Bret Bielema cites player’s death to support defensive sub rule

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Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema has finally had his chance to address the proposed rule that has sparked plenty of controversy since it was first reported. Odds are some of Bielema’s comments will not go over too well.

The NCAA’s Football Rules Committee is proposing a rule that would prevent an offense from snapping the football for ten seconds, to allow defensive substitutions. The initial stated intention for the rule was to focus on player safety, but many have been quick to suggest it is more about slowing down up-tempo offenses. Bielema was in the room when the rule proposal was discussed, although he was on hand as a representative of the American Football Coaches Association of America and not as a committee member. His being in the room though has been perceived to have some say on what was going on. On Thursday night Bielema was asked publicly to comment on the proposal.

Earlier this month Cal defensive end Ted Agu collapsed during a conditioning run and died at a local hospital. If Bielema is attempting to make a point about player safety in a game, referencing a tragedy off the playing field may not be the best way to go about addressing a concern. still, Bielema’s focus on player safety should not be overlooked. This is juts a poor way of doing it.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Bielema also said he could not care less about how people perceive him and his opinions.

There is no arguing that there are a number of risks to football players every time they take the field. Would slowing down the snap pace make that much of a difference? Maybe to some extent, but the concrete data has yet to be shared to suggest it would. It is easy for a coach to suggest that fewer plays will decrease the chances a player gets hurt. That is just simple number crunching. Fewer plays means fewer opportunities to get hurt.

But pointing out a player falling to his death in practice in February? That’s not the best way to make your case.

Air Force football sanctioned for recruiting violations

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AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — The Air Force football program received two years of probation from the NCAA and had its squad size reduced by 10 for four years as part of its sanctions for recruiting violations.

The penalties were announced Thursday after Air Force and four individuals reached an agreement with NCAA enforcement staff on recruiting violations. A fifth individual in the case has contested their role and will be heard by the committee on infractions.

The sanctions also include a fine and a reduction of 46 total official visits for the football program in the 2022-23 and `23-24 academic years. In addition, there’s a prohibition on unofficial visits in football from Sept. 1 through Oct. 12, 2022, and a reduced number of evaluation days this fall.

Air Force has around 115 players on its varsity roster, plus a JV team that all count as NCAA athletes and its roster size.

“The (committee) appreciates the parties’ efforts in working collaboratively together to reach agreement on the violations, levels, classifications, and significant and meaningful penalties,” Gary Miller, the chief hearing officer for the panel and president at Akron, said in a statement. “The panel also recognizes that Air Force has gone above and beyond in its overall approach to this case.”

In a joint statement, Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Richard Clark and director of athletics Nathan Pine said: “The U.S. Air Force Academy is pleased that our case has progressed to the point of the NCAA accepting our negotiated resolution. We will continue working with the NCAA on this ongoing self-reported case from the COVID dead period, as it’s our responsibility to ensure integrity of the institution, athletics department, cadet-athletes and staff.”

The Falcons are off to a 3-1 start and host Navy on Saturday to begin the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy competition. The trophy is presented to the service academy with the best record in the round-robin format.

Florida shakes up secondary after dismal game at Tennessee

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida coach Billy Napier is shaking up his secondary after the Gators allowed 349 yards passing – including 247 of those on eight plays – in a loss at Tennessee.

Safety Trey Dean, a fifth-year senior who has started 32 games and played in 54, is out with what Florida is calling a “lower leg injury.” But no one would be surprised if Napier was quietly benching Dean after he made two mental errors against the Volunteers that resulted in 70- and 45-yard gains and set up touchdowns.

Freshman Kamari Wilson will replace Dean and make his first college start Sunday against Eastern Washington.

Cornerback Jaydon Hill will join Wilson in the starting lineup. Hill, a third-year sophomore, will make his first start since 2020. He missed the 2021 season with a torn knee ligament. He impressed Napier and his new staff in the spring but sat out preseason camp with another knee injury.

Hill will replace sophomore Avery Helm, who also struggled against the Vols.

“You talk about what he’s been through from an injury perspective,” Napier said following practice Wednesday. “Jaydon was one of the better players that we had on our team in spring practice. I was very impressed . It’s no surprise to me. He showed pretty quickly here that he’s very capable. I’m excited to watch him play.”

Georgia transfer Jalen Kimber, a former five-star recruit, is now listed as a third-team cornerback. Kimber played just 11 snaps in Knoxville a week after he returned an interception for a touchdown in a 31-28 win against South Florida.

“I like to say we try to eliminate the bad football,” Napier said. “Talking about mental errors, misalignments, poor communication, bad fundamentals and techniques, bad decision-making within the play. … We have a laundry list of things that we need to eliminate each week.

“Last week’s game, I thought we were really close, but there’s 12 or 15 plays in the game where Florida is beating Florida. We’ve got a smart group here. I think they’re very aware of what the issues are, and I think they’re working hard to address those issues.”