New redshirt proposal would allow athletes to play four games, regardless of injury

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- College football players may get a little more playing time in the not-too-distant future -- even though their eligibility will remain the same.

In an announcement Wednesday, AFCA executive director Todd Berry said a proposal has been developed that would allow a player to be given redshirt so long as he's played in four games or less in a season. Those four games could come at anytime -- beginning of the season, middle or end -- so long as he "doesn't play again for any reason that season."

The proposal would eliminate medical redshirts and their subjective nature. Under the proposal, whether a student-athletes plays in four games or does not, the timetable of five years to play four seasons would remain intact.

All the while, the NCAA wouldn't be able to burn a redshirt because, say, a backup quarterback comes in during garbage time during a game in late October. Currently, a player can receive a medical redshirt if he's competed in fewer than 30 percent of the games in a season or three games, whichever is greater.

"Little Johnny, he's not ready to play. But Little Johnny's mom and dad are in the stands. Every data point says when a kid is engaged in football during his collegiate years, the better he does academically, the better he does socially," Berry told CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd.

"You got a chance to put Little Johnny out there at the close of a ballgame. So what? That shouldn't burn his eligibility. If Little Johnny goes out and doesn't play in the first five games because he wasn't ready to play and then all the sudden you stick him out there in the sixth game of the season and he tears his knee up and is gone for the season, he's burned his eligibility. That is not fair to Little Johnny."

The proposal is a replacement for medical hardships only and has nothing to do with a player who switches schools to attend to a sick family member or other cases in which a year might be lost to the detriment of the player. Players would still need a waiver for a sixth season of eligibility.

The proposal makes sense on a couple of levels. For one, it's a compromise that looks and feels like the five-to-play-four, but in spirit is more like Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher's idea to give players five years of eligibility.

It also comes at an opportune time in the wake of players like Christian McCaffrey and Leonard Fournette opting to skip bowl games while concentrating on the NFL Draft. In these instances, redshirt players could prepare during bowl practices and participate in the game without losing a year of eligibility.

CBS Sports Writer

Ben Kercheval joined CBS Sports in 2016 and has been covering college football since 2010. Before CBS, Ben worked at Bleacher Report, UPROXX Sports and NBC Sports. As a long-suffering North Texas graduate,... Full Bio

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