Sports Column: New redshirt rule frees players

Sports Column: New redshirt rule frees players
October 11
11:00 2018

The rules for Division I football players have always been slanted toward the coaches and universities.  Beginning this season, players have a little more say in their futures due to a new rule change affecting when a player can redshirt.

Starting this season, players can now play up to four games before redshirting without losing a year of eligibility.  Previously, the NCAA considered a redshirt burned if a player took the field for even a single play during a game.

Blake James, University of Miami athletic director and chairman of the Division I Council that passed the rule change, said “This change promotes not only fairness for college athletes, but also their health and well-being.  Redshirt football student-athletes are more likely to remain engaged with the team and starters will be less likely to feel pressure to play through injuries.  Coaches will appreciate the additional flexibility and ability to give younger players an opportunity to participate in limited competition.”

Coaches have been pushing for this rule change for the last couple of years.  Now that they have their wish, I am not sure they were prepared for how the players are taking advantage of the rule.

The coaches wanted the rule so they could give younger players or role players game experience, but several players have taken advantage of this rule and have decided to transfer following their fourth game of the year.

Most notably, Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant was benched in favor of freshman Trevor Lawrence.  Bryant took Clemson to the college football playoffs last season and was undefeated at the time of his benching.

As a senior, Bryant only has one more year of eligibility left to play.  He decided that playing behind Lawrence for the remainder of his college career was not the move he wanted to make, so he informed Clemson coach Dabo Swinney that he plans to transfer.

The ironic part of the move was that Lawrence was hurt in their last game against Syracuse, but with Bryant making his decision earlier that week he was not available to play.  That could have been a golden opportunity for Bryant to take his starting job back, so there are positives and negatives to the new rule change for the players, as well as the coaches.

This move allows Bryant to transfer to another university and have the chance to start the season opener for that team next season.  I am sure the college coaches were not counting on this being a byproduct of the new rule.

Many people assumed Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts would do the same thing Bryant did.  Hurts decided to stay with the Crimson Tide instead of transferring.  This move may hurt Hurts in the long run, as he will have less game tape for NFL scouts to examine.  On the flip side, Alabama will have a sizable lead in many games, so he may have a chance to display his skills in several games down the stretch.

Hopefully this rule will stay in place for the players.  This gives them a little flexibility to make a decision that could better benefit their careers in the long run.  Power to the players.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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