Alabama coach Nick Saban is much more successful in college than he was in the NFL, but there’s one thing Saban prefers about the NFL: the pace of the game.
Saban has become the public face of a controversial proposal in college football to restrict hurry-up offenses by preventing the offense from snapping the ball until at least 10 seconds have run off the play clock. And although Saban says he has been wrongly portrayed as the guiding force behind that proposal, he does say that the pace of the NFL game is superior to the pace of the college game. Saban says NFL officials are more deliberate about getting everyone into place before putting the ball into play, and he cited Chip Kelly’s offense as an example of one that was plenty fast in Philadelphia, but not as fast as it was at Oregon.
“In the NFL, what they did is the officials stand over the ball until the officials are ready to call the game,” Saban said told AL.com. “Alright, that’s how they control the pace of play. The coach at Philadelphia ran 83 plays a game at Oregon, and ran 65 a game in Philadelphia. So why do they control the pace of play in the NFL? I mean, I’m just asking.”
Saban’s head-coaching career includes successful stints in college at Toledo, Michigan State, LSU and Alabama, and an unsuccessful stint in the NFL with the Dolphins. He says the NFL has figured out how to let the officials properly control the pace of the game, but college football has not.
“They spent a lot of money in the NFL figuring out what’s best for the game and what’s best for the players and they have a lot invested in it and I think sometimes we don’t need to do all the things that they do but I think in some situations the officials controlling the pace of the game in that league has, I think, benefited the players and I would like to see the officials be able to control the pace of the game. I think the officials control the pace of the game in all games, but they don’t in college football,” Saban said.
Saban says he’s concerned about more plays per game in college football translating to more injuries per game. He may also be concerned that his defense can’t stop fast-paced offenses like Auburn and Texas A&M.