By Nick Nollenberger
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -- Although Bret Bielema and Rich Rodriguez are both peers and friends their coaching philosophies in terms of spread offensives are drastically different.
New Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema has been criticized for being somewhat archaic in terms of offensive philosophy. When asked about spread offenses in college football at a recent SEC spring meeting, Bielema went on to say "there's times where you can't get a defensive substitution…That has an effect on safety of that student-athlete, especially the bigger defensive linemen."
Alabama head coach Nick Saban has been an avid component of what Bielema is echoing. Saban has the creditability to be against spread offenses. While running a more traditional offense Saban's Alabama teams have been dominating college football landscape for the better portion of half a decade.
Although safety was one major concern Bielema's and Saban's, the offensive advantage was another. Bielema flat out said "It's not fair for the defenses."
Bielema's solution to assist the defenses is that there should be a 15 second grace period between first downs to allow for substitutions and rest time.
Bielema this offseason took the head coaching position at Arkansas after being the head coach at Wisconsin from 2006-2012. He was known for his massive offensive lineman and methodical pro style offense which counters the lighter zone blocking offensive lineman seen in spread offenses.
Arizona Wildcats head coach Rich Rodriguez has made a career of running a high tempo offense. He even ran it when he was the head coach at Michigan and one of Bielema's arch enemies in the Big 10. When told about Bielema's comments on ESPN's College Football Live Rodriguez had a slightly different interpretation of the fast paced attack.
Rodriguez jokingly said "maybe those words are self serving…its still 11-on-11." As far as being a safety concern Rodriguez wasn't buying that either. Suggesting if you're in shape you'll be fine.
He laughed saying, "the huddle is the biggest waste of time in football."
While Saban is with Bielema, other SEC coaches like Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin and Auburn's Gus Malzahn are avid proponents of spread offenses. Both have coached a Heisman Trophy winner running the spread offense. Cam Newton won it with Malzahn as offensive coordinator in 2010 and Johnny Manziel won it with Sumlin in 2012. Robert Griffin won it at Baylor running The Spread in 2011.
Schools throughout the country including Arizona and rival Oregon have become infamous for running these fast passed offensive attacks. Only time will tell who will win the debate, but until someone learns how to stop The Spread it seems here to stay.
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