Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Cliff Grassmick/Daily Camera
The NCAA announced a landmark change to its redshirt rules on Wednesday, allowing Division I football players to participate in up to four games and still maintain a redshirt season.
Previously, players who participated in at least one play used a season of eligibility.
“I think this is great for the wellness of the football player,” Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre said. “It allows you to basically use your full 85-man (scholarship) roster. I think it’s great for the athlete and I think late in the season, it’ll be able to make teams still stay competitive, where when you had injuries in the past, sometimes it would change your whole season.”
The new rule will go into effect this season and is not retroactive. There are no current CU players that could have taken advantage of the rule retroactively anyway.
During the American Football Coaches Association convention in Charlotte in January, coaches were unanimous in their support of the change. However, the proposal was tabled in April when other sports governance groups expressed some concerns.
When he learned about the Division I Council approving the change on Wednesday, MacIntyre said, “I honestly was surprised it went through. I guess they decided it was very necessary for football because it’s the wellness of the athlete and it makes all the sense in the world to do this.”
The Division I Student-Athlete Experience Committee will take a further look into how it can apply a similar model for other sports.
As for how football coaches adjust to the new rule, MacIntyre said, “I think that would be on a situation-by-situation basis.”
There are several ways in which coaches can apply the new rule. MacIntyre said he has mainly thought about the need-based situations, where a redshirting player could fill in for an injured veteran for a game or two.
“You always have those situations where somebody gets beat up late in the year and you’re able to play these (young) guys, which is great,” he said.
The new rule will also open opportunities for coaches to give young players, particularly quarterbacks, some live repetitions in games. Giving a player such as Blake Stenstrom, CU’s true freshman quarterback this season, some late-game experience while keeping his redshirt, could be beneficial down the road.
“If you want to give a guy a few reps, that is a thought process we will look at,” MacIntyre said.
Coaches will have to be careful, MacIntyre said, to not use the four games too early in the season for a player they’d like to keep on redshirt, because an injury later in the year could lead to those players going over the four games and burning the redshirt.
Ultimately, however, MacIntyre believes CU and other teams would use the same basic strategy with true freshmen.
“If a young man is ready to play and he’s going to be in your two-deep, you’re going to go ahead and play him,” he said.
The new rule could impact several teams late in the season.
Teams in non-playoff bowls could use those games to give young players an opportunity to get game experience going into the next season. Teams out of bowl contention in the final few weeks of the regular season could also use those games for providing experience to their young players.
The new rule could impact some veterans, as well. A senior, for example, who has not used a redshirt season but gets injured within the first four games, could sit out the rest of the year as a redshirt and come back the next season.