AFCA executive director Todd Berry laid out the organization's legislative agenda in a press conference to close the convention last week, and over the hour-long session Berry saved his strongest stance for his campaign to change the redshirt rule.
The new rule would allow players to play in up to four games -- any four games -- and retain their redshirt.
Berry said this vote has been unanimous across all levels two years in a row, which never happens. “This needs to pass and it needs to pass right now,” Berry said.
It sounds as if Berry -- and the coaches he represents -- are going to get their wish.
Mitch Sherman of ESPN polled stakeholders involved and found a similar level of support at the administrative and student-athlete level. He wrote:
This week at the NCAA convention, student-athletes and administrators voiced approval for the proposal, which previously received the widespread endorsement of coaches.
The appeal is obvious. A coach battling depth issues wouldn't be faced with the Sophie's Choice of shortening a player's career by one year just to get through a single game or exposing a tired player to injury in order of preserving a younger player's redshirt. Those situations are unfair for all involved and there's no reason not to change them.
“I don’t think it’s right for a young man to lose a redshirt over what may be a need for a team, in a competitive situation, to have to find a player to play,” Miami AD Blake James told ESPN.
Of course, this being the NCAA, that didn't stop some from dreaming up fantasy scenarios in order to fear-monger.
Here's Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby: “I think it’s got a lot of merit,” Bowlsby said, “but there are some hooks in it. I don’t know how comfortable people are with, suddenly in the last three games and a bowl game, you go from being a guy who’s on the scout team to [a prominent role].”
Changing the rule will have wide-ranging competitive implications, though. Think of the coach juggling a quarterback derby. Now, instead of making an educated guess on the last day of training camp of whether the true freshman is really ready to overtake the fourth-year junior for the starting quarterback job, now he can extend the competition through the first third of the season without gambling the freshman's redshirt away.
Or, in the most cited example, West Virginia running back freshman running back Marcell Pettaway can come off the bench as a band-aid while WVU's veteran running backs nurse injuries -- as he did in Week 13 of 2015 -- without losing a year for being a team player.
The new rule can't become official until April, when the Division I Council -- which James, quoted above in support of the rule -- chairs.
Elsewhere, it sounds as if the proposal to allow a 1-time chance for players to transfer within FBS without sitting out a year is officially dead, at least for this year.
As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.