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They May Not Stand for It, but Disgruntled Coaches Still Playing by the Rule

January 15, 1986|MIKE DiGIOVANNA | Times Staff Writer

Imagine a high school math teacher who is not allowed to stand during class. Blackboard instruction is forbidden.

Those who leave their seats are subject to a fine. And the principal attends classes to make sure they abide by the rules.

It's enough to turn in your slide rule.

Now you know what high school basketball coaches are experiencing this season.

For the month and a half since the 1985-86 season began, they've worked under Rule 10-5 (the more restricted bench rule), a National Federation of State High School Athletic Associations edict that isn't sitting well with many coaches.

Rule 10-5 states: "The coach must remain seated while the clock is stopped or running, except to:

- "Confer within the bench area with players and squad members during a charged timeout or intermission between quarters.

- "Rise and signal a timeout from in front of the seat.

- "Confer at the scorer's table to request a correctable timeout.

- "Attend an injured player when beckoned onto the court.

- "Remove or replace a disqualified or injured player."

A coach can jump in a spontaneous show of emotion, but he must immediately sit down.

The penalty for violations is a two-shot technical.

Midway through the season, most coaches are crying foul. Some comments:

--"I think the 10-5 rule stinks," said Mark Thornton of Capistrano Valley

--"I think the 10-5 rule is ludicrous," said Tim Travers of El Toro.

--"I think the new rule is horrible," said Al Walin of Magnolia. "It's completely out-of-bounds."

--"I think it's a silly rule that has to be done away with or modified," said Pat Adams of Rancho Alamitos.

--"To put it mildly, I think it's an embarrassment to the coaching profession," said Brent Fair of Pacifica.

Many think the rule complicates coaching. They say they can't communicate with players, which makes calling plays or changing defenses, difficult.

Many say that referees have been inconsistent in dealing with the rule. According to coaches, some officials haven't enforced 10-5 as strictly as others. They worry that officials might concentrate more on the bench than on the game.

There are other practical problems.

"We can't even stand up and stretch anymore," Walin said. "We can't even straighten our pants."

The rule, however, has some supporters.

"My peers will probably hate me for saying this, but I like the 10-5 rule," said Gene Campbell, Garden Grove coach. "I think the coaches have been taking the game away from the kids in recent years."

Said Villa Park Coach Val Popov: "It makes me have more discipline on the sideline. It also makes the game revolve around the players, rather than the coaches."

Said Valencia Coach Ray Rodriguez: "I think it might make some kids play better without the coach always up yelling at them."

Many coaches say they would prefer a coaching box, as used in college, but statistics show that area coaches have been learning to live with the bench rule.

Of 52 Orange County boys' coaches contacted, 11 said they have been cited for violations. Those 11 have been called for 25 technicals. Loara's Craig Conrad leads the county with five; Fair has 4.

Many of 10-5's are ardent opponents, including Thornton, Travers, Katella's Tom Danley, Mater Dei's Gary McKnight and Santa Ana's Greg Coombs, have not been penalized by it.

But that doesn't allay their unhappiness with it.

"A baseball coach can go jaw-to-jaw with an umpire, walk back to the dugout and nothing happens," Coombs said. "What if there was a penalty giving a batter first base when that happened? Make a football coach sit down and see how he likes it."

McKnight: "I think if you're up yelling at the refs, you deserve a technical, but it's ridiculous to call it if you're just up coaching."

Some have found ways around the rule.

Terry Conley, El Dorado coach, sits in the middle of the bench during games so he can talk to three or four players at a time on the sideline.

Some coaches who used to sit their teams on the first row of the bleachers are placing a row of chairs in front of the bleachers so he can be closer to the action.

Graham found a loophole in the rule's "spontaneous show of emotion" segment. "Anytime I stand up, I make sure I'm clapping," he said. "And then I call the play."

Bill Shannon, the Woodbridge coach who hasn't been penalized by 10-5, acclimated himself with it during preseason practices. "When the kids were going five-on-five, I'd bring out a chair and force myself to sit down the whole time," he said. "So now, I'm used to it."

Fair received his four technicals in Pacifica's first five games but hasn't received one since.

"I've trained two assistants to grab me before I break the rule," he said.

Adams said that his junior varsity coach, Terry Munson, used the rule to his advantage.

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