Last week we detailed how Bret Bielema's coordinated string pulling was a driving force behind the NCAA's proposed 10-second rule. An outspoken proponent of slowing the game down (and someone with a vested competitive interest in doing so), Bielema was one of two non-voting members of the rules committee in last week's meeting in Indianapolis.
The other? Nick Saban.
With that in mind, hat tip of the day goes to Jon Solomon of the Birmingham News for unearthing this quote. "I think football is a great team game, probably the greatest team game there is. But I certainly would not want to do anything as coaches or teachers to affect somebody's future ability to function in a normal manner. But at the same time I hope the things that are out there right now (about suggested rule changes), there's enough scientific evidence to make sure we're not creating something that maybe we don't overreact to, even though I don't want to do anything that would hurt any player."
That quote was authored by none other than Nick Saban, at SEC Media Days in 2012 when asked about the impact of Junior Seau's suicide.
By that October, Saban had begun campaigning against hurry up offenses with the now-infamous "is this what we want football to be?" quote. At that time, Alabama was 5-0. The Tide has gone 19-3 since, losing to the no-huddle attacks of Texas A&M, Auburn and Oklahoma, plus the 49-42 tilt-a-whirl win over the Aggies in September.
Now Saban is throwing his weight behind this new piece of legislation despite the NCAA having no hard data to support it, the very thing he advised against less than 24 months ago.
What do we make of this political hardball? It's self-serving and opportunistic, sure. But in the dog-eat-dog world of the SEC, Saban (and Bielema) have reached a level of ruthless pragmatism that should be admired.