Malzahn: Headset rule will hurt quality of game

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SANDESTIN, Fla. — Auburn Tigers coach Gus Malzahn called the new NCAA rule limiting the number of people on headsets during games “a joke” that will have an impact on the quality of the game.

Earlier this month, the NCAA passed legislation that will cap the number of people on headsets to 20, including 15 coaches.

“The 20 headset rule is a joke,” Malzahn said on Wednesday at SEC Spring Meetings. “There’s no doubt about it. I think that’s got the ability to hurt our game. That’s a really big deal.”

Malzahn’s comments came a day after Alabama coach Nick Saban questioned the rule as well.

“I don’t know who is driving all this stuff,” Saban said, “but to me it’s kind of like mouse manure when you’re up to your ears in elephant doo-doo.”

According to Malzahn, the rule is aimed at the growing support staffs among some programs in college football. And, he said, “any rule that’s put in place because of something else is not good.”

The issue, Malzahn said, is that there is a disconnect between coaches and decision-makers.

“We’ve got a lot of people that are not football coaches making decisions for football,” he said. “I think if we had more football coaches involved in the decision making it would be better for our game.”

Malzahn said the decision to limit the number of headsets will affect what a coach normally does during the course of the game. In the past, staff members could listen to play calls on headsets and chart plays accordingly. That information would then be relayed to coaches at halftime.

Now that whole process will be hampered.

“I don’t care if you have 50 off-field guys or two off-field guys, most teams in college football are going to have off-field guys on a headset at least charting or doing something like that,” Malzahn said. “And then you talk about the signaling aspect. … It affects the game.”

Asked how many headsets Auburn employed last season, Malzahn said “a lot.”

“Probably a whole lot,” he added.

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