KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Tennessee coach Butch Jones said a push to slow down hurry-up offenses is rooted more in coaches’ “personal preference” than concern for player safety.
“I think it’s the equivalent of telling a basketball team you can’t full-court press,” Jones said. “If we want to talk about the overall health, then let’s start limiting blitzes. You talk about protecting players, you give the defense more time to disguise, disrupt the quarterback?”
Jones made the comments on a Friday morning appearance on Nashville radio station 104.5 The Zone.
Jones was in Nashville Thursday for a high school clinic and had to stay overnight after his flight was nixed by bad weather. He’ll be back there again on Saturday for the Nashville Sports Fest.
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema who has seemingly led the public campaign against hurry-up, no-huddle offenses like those employed at Auburn and Oregon (and increasingly elsewhere) raised the stakes in the debate this week.
Bielema was asked about evidence regarding injuries. His answer: “Death certificates,” referencing the death of a Cal football player.
— Troy Schulte (@TroySchulteADG) February 21, 2014
That’s unlikely to satisfy Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, or Jones, who also said he wanted to see real data on the subject. Although Tennessee’s offense is no-huddle, it hasn’t quite reached the warp-speed level of Auburn. But Jones likes to control the game’s tempo, so it’s likely the offense will speed up as the offense gets better.
“I really look forward to really seeing what type of evidence there is in terms of making the game safer. I’m all for (making the game safer). But I don’t think that’s the avenue to do that,” Jones said.
In 2013, Jones openly predicted the eventual demise of the kickoff, which is still a controversial subject with many coaches. So he’s willing to entertain even radical ideas for making the game safer. But he doesn’t think this proposed rule change would do so.
“I don’t think it comes down to our overall health of our game. I think it comes down to each coach’s personal preference,” he said. “Everything we do is to err on the side of player safety. We need to talk about the punt return and the kickoff return and the kickoff, not how fast we’re going on offense. So obviously I’m not for that (rule change).”