It isn’t easy to get competitive college football coaches to agree on much, especially rule changes. Offensive-minded coaches love playing at a breakneck pace (which has become commonplace), while defensive-minded coaches favor rule changes that limit teams’ ability to play fast.
Coaches also seem to be split on the newly-passed early signing day for recruiting. Some favor the traditional recruiting schedule, and others like the possibility of getting firm commitments before February.
However, there’s a new rule proposal that appears to have unanimous support amongst college football coaches.
The new proposal will allow players to participate in up to four games while maintaining their redshirt status.
Count Alabama coach Nick Saban as one of the supporters of a proposed rule that would give players and coaches more freedom when it comes to using redshirts.
The American Football Coaches Association is sending a proposal to the NCAA that would allow players to play in up to four games in a season without losing their redshirt status for that year. Saban said on Monday that he “absolutely would be in favor” of such a rule.
“It would actually enhance their development to some degree,” Saban said during the SEC coaches’ postspring teleconference. “With the numbers that we have right now and the number of games that we’re playing, you might be able to play a few more players in some of those games, and that would help some of the other players on your team, as well.
“The number one thing, it would tremendously help the development of some young players on your team to be able to look forward to being able to play in some guys but not lose the year.”
Saban added that it would almost allow coaches to try players out at midseason, eliminating the punishment of a player losing an entire year of eligibility because a coach rushed him onto the field too fast.
Saban’s SEC coaching counterparts were also all for this proposal becoming a reality. Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen said it could help with player safety by adding to roster numbers toward the middle and end of the season. This way, if a position became thin due to injuries toward the latter part of the season, coaches could insert a true freshman who might be showing signs of being ready to take on actual playing time without wasting an entire year of eligibility on that player.
Mullen also said it would benefit players who might start the season off slowly but gradually work their way into game shape. Instead of sitting them to preserve more eligibility, coaches would now opt to give them valuable experience to better their future development. This proposal could also help with players keep their redshirts if they don’t see action until later in the season but suffer season-ending injuries.
“You should be able to do that,” Mullen said. “I’m definitely in favor of that.”
For Tennessee coach Butch Jones, getting any sort of game experience for true freshmen is a benefit for most players’ psyches.
“Being able to put a young man in those early games, see how they react to it, I think they can develop confidence,” Jones said.
LSU coach Ed Orgeron took the proposal a step further, offering his support for getting rid of redshirts altogether and allowing players to have five years of eligibility — for which some have advocated for years.
“The more you can play, the better,” Orgeron said. “This is basketball on grass nowadays. You have some offenses out there trying to run 100 plays. The game has doubled since when we played, so I think the more guys you can without burning a year would be great.”
It’s hard to find a reason to oppose the rule.
It allows young players a chance to get on the field without burning a year of eligibility in mop-up duty of an early-season blowout, and it gives coaches more depth as well as a better perspective of what a player can do.
With so much support, the rule change seems like a slam dunk. All parties involved should hope that’s the case.