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College football coaches 'unanimously' want redshirts able to play 4 games, address other policies

Updated Jan 10, 2:30 PM; Posted Jan 10, 2:33 PM

Louisiana Monroe coach Todd Berry, right, talks with quarterback Kolton Browning (15) during an NCAA college football game against Auburn on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

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By James Crepea

jcrepea@al.com

For the second straight year, the American Football Coaches Association left its annual convention with full-throated support of legislation to allow players who are redshirting to appear in up to four games.

The ACC has proposed such legislation, which has been discussed for years, that would go into effect next year.

"This is all about the student-athlete and if anybody cares about the student-athlete this is the first thing that should be passed," AFCA executive director Todd Berry said Wednesday. "... Very rarely will you find any coaching group or probably any part of society that is unanimous across every level. This week, just like last year, we went across every level and every level voted for this because they recognize the impact that they're having on these kids' lives. They just don't want to be put in that situation (of playing an athlete in one game and burning their redshirt late in a season) or put the kid in that situation. This needs to pass and needs to pass right now."

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Berry, formerly the coach at ULM, stressed there was absolutely no dissent at any level of the college coaching ranks to the change.

"We've taken a stance, two years in a row, where it's been unanimous," he said. "That just doesn't happen, ever."

Berry said he's not heard a valid argument against the proposal, whic will be among the legislation reviewed by the NCAA Football Oversight Committee at the annual NCAA convention next week in Indianapolis.

"Until this thing was brought up last year, I don't know that anybody looked at this as a thought process and said, 'You know what you're right, we're not playing 10 games anymore,'" Berry said. "We're asking these kids to play 15. We want to keep them safe.

"The only argument that I've heard is that the other sports are going to want to do the same thing. Well if it's right, then it's right. If it's right for the student-athlete, what's wrong with the other sports doing the same thing? ... This is the time. It's antiquated, it's archaic and things change. We're not asking for a fifth year, we're not trying to impact how people view college, we're trying to protect this young kid that it looked like he was going to not play and then he got thrown out there."

The AFCA addressed a series of other issues, including staff size, players being able to transfer within the FBS without sitting out a year and various aspects of spring recruiting.

Support staff size has been a topic of conversation for several years across the FBS and Berry said the coaches want "fairness" and refined definitions of "vagueness" in regulations as to what is and is not permissible for support staffers to do in terms of recruiting.

"When it comes to the support staff sizing, the things that were most importance to us were that there is fairness in practice, that there's fairness on game day and then there's fairness in recruiting. Really in that order," Berry said. "Outside of that, if someone wants to have specialized individuals that are doing specialized things with the coaches, quite honestly that's just fine with us. We're OK with that."

While Berry said the right number of support staffers is "up to debate," there is a proposed concept of having FBS programs limited to 30 people who can participate in on-campus recruiting and written electronic correspondence.

As for transfers, Berry said there are "major concerns" about the possibility of players being able to change FBS schools without having to sit out.

In October, the NCAA announced proposed legislation to permit athletes who meet a certain academic threshold to have immediate eligibility would not be considered for 2017-18. There is a proposal to eliminate a coaches' ability to restrict aid to athletes transferring to other schools.

"Our coaches really like the current roles," Berry said. "They think if a young person is unhappy to the point that they want to leave and make sure they can go play they can always move down to another level, move from FBS to FCS, still play a high quality of ball. ... Understanding that the school that you're going to, that should be important to you, this is not just about football, this about the university.

"That's important to our coaches, we've talked about that from a student-athlete standpoint. We've also looked at some of these places where they have open transfers: state of Florida, state of Georgia, where they can go from high school to high school to high school and what has happened in those states. There's some pretty good - and I think we need to learn from some of those things."

The NCAA Transfer Working Group was formed to review and address various aspects of transfer rules, which have come under greater scrutiny as coaches and administrators, who are free to change schools as they please, continue to earn increasing compensation and attempt to place greater restrictions on players wishing to leave.

"You'd like to think the student-athlete is coming to that university because he loves the university ad he wants to get an education form there," Berry said. "Coaches and athletic directors and all the other people, librarians, they come not because they necessarily love the university, because they're paying them; it's my job. I think that you run into some of that. The other thing is when coaches leave, they don't get to leave for free. I leave and I go to XYZ school, then generally I owe X million dollars back to the university that I just left."

Berry said "most" of the FBS coaches still support the early signing period because it brought "more clarity and transparency," but the "majority" are against spring official visits, which was another part of last year's massive recruiting legislation package.

"They think it's too early, that it's too long," Berry said. "A young person could conceivably take five official visits thinking this is wonderful, but understand that these are business decisions by everybody and those five visits, just because you have a visit doesn't mean that necessarily you have a scholarship. We have concerns quite honestly for student-athletes that they could take five visits because of the duration of that, and then not end up with a scholarship and then come next December look around and say 'I've already burned all my visits and I don't have a scholarship.'"

The AFCA also supports a change to allow preseason squad sizes to increase to 110 from 105 and was against a proposal to eliminate restrictions on recruiting correspondence.

James Crepea is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @JamesCrepea.

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Don't know why they don't set it that a player has 5 years to play a certain amount of games. Theoretically a players could play in 60 games in 4 years (15 per year) on the high end and 48 (12 per year) on the low end. Figure most teams will avg 13. So every player should have 5 years to participate in 52 games. Shouldn't be that hard to keep up with. Nobody is redshirted, just everyone has up to 5 years to play 52.

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I couldn't agree more with this. There is no reason that Malik Willis isn't currently a Redshirt Freshman...very upsetting that he burned a year. Now he'll be a sophomore and he'll burn another year if Jarrett stays for his senior season. Meaning Malik Willis will be a SR before he ever gets a chance at starting.

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48 minutes ago, Zeek said:

I couldn't agree more with this. There is no reason that Malik Willis isn't currently a Redshirt Freshman...very upsetting that he burned a year. Now he'll be a sophomore and he'll burn another year if Jarrett stays for his senior season. Meaning Malik Willis will be a SR before he ever gets a chance at starting.

People keep speaking of Willis as if he is a 5* prospect who is warming the bench. He was a 3* with potential who was recruited specifically to be a back-up QB for the much higher ranking QBs we are signing (Stidham, Gatewood, Nix). The odds of Willis ever starting a game, unless we have an injury or it's a thank you gift against a cupcake are pretty slim.

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1 hour ago, 80Tiger said:

Don't know why they don't set it that a player has 5 years to play a certain amount of games. Theoretically a players could play in 60 games in 4 years (15 per year) on the high end and 48 (12 per year) on the low end. Figure most teams will avg 13. So every player should have 5 years to participate in 52 games. Shouldn't be that hard to keep up with. Nobody is redshirted, just everyone has up to 5 years to play 52.

Interesting idea. I would add that post season games shouldn't count, keep your 52 cap, and add an automatic 6th year (but stick with 52 games) for any player who is unable to play do to injury for 8 or more consecutive games. 

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10 minutes ago, lionheartkc said:

People keep speaking of Willis as if he is a 5* prospect who is warming the bench. He was a 3* with potential who was recruited specifically to be a back-up QB for the much higher ranking QBs we are signing (Stidham, Gatewood, Nix). The odds of Willis ever starting a game, unless we have an injury or it's a thank you gift against a cupcake are pretty slim.

Whether he is or isn't capable of starting we might never know but it's hard to argue that it wouldn't be awesome to have redshirted him this year.

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1 minute ago, Zeek said:

Whether he is or isn't capable of starting we might never know but it's hard to argue that it wouldn't be awesome to have redshirted him this year.

I don't think it's hard to argue at all... in fact, I think there are several people who would argue it much harder than me as they wanted to see him get more play time. In any case, there is one argument that can't be refuted and negates any possibility of him being able to redshirt this year.  He was our ONLY other QB outside of our scout team. You can't redshirt #2 if unless you want your scout team QB coming in if your QB loses his helmet, has an equipment issue, or has a minor injury. Also, if you do redshirt #2, you have to play #1 during trash time which significantly increases the chance of an injury as not only does it give the opponent more chances to take a shot a him, but he has back-ups blocking for him while they do.

Incidentally, had Sean not blown it, he probably would have redshirted.

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1 hour ago, 80Tiger said:

Don't know why they don't set it that a player has 5 years to play a certain amount of games. Theoretically a players could play in 60 games in 4 years (15 per year) on the high end and 48 (12 per year) on the low end. Figure most teams will avg 13. So every player should have 5 years to participate in 52 games. Shouldn't be that hard to keep up with. Nobody is redshirted, just everyone has up to 5 years to play 52.

That's interesting...would mean some upperclassmen sitting out games against directional schools...but young projects getting to play in them. 

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7 minutes ago, AUDevil said:

That's interesting...would mean some upperclassmen sitting out games against directional schools...but young projects getting to play in them. 

Does Gus know about this? Does he have time to change his vote? 

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22 hours ago, lionheartkc said:

Incidentally, had Sean not blown it, he probably would have redshirted.

Totally agree with the top portion of you post.  To redshirt Willis would have been a mistake, it is interesting that Gus was still planning on redshirting him even though he suspended SW for two games and we went into the Clemson game with our scout team QB as our backup. 

As to your statement about SW (which was totally uncalled for), Gus had a QB in SW that he relied on to save his bacon through two seasons even though he (probably) was forced to play.  The plan was to redshirt MW and when SW is off his suspension for the Mercer game, Gus burns the redshirt of MW and SW does not play.  So, how do you think a QB that has lost his starting position and apparently has been demoted to #3 behind a true freshman is going to react when the HC knows he has an issue?  SW should have been on suicide watch, not left fall back on his “issue”.  Yeah, Gus did everything he could to help SW.

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1 minute ago, I_M4_AU said:

Totally agree with the top portion of you post.  To redshirt Willis would have been a mistake, it is interesting that Gus was still planning on redshirting him even though he suspended SW for two games and we went into the Clemson game with our scout team QB as our backup. 

As to your statement about SW (which was totally uncalled for), Gus had a QB in SW that he relied on to save his bacon through two seasons even though he (probably) was forced to play.  The plan was to redshirt MW and when SW is off his suspension for the Mercer game, Gus burns the redshirt of MW and SW does not play.  So, how do you think a QB that has lost his starting position and apparently has been demoted to #3 behind a true freshman is going to react when the HC knows he has an issue?  SW should have been on suicide watch, not left fall back on his “issue”.  Yeah, Gus did everything he could to help SW.

I think you misinterpreted what I said. Had Sean not blown it (gotten kicked off of the team), he would have been QB #2 and Malik would have red shirted. I don't think there ever was a chance of Sean being demoted... he was the better QB, and Gus isn't the kind of coach to demote a player for off the field reasons. He might not play them for a game or two as punishment, but they always come back in the same spot they earned on the field.

I don't get why you think I'm attacking Sean. As you might recall, I was the one who defended him when people were piling on his play on the field. He, however, did something egregious enough, enough times, that he got kicked off the team. That's 100% on him and there is no sugar coating it. I, for one, really wanted to see what he could do in Chip's offense. I think people would have been pleasantly surprised.

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1 minute ago, lionheartkc said:

I think you misinterpreted what I said. Had Sean not blown it (gotten kicked off of the team), he would have been QB #2 and Malik would have red shirted. I don't think there ever was a chance of Sean being demoted... he was the better QB, and Gus isn't the kind of coach to demote a player for off the field reasons. He might not play them for a game or two as punishment, but they always come back in the same spot they earned on the field.

I don't get why you think I'm attacking Sean. As you might recall, I was the one who defended him when people were piling on his play on the field. He, however, did something egregious enough, enough times, that he got kicked off the team. That's 100% on him and there is no sugar coating it. I, for one, really wanted to see what he could do in Chip's offense. I think people would have been pleasantly surprised.

No, I didn’t misinterpret what you said.  Gus burnt MW redshirt before SW got kicked of the team.  Leting MW play during the Mercer game and not SW was the catalyst for the whole thing.  The conspiracy theorist in me thinks Gus found SW under the influence and offered him a ride in his BMW i8 and dropped him off in front of the police station.

Gus rode that kid like a rented mule for two years. The kid gave everything he could to play for Auburn and when Gus had a QB he could rely on, he kicks the kid to the curb.  AU has policies to help kids like Sean and I’m sure he was afforded help.  It was up to SW to accept the help, that is on him, no question.  The whole thing could have been handled better.

The reason I believe you are attacking SW is you keep bring him up in a less then a positive light when it is totally unnecessary, again my perspective.  The whole SW experience is probably the one thing that has soured me on Gus more than any other, and there is a lot of “other”.

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23 hours ago, AUDevil said:

That's interesting...would mean some upperclassmen sitting out games against directional schools...but young projects getting to play in them. 

That is very interesting. 

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3 hours ago, I_M4_AU said:

No, I didn’t misinterpret what you said.  Gus burnt MW redshirt before SW got kicked of the team.  Leting MW play during the Mercer game and not SW was the catalyst for the whole thing.  The conspiracy theorist in me thinks Gus found SW under the influence and offered him a ride in his BMW i8 and dropped him off in front of the police station.

Gus rode that kid like a rented mule for two years. The kid gave everything he could to play for Auburn and when Gus had a QB he could rely on, he kicks the kid to the curb.  AU has policies to help kids like Sean and I’m sure he was afforded help.  It was up to SW to accept the help, that is on him, no question.  The whole thing could have been handled better.

The reason I believe you are attacking SW is you keep bring him up in a less then a positive light when it is totally unnecessary, again my perspective.  The whole SW experience is probably the one thing that has soured me on Gus more than any other, and there is a lot of “other”.

Word from everybody around the program is that Sean shot himself in the foot repeatedly, after Gus had offered him second and third and fourth chances. I used to feel like you but I've been convinced that Sean has nobody to blame but himself. 

I do agree that Gus should have given MW more game reps or just left his redshirt on. 

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3 hours ago, I_M4_AU said:

No, I didn’t misinterpret what you said.  Gus burnt MW redshirt before SW got kicked of the team.  Leting MW play during the Mercer game and not SW was the catalyst for the whole thing.  The conspiracy theorist in me thinks Gus found SW under the influence and offered him a ride in his BMW i8 and dropped him off in front of the police station.

Gus rode that kid like a rented mule for two years. The kid gave everything he could to play for Auburn and when Gus had a QB he could rely on, he kicks the kid to the curb.  AU has policies to help kids like Sean and I’m sure he was afforded help.  It was up to SW to accept the help, that is on him, no question.  The whole thing could have been handled better.

The reason I believe you are attacking SW is you keep bring him up in a less then a positive light when it is totally unnecessary, again my perspective.  The whole SW experience is probably the one thing that has soured me on Gus more than any other, and there is a lot of “other”.

Too busy to write a thorough reply, so I'll just say "What @McLoofus said".

The one thing I will take a moment to say that it appears needs to be addressed is how we handle players who are dealing with long term injuries. There seems to be a shocking percentage of them who end up in trouble, which tells me that we don't have the emotional support that they need in place when they aren't able to play to help them get through it.

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1 minute ago, lionheartkc said:

Too busy to write a thorough reply, so I'll just say "What @McLoofus said".

The one thing I will take a moment to say that it appears needs to be addressed is how we handle players who are dealing with long term injuries. There seems to be a shocking percentage of them who end up in trouble, which tells me that we don't have the emotional support that they need in place when they aren't able to play to help them get through it.

Very interesting point. And while he didn't get into trouble, I get the impression that Malik Miller might not have optimized his downtime, either (strictly from a health/conditioning standpoint). Something to keep an eye on for sure. 

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On 1/11/2018 at 9:42 AM, 80Tiger said:

Don't know why they don't set it that a player has 5 years to play a certain amount of games. Theoretically a players could play in 60 games in 4 years (15 per year) on the high end and 48 (12 per year) on the low end. Figure most teams will avg 13. So every player should have 5 years to participate in 52 games. Shouldn't be that hard to keep up with. Nobody is redshirted, just everyone has up to 5 years to play 52.

That's a thought....But now folks are clamoring to expand the CFP which theoretically "could" have a team playing 16 freaking games a year if they somehow make to the NC game.  There are teams that would push for more than a 52 game cap,  although those teams are usually playing at an elite level where their players are gone before those 5 yrs are up anyway.

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1 hour ago, McLoofus said:

Word from everybody around the program is that Sean shot himself in the foot repeatedly, after Gus had offered him second and third and fourth chances. I used to feel like you but I've been convinced that Sean has nobody to blame but himself. 

I do agree that Gus should have given MW more game reps or just left his redshirt on. 

No where did I say Sean gets a pass for his actions.

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5 minutes ago, I_M4_AU said:

No where did I say Sean gets a pass for his actions.

I went back and read and I guess I misunderstood. I'm still a little unclear, but apologies nonetheless. 

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16 hours ago, keesler said:

That's a thought....But now folks are clamoring to expand the CFP which theoretically "could" have a team playing 16 freaking games a year if they somehow make to the NC game.  There are teams that would push for more than a 52 game cap,  although those teams are usually playing at an elite level where their players are gone before those 5 yrs are up anyway.

As someone mentioned above, make the cap on regular season games. Postseason games do not count towards the total. 

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18 hours ago, McLoofus said:

Word from everybody around the program is that Sean shot himself in the foot repeatedly, after Gus had offered him second and third and fourth chances. I used to feel like you but I've been convinced that Sean has nobody to blame but himself. 

I do agree that Gus should have given MW more game reps or just left his redshirt on. 

I know I haven’t explained myself well, so here goes.  To the bolded part, I have no doubt that Gus and Auburn University gave Sean several chances to turn himself around.  The problem with that is you are now enabling Sean’s actions.  If Gus had another viable option at QB, Sean would have not played.  If you are unaware, enabling the action of a person with the issues Sean has is the worst thing to do.  For two years Auburn University enabled Sean and Sean knew it.  He had Gus over a barrel and there was no reason for Sean to “toe the line” as Gus could not afford to discipline him with suspension or replacing him.

IIRC, Sean started his first game against MSU in 2015 and two games later we had our bye week and Gus opened up the QB competition again and the rumor was JJ was going to win back his position.  I really didn’t understand it at the time, but it’s much clearer now.  Sean was still the starter after the bye week.  The start of the 2016 season sealed it for Sean to not need to change his ways no matter how Gus disciplined him.

Along comes Stidham and Gus now can afford to suspend Sean and stop enabling him.  Great plan, but you could predict that Sean was going to act out and he did.  Auburn University failed Sean emotionally, but it wasn’t just Auburn, it was his team mates, friends and parents as well.  It was a sad situation, but the bottom line is; it’s Sean’s burden to bare and he can’t change until he wants to change.

This is my prespective only, you can agree or not.  If you are an AU homer, you can believe Gus gave him ample chances to change, if you look past what the insiders tell you, it’s a darker place.

Hope this helps.

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6 minutes ago, I_M4_AU said:

I know I haven’t explained myself well, so here goes.  To the bolded part, I have no doubt that Gus and Auburn University gave Sean several chances to turn himself around.  The problem with that is you are now enabling Sean’s actions.  If Gus had another viable option at QB, Sean would have not played.  If you are unaware, enabling the action of a person with the issues Sean has is the worst thing to do.  For two years Auburn University enabled Sean and Sean knew it.  He had Gus over a barrel and there was no reason for Sean to “toe the line” as Gus could not afford to discipline him with suspension or replacing him.

IIRC, Sean started his first game against MSU in 2015 and two games later we had our bye week and Gus opened up the QB competition again and the rumor was JJ was going to win back his position.  I really didn’t understand it at the time, but it’s much clearer now.  Sean was still the starter after the bye week.  The start of the 2016 season sealed it for Sean to not need to change his ways no matter how Gus disciplined him.

Along comes Stidham and Gus now can afford to suspend Sean and stop enabling him.  Great plan, but you could predict that Sean was going to act out and he did.  Auburn University failed Sean emotionally, but it wasn’t just Auburn, it was his team mates, friends and parents as well.  It was a sad situation, but the bottom line is; it’s Sean’s burden to bare and he can’t change until he wants to change.

This is my prespective only, you can agree or not.  If you are an AU homer, you can believe Gus gave him ample chances to change, if you look past what the insiders tell you, it’s a darker place.

Hope this helps.

Thanks for the explanation. You could be right. I'm certainly not close enough to the situation to know.

And I'm no homer or Gus apologist, nor are some of the insiders who have provided what little information I've had available on which to base my paper thin opinion. We are sometimes called bashers, actually. Just so you know.

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1 minute ago, McLoofus said:

Thanks for the explanation. You could be right. I'm certainly not close enough to the situation to know.

And I'm no homer or Gus apologist, nor are some of the insiders who have provided what little information I've had available on which to base my paper thin opinion. We are sometimes called bashers, actually. Just so you know.

Yeah, I know you’re not a homer or Gus apologist and that’s the reason I replied.  We, as fans, can only form our opinions by what we see and insider information.  I know some of the insiders do not forward the coaching staffs narative, but their information is in the moment and I have a habit of trying to go back to the reason the moment happened.  If we are called bashers, I think I’m in good company.

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