makes you wonder what's next for these exquisite meddlers.

I mean, in college basketball, what happens the next time Jack Taylor of Grinnell College hangs 100 on someone? Will the NCAA step in and decree that a certain number of seconds has to run off the shot clock before a team can shoot?

That is, after all, the basketball equivalent of this. Yeah, it's sillier than kittens on ether. But if enough defensive-minded hoops coaches complain about shoot-shoot-shoot teams such as Grinnell (as they've apparently complained about hurry-up offenses in football), who can say the NCAA wouldn't do this?

Look, here's the deal: If defensive coaches don't like getting lit up by the Oregons and A&Ms of the world, there's a simple solution. Recruit faster players, and teach them to play faster.

Guarantee it'll make you look better than to go crying to the rulemakers to bail you out.

Ben Smith's blog.