CHICAGO – In the past week, SEC commissioner Mike Slive and ACC commissioner John Swofford laid out some drastic proposals concerning the future of college football. On Thursday, a couple of Big Ten coaches and Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany threw their support beyond an old idea that might become new again: freshman ineligibility.
“One thing I’m for is taking away freshmen eligibility,” Nebraska's Bo Pelini said at the Big Ten’s Football Kickoff. “ I think that could be the best thing that could happen to college football and probably college basketball and athletics in general.
“It would be a tremendous move. I don’t know if there’s a lot of momentum for that. I think making freshmen ineligible would help in a multitude of different ways.”
Up until the early 1970s, freshmen were not eligible to play. Delany brought up the idea to his coaches during the Big Ten’s spring meetings.
“Taking that first year and letting them get acclimated on campus, taking pressures away of having to produce as heralded recruited players,” Iowa's Kirk Ferentz said. “I think those would be healthy for football.
“I don't know if [that’s] practical. I don't know if we can work those out. That might be a great thing that would slow the recruiting industry down too. At the end of the day it would be great for the prospects and student-athletes.”
Pelini also believes it would improve the recruiting process.
“Let’s slow this thing down a bit,” Pelini said. “Ultimately that would be one of the changes, would not only help football wise and academically, but I think it would help the recruiting process and help the sport in a number of ways.
“There’s a pretty big division what people think on that subject, but I like that idea.”
Pelini also said he’s for proposals that would increase the minimum GPA for incoming freshmen from 2.0 to 2.5 but cautions “you have to be careful you don’t limit opportunities for kids.”
Ferentz also supports increasing the GPA for incoming recruits, while LSU’s Les Miles and South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier said last week they were against higher GPAs for recruits.
“The important thing is for young people to understand at a young age when they're in high school doing well, doing well early, instead of trying to catch up the last couple years,” Ferentz said. “It's going to take a cooperative effort from a lot of different folks.”