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Malzahn: "Rule changes shouldn't mess with creativity"


The newly proposed rule that would draw a flag for having lineman more than one yard down field on a pass play is a real thorn in the side for creative offensive coaches, and Gus Malzahn and Hugh Freeze have been very vocal against the proposal aimed at limiting run-pass option schemes, or "packaged plays".

For Malzahn, one of the more creative offensive coaches in the game, he feels that the rule change would really limit creativity on the offensive side of the ball.

“It’s going to change the way we do things, those of us who are run-pass offenses, and when you look around college football right now, that’s a lot of us,” Malzahn told ESPN in a piece yesterday written by Chris Low.

“You’re always looking for ways to be creative, and I don’t think you should ever change the rules to take creativity out of the game unless it’s a safety issue. This is not a safety issue."

Although it may seem self serving to a degree, Malzahn adds that scoring will also go down, which will lead to less fans in the stands. He also notes the change will hurt coaches at the high school level as well because many of them are running similar schemes.

Hugh Freeze added to Freeze's comments by saying that he understands where coaches are coming from, but this isn't the right solution.

"I understand those coaches who are upset when a lineman is 5 or 6 yards downfield and the quarterback pulls up and throws a pass, that’s a penalty and should be called. Throw the flag, but don’t penalize those of us who are doing it right and coaching it right by changing the rule." Freeze noted.

I happen to agree with both guys, but in the interest of full disclosure, I'm an offensive guy to my core, and I can't help but have nightmares about this already.

With that in mind, I have a strong personal belief that all future rule proposals should ask two important questions. First, and most importantly, is how will this proposal have an impact on player safety? And secondly, does it limit ingenuity or creativity within schemes?

In an era where athletic departments are trying to pry people off their couches and get them into the stands, limiting ingenuity in the game doesn't seem like a good idea, especially when it has no bearing on player safety. With participation in football down around the country at nearly every level, giving players the opportunity to play in new and exciting schemes is a nice feather in the cap.

As the packaged plays / run-pass option concept begins to gain steam, I think a better alternative would be to appoint one ref with one job only, and that's to keep an eye out for ineligible lineman down field. That appeases the coaches with concerns, and still gives the guys who coach it right the freedom to be creative.

I'm interested to check the pulse of other coaches with thoughts on the subject. Let me know your thoughts @CoachSamz or in the comments below.

Update >> Good news. The rule is staying at 3-yards.