The positives and negatives of a hurry-up (college football) nation

Kevin C. Cox

They spread of the hurry-up has changed college football for the better and worse.

Maybe the most talked about issue in college football leading up to spring was the proposed rule change that would penalize a team for snapping the ball within the first 10 seconds of the play clock. The proposal couldn't have been any less popular with the general consensus of college football fans and media, especially since it was closely-tied to college football super villains Nick Saban and Brett Bielema. The rule was lambasted because of its poorly-thought-out design (how do you get a delay of game penalty for moving too fast?), the perception of its attempt to try and de-evolve the game and the perception that (fueled by Saban and Bielema) it was disingenuously hiding behind the pretense of safety.

Now that the rule did not pass and the dust has settled a bit on the debate, I thought it would be a good time to take a look at it from a different perspective with that different perspective being from a person who didn't think that it was the worst idea in the history of ideas, but probably didn't think it was worth passing. I think people were oversimplifying not only the individual proposal, but the overall idea of the hurry-up and whether or not it would be a tragedy if it was slowed down a little bit.

Instead of just knee-jerking about the proposal, or the viral spread of the hurry-up offense in college football, I wanted to put together some goods and some bads of the hurry-up and it's explosion in college football.

Good - The game is evolving - Whether it is for good or bad, the simple fact that (college) football is evolving is one of the main reasons that it only seems to get more and more popular. The fact that football is always changing is the reason why it is demolishing sports like baseball and the speeding up of the game is a necessity in a day and age where the pace of everything in life has rapidly increased.

Bad - More isn't necessarily better, it's just more - There always seems to be a large contingent who seem to assume that more is always better - more plays, more scoring - but that simply isn't always the case. When teams score at will and scores creep higher and higher and higher, it takes away the tension in the game and waters down the importance of touchdowns.

Bad - More plays likely equal more injuries - It is simple math. The more plays there are in a game, the more chances there are for injury, especially considering that increased plays lead to increased fatigue.

Bad - Evolution doesn't necessarily equal progression - The hurry-up, fueled by the read option has significantly simplified the game. Playbooks have shrunk, defenses have had to scrap a lot of strategies and, even though the speed has ramped up, the actually game play is more simple than it had been a handful of years ago in a lot of ways.

Good - Apparently non-football fans like it - I have heard numerous times that people who don't really like football appreciate the non-stop pace of the hurry-up and I guess that is a good thing, but at this point in time in history, if someone isn't a fan of football by now, I don't know if I really want them.

Bad - Games will get longer and longer (Especially if more teams use a passing-focused hurry-up) - The quickness of scoring or the ending of drives that take little to no time with how fast offenses are moving makes the game clock creep and allows for more opportunities for advertisers to bloat the broadcast with commercial breaks.

Bad - It is taking over college football - Like nothing I have ever seen before, the hurry-up has swept up college football and now just about every program has adopted it in just a few years. I prefer to watch a college football world where teams attack each other with various schemes as opposed to just brutalizing each other with pace.

Bad - Defense could become a thing of the past - I enjoy defense and I love seeing great defense getting beat by even better offense. I'm not much of a fan of defenses getting beat because they are simply tired or because they don't have time to react to plays. I like good defense and I'm seeing less and less of it every year in college football.

Bad - It is taking the tension out of the game - I believe this is the most important negative of the hurry-up. The ease of scoring and the lack of defense leads to games where scoring means less and differences in scores can easily be extended. A 17-10 game may seem unexciting on paper, but because the scoring isn't rampant, the contest is always in question and every play matters.

Good - It won't be here forever - As I mentioned earlier, football is always evolving, so even though there doesn't appear to be an answer to the hurry-up yet, it will eventually go away. My personal prediction is that the powerhouse programs will eventually be forced to adopt it and will dominate mid-to-lower-level teams and people won't think it is so cute anymore, resulting in rule changes or programs simply changing to find another way to compete.

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