Jun 14 / Rob

New NCAA Redshirt Rule Is Huge for FCS Programs

Sure, the NCAA is generally a corrupt and incompetent organization, but it finally got something right this week. The NCAA Division 1 Council passed a proposal allowing players to play in up to 4 games in a season and still use a redshirt year. It’s a good rule that will allow developing players to get some game action, without exhausting a year of eligibility. And it also gives those players thrust into only a few games another year to complete their degrees, which is supposed to be an important part of the student athlete experience.

This is a rule that benefits both players and coaches. Coaches gain the ability to give players some playing time to test the waters or fill in to back up injured players. And the players themselves gain a chance to have a more phased transition to the college game. Transitioning from high school to college is a big deal for many college students, but especially for football players. They go through al the same struggles are regular students, plus they need to adjust to the difference between taking the field against teenagers to competing against bigger, faster, and stronger grown men. This A redshirt year makes that adjustment much easier for many players. Now they can still take it, but have the experience to play a few games.

While this is a positive change for FBS programs, it’s absolutely huge for FCS teams. And that is of course due to the smaller roster size. With fewer scholarships, FCS coaches have had to be extra careful about pulling a players redshirt and exhausting his eligibility. Fill in for a game because the starter gets injured in the past and it would cost you a year. That’s no longer the case. The obvious example for JMU here is Cole Johnson. He came off the bench as a true freshmen when Bryan Schor got hurt against Villanova. Then he started against a completely overmatched Elon team the following week, before returning the the bench for the playoffs. As a result of playing fewer than 2 total games, he used an entire year of eligibility. Under the NCAA’s new rule, he could have counted that season as a redshirt year. The experience of being thrown into game action probably accelerated Johnson’s development at some level. He got a chance to perform under pressure and delivered. But should that limited game action have cost him a full season of eligibility? The NCAA seems to think it shouldn’t have. So from now on, it won’t.


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  1. ShadyP / Jun 14 2018

    For once a GREAT rule change from the NCAA that makes a lot of sense for all involved. Not sure it is that big a deal for FBS schools with 83 scholarships……but is a HUGE deal for FCS teams with only 65.

  2. OBXDuke1983 / Jun 14 2018

    So, is this rule not retroactive? Could a current player like Cole petition to get that year of eligibility back?

  3. ShadyP / Jun 14 2018

    Nope this is not retroactive. It is my understanding it is a line in the sand from this point forward.

    But theoretically if Cole plays in 4 or less games this season he could use this year as a ‘redshirt’ season…..just saying.

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