Syracuse Orange football fans are fully aware of the impact of injuries on a team’s season. Too often in the last few years have we watched as the Orange have seen the potential of a bowl game disappear until a wave of injuries. A new proposal by the American Football Coaches Association could help if this happens again in the future.
The AFCA proposal would allow athletes to play in up to four games while still maintaining their redshirt option for that season. Currently an athlete loses the season of eligibility as soon as they take the field during any game (unless an injury prevents them from playing in more than four games and they receive a medical redshirt).
At this week’s ACC Meetings, the conference’s football coaches voiced their support for the proposal and most pointed to the fact that this could help the sport in the area of player safety. Florida State Seminoles Head Coach Jimbo Fisher put the proposed change in context
“I think for player safety, it’s a good rule,” Fisher said on Tuesday. “If a guy has developed and is ready to play — he might not have been ready to play early — and all of a sudden you’ve had some injuries. Those last four games, whether he’s on special teams or he incorporates himself into some playing time or has matured, I think it’s a significant thing to do.”
Now, coaches have always had the opportunity to insert players late in the season, but they had to weigh the benefits of getting the player experience, or keeping the redshirt season intact. This proposal removes that from the equation. It means that a team which is already missing players, doesn’t have to ask a player with a minor injury to “tough it out” for the squad. A staff doesn’t have to rush a player back from injury (especially concussions) because there is no other option, and it allows them to use blowouts to let bench players get some game experience.
The fact that coaches across the country are in support of the proposal means that it’s likely we will see a version of the rule implemented in time for the 2018 season. For a Syracuse program which has watched seasons falter as injuries take away depth, it would ensure that the coaching staff will not have to put winning games (and keeping jobs) ahead of the health of the players.
Keep an eye on this proposal as it works through the legislative process. Will it remain any four games or will it evolve into something different such as being applicable for only the final four games of the season (including bowls)? If it remains any four games, then coaches could invoke some interesting roster strategies depending on the opponent.