The Big 12 has finalized the implementation of an eighth official for football games, primarily to help with spotting the ball. A great idea and a slap at the leader of the Sabanistas claiming the fast paced offenses are ruining the game, putting defensive players at higher risk of injury, blah blah blah.......
Up-tempo offenses have been prolific in the Big 12 for a number of years, and yes, they are fun to watch. The SEC has seen a dramatic increase in these offenses, starting with Auburn a few years ago, A&M last year and occasional fast paced offensive series from other teams (Florida, Kentucky, Bama) but 2013 will bring in a year where teams whole focus will be to speed up the offense - Kentucky, Auburn, A&M, Tennessee while others will make it a significant part of their offense - Missouri, Vandy, Florida.
When Saban first aired his dislike of the style, his reasoning centered on on an increase of defensive injuries due to fatigue in players denied relief through substitution. A couple months later Arkansas' Bielema chimed in his support of the statement while also saying his style of offense was going to be "American smash mouth football" (anybody else get a snicker at the dichotomy of that position?). In any case, voices have chimed in and made some good points.
First: Aren't the offensive players in there for every down also? Second: If your personnel aren't conditioned or suited to defend that type of offense shouldn't the coach adjust his roster to have the right type of athlete to defend the offense?
One of the building blocks of Saban's defense revolves around the ability to rotate through half the Alabama student body without a drop off in ability to wear out the opposing offensive line. Denying him the ability to rotate another set of 5 star bodies effects his defense as possessions linger. His defense and his players have not had to depend on the starters carrying the burden of success for the team, they're just in the "next man up!" philosophy with the bench to carry it out. I'm not trying to slight Saban at all, I admire him more than most non-Bama fans and think -- the man is a pure genius. But the up-temp offensive game is a chink in his armor that needs to be exploited, not covered up with new rules.
The Big 12 has solved the one issue with the faster game that made the biggest impression on me; that is, can the officials keep up with the faster pace and still call a good game? The eighth man appears to me to be as good of a cure as any. Don't change the game or how it evolves, just make sure the game is played on an even field.