AAC coaches excited about new redshirt rule
NEWPORT, R.I. — There are so few times when college football coaches agree on a rule change, but a new redshirt rule in effect for the upcoming season enjoys wide support.
The change implemented by the NCAA Football Oversight Committee allows players to compete in up to four games without it counting as a year of eligibility, allowing them to retain a redshirt if they’re rarely used during the season.
Coaches at American Athletic Conference football media day said they saw many benefits to to the rule change, noting the chance to enhance young player development and replenish their rosters following player injuries.
The AAC coaches shared their thoughts on the rule change:
UCF’s Josh Heupel
“I think it’s right for student-athletes which at the end of the day is what this should all be about is helping young men becoming the best version of themselves for success and then also give them a great platform over the next four or five years to achieve greatness in their athletic venture. I think it gives coaches and players an opportunity for some guys that you think maybe could impact your team and play them early in the year to see if they grow and develop the way that you think that they can. I think it also gives you the opportunity that guys develop and grow in the course of the season, there are opportunities at the end of the year whether by injury or kids just develop, to give them the opportunity to play some football at the end of the year.”
“You might have a guy who’s kind of on the bubble who’s going to impact you defensively. I don’t think he’s quite there yet. Let’s play him on some special team and let’s get him some snaps. How does he play? He does he perform? How does he handle adversity? You get a chance to maybe see those guys develop in those situations and all of a sudden; yes, he can play all 12 ball games in the regular season or he’s not progressing the way I think and now you pull him back and he saves a year.”
SMU’s Sonny Dykes
“I think the best thing about that rule is it’s really a player safety rule. What typically happens is every single team in the country is going to have a little bit of a deficit in one position on the team. So maybe you want to have six really good corners. Well, you have four that you feel good about playing. So those four guys get all those reps and then you have an injury at one of those positions. Well, now those three guys have to absorb the fourth one’s reps.
“Well, they’re playing on special teams and the fourth one is playing on special teams and now they have to pick up his reps on special teams. So what happens is they’re fatigued and overworked and it causes someone else to break down. Now you’re down to two guys. You’re in a precarious situation. What happens is there’s a bit of a domino effect when it comes to injury. This rule will allow us to say; OK, now we have a freshman who we can get ready to play and he can at some point absorb some of that workload and protect some of those other players. From that perspective, it’s a pretty significant rule, just because I think it makes a huge difference, it helps keep your guys healthy.”
Navy’s Ken Niumatalolo
“I’m part of the AFCA [American Football Coaches Association] board of trustees. It was unanimous that everybody thought it was a great idea. It just makes so much sense that a kid should be able to play and not lose his redshirt year. We’re really, really excited about it. There’s so much benefit that’s happened in this game, but it’s still about the players. Anything we can do to help benefit them I think is awesome. I think coaches will be able to use it and give some guys some exposure to try without burning that redshirt year. This is a grueling game, so guys get injured and sometimes you’re having a guy continue to play knowing that he’s not 100 percent. Or maybe you can have a guy come in and run down a kickoff and be a special team’s player to get a few plays under their belt. It helps their development and not hurt a guy’s future. I think it’s a win-win in a lot of different facets.”
USF’s Charlie Strong
“The advantage of the redshirt rule is if a player gets hurt, you can play a freshman on Week 10. The old rule was if you played a kid in Week 10, it counted. He might have only gone out there and played 20 plays and now you’ve wasted a year [of eligibility] but you didn’t have anyone else. Now, it gives a young player a chance to gain some experience and strengthen your roster.”