NCAA Football redshirt rule needs tweaking

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When the NCAA announced changes to its redshirt rule for players back in June 2018, it was hailed as a boon for both players and coaches.

Players may now participate in up to four games without losing a year of eligibility. Previously, a single play in a game could cost a player his redshirt.

Now, it’s looking like it could be another advantage for Power 5 schools.

Take the example of Houston quarterback D’Eriq King.

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In three games against FBS opponents — the Cougars beat Prairie View A&M, an FCS school, on Sept. 7 — King rushed for 313 yards and four touchdowns and threw five touchdown passes with just one interception. He was already looking like the latest Houston star behind center.

But with the Cougars starting the season 1-3, King decided to take a redshirt season. Although, he said at the time that he was staying at Houston, some expressed doubts.

“There isn’t any way in hell that kid is going to be a Houston Cougar next year,” a major college coordinator told Sports Illustrated.

Later, King’s father, Eric, told a Houston television station that his son was going to enter the transfer protocol.

Could this make Group of 5 schools essentially farm clubs for the big boys?

As a graduate transfer, King would be able to play immediately for another school.

King was joined by teammate Keith Corbin. The wide receiver also decided to sit out after four games.

“That whole story with D’Eriq King blows my mind,” a Group of 5 assistant coach told SI. “What if some big school comes in and says, ‘Why don’t you come here to play?’”

After Rutgers also got off to a disappointing 1-3 start, Scarlet Knights quarterback Art Sitowski and running back Raheem Blackshear made similar decisions. (Sitowski did agree to be an emergency backup.)

Chuck Culpepper, writing in the Washington Post, dubbed with the week after the fourth game of the season “Week 4.5,” or “Redshirt Week.”

Just prior to Redshirt Week, Houston lost to Tulane on a last-second, 53-yard touchdown pass. The receiver who hauled in the winning score was Jalen McClesky, himself a transfer from Oklahoma State the previous year.

McClesky’s former coach, Mike Gundy, said after the wide receiver’s transfer that the new rule should be tweaked.

“This new rule, with how liberal it is to just get up and walk out, is going to start to show whatever side of an ugly face it has in the future, in my opinion,” Gundy said at the time, according to the Washington Post. “And I’m not against the rule. I’m good. But they just need to tinker with it a little bit to make sure that it’s better for everybody involved if a player just wants to leave. And everybody’s been wanting that, right?”

Letting players make more of their own decisions is a good thing. But there are teammates and fans to think about. The NCAA, along with coaches and administrators, need to consider many factors when tailoring the rules.

As Rutgers interim coach Nunzio Campanile told SI, “I guess that’s the way the world is now. I think this is a game about your team, and it’s about sacrificing personal accomplishment for the success of the team. But that’s the world they live in and they have a lot of people telling them, ‘Worry about you, worry about you.’”

Friday

Colorado +20.5 at Oregon, Total: 58.5: This is not your typical Ducks team. Aside from a second-half collapse in the opening game against Auburn, Oregon has been led by its defense.

The Ducks have had one big offensive explosion this season — a 77-6 obliteration of Nevada — but have topped 30 points in a game just one other time. And they’ve held their past four opponents to six, three, six and seven points. Oregon is No. 7 in the country in scoring defense (10.5 points per game) and 10th in overall defense (262.8 yards).

Since a 52-31 win over Colorado State, the Buffaloes have played in two overtime games and two others than were decided by five or fewer points.

Colorado has enough offense to keep it close. COLORADO and UNDER

Saturday

Michigan State at Wisconsin -10.5: Ohio State’s J.K. Dobbins showed what a top-level running back can do against a normally stout Spartans defense as he ran for 172 yards and a touchdown in the Buckeyes’ 34-10 win on Saturday.

The undefeated Badgers have perhaps the top running back in the nation in junior Jonathan Taylor. In Wisconsin’s last big game, Taylor rushed for 204 yards as the Badgers routed Michigan.

Ohio State covered against the Spartans laying about three touchdowns. Wisconsin is favored by less than half of that. WISCONSIN

Wyoming at San Diego State -4: The Aztecs are a bad matchup for the Cowboys. San Diego State, which is eighth in scoring defense and 16th in overall defense, is particularly good at stopping the run, giving up just 45.4 yards per game. Wyoming is a run-first team. Quarterback Sean Chambers is the leading rusher for the Cowboys, who have four different players with at least 200 yards on the ground.

Through the air is another story for Wyoming. Chambers is completing less than 39 percent of his passes and is averaging only 116 yards per game. SAN DIEGO STATE

Last week: 1-3

Season: 8-13

 

About the Author

Ched Whitney

Ched Whitney has been a journalist in Las Vegas since 1994. He worked for the Las Vegas Review-Journal for 18 years, where he was the paper’s art director for 12. Since becoming a freelancer in 2012, his work has appeared at ESPN.com, AOL, The Seattle Times and UNLV Magazine, among others. ​

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