GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A number of coaches were asked Monday during the SEC spring teleconference about a proposal by the American Football Coaches Association to allow players to maintain their redshirt year while also playing in up to 4 games.
Florida coach Jim McElwain took it even further in his response.
“I think why not just let them play? Give them the 5 years of eligibility and call it the way it is,” he said.
The AFCA has reportedly forwarded the proposal to amend the redshirt rules on to the NCAA.
As it presently stands, players have 5 years in which to complete their 4 seasons of eligibility. Once they play in any game, the opportunity to take a redshirt year is lost, though in the case of injury players may petition the NCAA for a medical redshirt if they played in only a certain percentage of the season.
As evidenced by the support voiced from SEC coaches on the teleconference Monday, there is strong support to change that rule, simplify the whole process and let true freshmen get some experience without losing a season of eligibility.
“As you get later in the season, now you’ve got those guys you’d like to get in there that played in whatever, 20 percent of the first — I’m not real good at math anyway, so trying to figure out when to use them and not to use them. But I do think that’s a good rule,” McElwain said.
McElwain faced questions late last season as to whether he would consider pulling freshman quarterback Feleipe Franks’ redshirt to get an early look at what the Gators may have at that position in 2017.
Ultimately, the coaches chose to stick with fifth-year senior Austin Appleby through the Outback Bowl.
“We went far enough down the road and obviously Austin Appleby was here and had done a good job. In fact, he’s in camp with the Cowboys now. You know what, we were able to kind of survive it more than anything and give (Franks) that full year as it was,” McElwain said. “I think based on what we saw in spring, it was a really good decision. I was excited about what he was able to do all the way through Swamp Life (offseason training) through spring practice. He’s done a really good job so far in what we’re doing in this phase.”
With rule changes dominating the discussion, McElwain was also asked yet again for his thoughts on the SEC potentially amending its graduate transfer rule.
That is expected to be discussed later this month at the SEC spring meetings in Destin, Fla., with the Gators prominently in the crosshairs of the matter. They have been linked to former Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire as he looks to choose a new school for his final season, but due to two prior grad transfers not meeting specified academic requirements, the Gators are presently prohibited from adding a grad transfer under the SEC’s rules.
“You know, the way I kind of look at any of those rules is just all the conferences playing on the same page I think makes sense,” McElwain said Monday on the matter. “And yet, you know what, if it changes, it changes. If it doesn’t, you just keep moving on. Now that’s something we’ll find out I guess here in Destin, and yet it’s whatever it is.”