The NCAA did something pretty good in allowing college football players to play in up to four games without burning their redshirts. The redshirt rule previously was pretty punitive, and basically made it so that if a freshman stepped on the field at all, his eligibility clock started, and only a medical hardship could retroactively grant a redshirt year.
But there are a few benefits this new redshirt rule will create within the game because of the flexibility it’ll offer.
1. We get an extra year of really fun players.
It takes some suspension of disbelief — and it’s a little selfish, if you want the best players to earn what they’re worth in the pros — but an extra year of fun players is good for college football. A glimpse of them in their freshman years to tease the imagination, then four more full years after that, if we’re lucky. It’ll be interesting to see how this affects scholarship math in years to come.
2. It keeps freshmen invested, and it could actually do something to reduce transfers.
The small thing about freshmen getting to actually play in a year that would otherwise be a lost one: they get to stay invested both on and off the field. Of course, players are expected to bring their A-game every day and blah blah blah, but human nature is what it is. For 18-year-old players who know they aren’t going to hit the field, some apathy can set in.
And because people love to handwring about transfers, showing a player how he fits into a scheme is a way for a coach to prove the school has a plan for him, which could potentially prevent him from transferring. That might end up being problematic and something to hold over a player’s head, but allow me some optimism here.
3. Freshmen can ball out with minimal pressure.
One of the biggest things that freshmen aren’t used to is the speed of the game on the college level. There’s no real good way to consistently simulate game speed for them in practice, especially once the season gets started. beyond scout team. Even in scout team spots, a lot of teams aren‘t doing full tackling to the ground.
But putting them on the field in low-pressure situations is a good way to let them get their feet wet.
4. A lot of games just got suddenly much more interesting.
That weekend before rivalry week when the entire SEC plays cupcakes? Well, at least now you can see plenty of freshmen from that highly touted recruiting class you had in February.
Those meaningless bowl games that a few players have been skipping? Freshmen can get massaged into those, with the added lead time of a month of bowl practice.
And there’s now a little bit of opportunity for the garden-variety blowout.
5. Freshman specialists, most importantly extremely fat guys, can now play gimmick fullback with impunity.
Ok, yeah, now there are increased opportunities for players to get in on special teams plays and sub packages and all that good stuff.
But the biggest benefit is seeing that 320-pound defensive tackle who isn’t ready to play run defense on first down, but who is ready to go out for a goal line pass like this.
6. College football just got very slightly harder to predict.
If you’re gambling on these games in the near future, have fun with the increased variance that’ll come with more freshmen playing. Backdoor covers for everyone.