There’s a rule proposal coming down the pike that would allow players to play in up to four games during a season while still preserving their redshirt.
Fox Sports reported last week that the American Football Coaches Association plans to send the idea to the NCAA. Many coaches have already come out in favor of the proposal and it was a big topic of conversation on Monday’s SEC coaches teleconference. Most of the coaches asked had positive things to say, including Alabama’s Nick Saban.
In particular, Saban pointed out how beneficial the rule could be for the development of his players on the field.
[More college football from Yahoo Sports: SEC spring practice summaries]
“I absolutely would be in favor of that. One of the most difficult things for players is they can’t play at all when they’re freshmen to be able to gain a redshirt year,” Saban said. “They all want to play. This would give them an opportunity to play some and would actually enhance their development to some degree. With the numbers we have right now and the number of games we’re playing, you might be able to play a few more players in some of those games. That would help other players on your team as well.”
Saban also pointed to a few other sticking points coaches have had with the redshirting process. A player may be put into a game briefly — as little as a few plays — before it’s determined he is probably not ready to play at that level. When that happens, a coach has burned a player’s redshirt before realizing that he simply was not ready. The proposal would be a great thing for the player.
“You eliminate some of these things where a guy plays for five plays in a game, and you got to appeal to get his year back because you either made a mistake putting him in the game or you thought he was going to play more and he didn’t,” Saban said.
Other coaches, like Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen, said the rule would be a big boost for a team that has issues with injuries. If a team is thin at a position and a redshirting player has shown promise in practice over the course of the year, he can help his team without losing a year.
“There might be a guy that you might like to play, but he’s not quite developed. He’s not quite ready, for whatever reason. But as the season goes on, at the end of his freshman year, you say ‘This guy could be ready. He could take some reps off another guy.’ You should be able to do that,” Mullen said.
Other coaches like South Carolina’s Will Muschamp, LSU’s Ed Orgeron, Kentucky’s Mark Stoops and Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze also voiced their support.
Florida coach Jim McElwain actually took it a step further. He believes players should have five years of eligibility.
“Why not just let them play? Give them the five years of eligibility and call it the way it is,” McElwain said.
All that said, there are many more hurdles to clear before the proposal could come to fruition.
First up, the newly formed Division I Football Competition Committee, chaired by Arizona State AD Ray Anderson, will discuss the proposal at its May 16 meeting. If they’re on board, they forward the proposal to Division I’s Football Oversight Committee, chaired by Bowlsby. That committee could then formally sponsor legislation to be considered by the larger Division I Council, with the possibility of going up for vote at January’s NCAA convention.
This won’t be the last time we talk about this one.
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