If you can’t beat them, join them.
Alabama coach Nick Saban began the trend of using former players on the Crimson Tide’s scout team to help with weekly preparations, and Clemson is utilizing it as it prepares for Ohio State in the College Football Playoff.
According to the Charleston Post and Courier’s Gene Sapakoff, the Tigers are using former quarterback Tajh Boyd to play the role of Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett ahead of the Fiesta Bowl.
Clemson had @TajhB10 practicing at scout team QB today, playing the role of Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett
— Gene Sapakoff (@Sapakoff) December 16, 2016
Saban utilized former Crimson Tide quarterback Blake Sims this season to simulate quarterback Trevor Knight ahead of the Oct. 22 matchup against Texas A&M.
The Tide head coach also brought back former running back Trent Richardson to mimic Leonard Fournette, and ex-Tide quarterback John Parker Wilson to play the role of Danny Etling before November’s LSU contest.
All of these moves are within NCAA rules, according to NCAA bylaw 18.104.22.168, titled “Exception — Former Student Participating in Practice on an Occasional Basis”. The rule was adopted in March 2011.
Despite it falling within NCAA jurisdiction, Alabama’s usage of former players was ill-received by Kelly, who called it “ludicrous” and said it “doesn’t sound like college football to me.”
Saban subtly responded to critics during a November radio show.
“Now everybody’s complaining that we did it, and they want to change the rule. Well, we didn’t break any rules,” Saban said. “We did what you’re allowed to do. If they want to change the rule, they can change the rule.
“I don’t care what rules they change, they’re the same for everybody. I just wish that people would quit complaining about what we do, that’s allowed by the rules, and why don’t they just do it?”
During his time at Clemson, Boyd passed for 11,904 yards and 107 touchdowns, while also adding 1,165 rushing yards and 26 scores on the ground. Should the Tigers get past Ohio State, and Alabama beats Washington, the two teams would face off for a rematch of last year’s national title game.
Who would Clemson use to adequately simulate Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts?
Maybe the better question: Is there anyone who can?