AAC coaches ex­cited about new red­shirt rule

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Colleges - By Matt Murschel Staff writer

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.”

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