There will never be a day in which the NCAA and its members relinquish control over its labor force, but Wednesday was a big day for common sense in college football.
In addition to a new rule that eliminates the need for a player to receive permission to contact in order to transfer, the NCAA also passed legislation allowing players to participate in up to four games in a season without burning a redshirt. The significance of the rule is a player can appear in those limited number of games at any point in the season. If, for example, a coach needs to dip into his depth chart at the end of the season, he can do so without burning a freshman's redshirt. This will be crucial during bowl season when younger players are often called upon to fill in gaps on the depth chart for various reasons.
"This change promotes not only fairness for college athletes, but also their health and well-being. Redshirt football student-athletes are more likely to remain engaged with the team, and starters will be less likely to feel pressure to play through injuries," said Miami athletic director and Division I Council chair Blake James in a statement. "Coaches will appreciate the additional flexibility and ability to give younger players an opportunity to participate in limited competition."
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Of course, injuries no longer have to dictate whether to use a redshirt or burn one. If a coach promised playing time to a touted incoming freshman, that coach can fulfill that promise to a degree without sacrificing a year of that player's eligibility.
In a perfect world, there would be far fewer college football eligibility rules, not more. But while there may never be a day in which a college football player has complete freedom over his eligibility, passing the redshirt rule was a big step forward in the brain trust actually, you know, using its noggin.