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AFCA discusses national full-pad practice limits

PHOENIX -- The American Football Coaches Association is discussing a national standard to limit full-padded practices during season.

Many models are being discussed but AFCA executive director Grant Teaff told CBSSports.com Tuesday the standard would be “no more than two” such practices per week.

Any recommendation coming from the AFCA trustees who are meeting here this week would be only for best practices.

“Nobody at this point has attempted to make this [NCAA] legislation,” Teaff said.

National concern continues to grow over brain trauma issues as the NCAA and NFL fight multiple legal challenges. Teaff was part of player January safety summit during which limits as low as one such practice per week were discussed.

The balance of the coaches is adopting a standard that reflects a concern over brain trauma but allows them to prepare their teams properly.

“We want to make sure the perception is that the rest of the country understands these coaches are being proactive,” said trustee Craig Bohl, the Wyoming coach. “It's not the Oklahoma Drill every day. It's not the Junction Boys. We don't have our arms wrapped around it yet.”

Adopting even a "best practice" policy might be tough to enforce. The phrase is considered by some to be a business buzzword, an accepted way of doing things that has shown consistent results.

Asking coaches to adhere to a recommendation instead of a rule – especially during a big-game week – might be too much to ask. An overall limit of 26-28 days was discussed according to sources. The concept of “saving up” full-pad practices – to go beyond two per week -- for a particularly tough opponents was also discussed.

“We better get the perception out we're at least trying to get something to happen,” said trustee Tommy Tuberville, the Cincinnati coach. “We want you guys [media] to put it down where people can read it and say, ‘Look, they're doing something about it.' “

The Pac-12 and Ivy League are the only two Division I conferences to limit full-padded practices (two per week, in season). Coaches increasingly admit that they've limited full-padded practices for years because of injury concerns.

“The game has become so specialized you can't afford to get anybody hurt,” said trustee Todd Berry, the Louisiana-Monroe coach.

Berry provided his in-season practice that he said was fairly typical:

Sunday – Freshman scrimmage following game day.

Monday – off

Tuesday – Full-padded practice

Wednesday – shells (helmet and shoulder pads only).

Thursday – shells

Friday – no practice

Saturday – game

*The trustees also discussed establishing a national standard to report injuries. Coaches are currently left on their own in reporting injuries causing confusion for public, media and opposition.

The ACC is the only major conference that has a weekly standard (mandated two reports per week during the season). Teaff said a national standard would be established, in part, to help the media.


Anyone in need of a credential from all the BCS title games? Dennis Dodd has them. In three decades in the business, he's covered everything from the Olympics to Stanley Cup to conference realignment. Just get him on campus in a press box in the fall. His heart lies with college football.
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