Every now and again the NCAA gets together and decides to do something other than embarrass its self. This is one such occasion.
In summary, today the NCAA announced that starting this season, players can appear in up to four games without losing their ability to redshirt (if they haven’t used a redshirt year already).
This is great news for a program like Purdue that likes to redshirt a significant portion of their freshman class every season.
In the 2017 class Purdue signed 24 players and redshirted 13 players in the class. Essentially, Purdue played the season utilizing 72 of its allotted 85 scholarships.
This rule doesn’t really change much for the offense and defensive linemen that redshirt to get bigger, but it could make a big difference at the skill positions.
For instance, Keyron Catlett played in 7 games on special teams last season. Purdue absolutely needed him numbers wise, but I’m not sure 7 games of special teams is a great use of a season. With the new rule, instead of 7 games of Catlett, you could get 4 games of Catlett and 4 games of Tyler Hamilton (a redshirted WR/KR from the 2017 class). This would save Catlett’s redshirt and give both players experience without risking an under utilized season.
Mostly this rule will effect special teams, but there was one particularly thorny situation Purdue could have avoided last year if this new rule was in effect. After David Blough went down, Pudue was extremely thin at the quarterback position, and then Elijah Sindelar blew an ACL.
Miraculously, Sindelar was able to finish the season with a blown wheel, but if couldn’t go, Purdue was stuck with the choice of either Aaron Banks or pulling Nick Sipe’s redshirt. This rule would have made Purdue’s choice significantly easier. In fact, it would have been interesting to see if Brohm, at minimum, would have gone with Sipe in the bowl game, allowing Sindelar to have surgery after the Bucket game, giving him an extra month to heal for 2018 season.
In terms of the 2018 recruiting class, I expect Purdue’s group of freshman linebackers to all at least get 4 games. Purdue is thin at the position and being able to use freshman on special teams should allow the starters to avoid injury in that facet of the game. Purdue might also be able to find a guy that they decide to play instead of redshirt in that group. The same holds true with the wide receivers and defensive backs from the 2018 class. I think you’ll see all of those guys for at least 4 games next year, if only to help out on kick coverage.
Non-CFP bowl games also just got a little more interesting. There is a growing trend of big name players sitting out non-consequential bowl games. There is no reason to gamble millions of dollars on a game no one particularly cares about. The new rule will at least allow teams to showcase their new talent in these games, possibly helping increase fan interest, while at the same time giving freshman valuable playing time.
Finally, this should help the redshirted players stay engaged throughout the year. These guys don’t know when they may be called upon to contribute, so they have to be engaged on a week to week basis. The redshirted guys can no longer afford to hang out in the back, knowing that the week to week game plans don’t involve them.
The NCAA is usually the hottest of hot garbage smoldering in the June sun, but in this particular case, they managed to get something right. Hopefully this is just a taste of more common sense NCAA legislation in the coming years.