CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When it comes to the controversial rule concerning defensive substitution, Alfred White is surprised one factor hasn't been widely reported.
The NCAA's Football Rules Committee passed last week a new rule forcing offenses to wait until there are 29 seconds left on the 40-second play clock before snapping the ball, allowing defenses to substitute on every down. Plays in the final two minutes of each half are unaffected.
That change, and another concerning the targeting rule, are allowed to be addressed because of health and safety reasons. Otherwise, rule changes cannot be taken up until the end of the 2013-2014 cycle.
Both changes will be up for final approval March 6 by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel.
White, associate commissioner at Conference USA, said the vote among the 11 rules panelists was unanimous. "I don't think there were any dissenters. I recall everybody raising their hands."
There have been plenty of dissenting coaches, though. Those who run fast-paced offenses have cried foul, and some cynics note that the two FBS head coaches on the committee, Troy Calhoun of Air Force and Todd Berry of Louisiana-Monroe, run offenses that average a low number of plays per game.
Most modern-day super-hurry-up offenses, such as that occasionally used at Marshall, do not substitute between plays, thus forcing defenses to keep their same 11 players on the field. In 2012, the Thundering Herd averaged about 90 plays per game, tops in the nation. The 2013 number fell to about 78, still higher than most.
Proponents point to higher injury rates from the higher number of plays, though opponents cite a lack of data to support that. Even Calhoun said Tuesday he has yet to see a medical study linking the rapid pace of an offense to potential health issues for defensive players.
Conversely, Berry brought up the example of an asthmatic player having to stay on the field because the WarHawks were out of timeouts and their opponent was hurrying to snap the next play.
A similar concern was brought up, and White listened more intently.