This guy definitely abides by the rules.
It's not terribly surprising that a majority of college football fans think they know the rules. What is surprising is when coaches, who get paid millions of dollars a year to coach a sport, don't know the rules. And they're the first to complain when their team is flagged. When Dino Babers cranked up the tempo of the SU offense, Bobby Petrino, coach of the Louisville Cardinals, seemed to think Syracuse was violating the rules by doing so. NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND.
Most of you know that I am a football official in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In Massachusetts, high schools play under NCAA Football rules. We also use CCA Mechanics, which are the college official mechanics. So needless to say, when a coach flat out accuses Syracuse of cheating, this was in my wheelhouse. Petrino accused Syracuse of playing too fast, saying that it was illegal for Syracuse to snap the ball before the chains were set by the officials. Well, obviously this is wrong, and stupid, and ignorant. Kind of like the some of the things Petrino has done in his private life.
Pretend you've never read the NCAA rulebook (most of you). You've watched a bunch of games. At some point, even if you haven't seen Syracuse this year, you've probably seen a team play with a no huddle offense. Now, you might know that when a team gets a first down, the clock stops. The purpose of this is technically to reset the chains to denote the 10 yards needed to achieve another first down. However, if you've ever watched the clock, you notice it's usually only stopped for a few seconds. Then the referee winds his arm, blows the whistle, and the ball is ready for play and the clock continues to roll. This happens many times, every game. So, unless you don't watch college football, anyone should know that the clock is only stopped for a few seconds. Again, the theory is that this is for the chains to move and reset. However, if you've ever seen a game in person (I assume Petrino has seen a few in person) you'll notice that as soon as the ball is spotted by the Center Judge (or the Umpire), the ball is declared ready for play and the Referee blows his whistle. They don't actually wait for the chains to be set.
The ACC Coordinator of Officials Dennis Hennigan, who is a former on field Referee and actually a lawyer in the Syracuse area, said:
Assuming that the offense does not substitute, the officials will allow the offense to snap the ball when the officials are in position, and when the "box", i.e., the down indicator, is set. The officials do not wait for the chains to get set. Both the box and the chains move upon the direction of the officials.
And not only that, but the officials have to blow the whistle to signify that the ball is ready for play. Syracuse is not able to snap the ball legally unless the Referee blows his whistle signifying that the ball is ready for play. If Syracuse does snap the ball before the whistle is blown, a 5 yard delay of game penalty is assessed. For as much grief as ACC Officials have gotten in the last few years, they do at least know when the teams are able to snap the ball.
So there you have it. Syracuse's offense isn't break the rules. And not only that, but it's common sense that if the officials are letting the players snap the ball, it's legal. And now you know some of the rules of NCAA Football better than one of it's highest paid, most crooked coaches. As always, send rules questions or any other game related things along to @BH_Orange44.