LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky coach Mark Stoops fielded questions for about seven minutes on an SEC conference call Monday afternoon, and rule changes were the prominent topic.
One change is already official. College prospects will have a 72-hour early signing period from Dec. 20-22. It will give schools and recruits a chance to finalize things before the annual National Signing Day in early February. This will be the first year for the change, but in addition to the early signing period, the calendar will change in regard to visits.
Rather than waiting until the fall of their senior year for official visits, beginning in 2018, prospects can make official visits starting April 1 of their junior season. While Stoops likes the early signing period idea, he’s concerned with the calendar change.
“There’s good and bad,” Stoops said Monday. “If you look through the years, it certainly could’ve benefitted us in certain ways. I think it’s good as far as the early signing period having that ability. As far as changing the calendar and doing all those things, and then you package it together, I don’t think I was totally in favor of that.”
Stoops said that it will “take some thoughts” as coaches work their way through hosting early official visits.
“Anything new will take some time to make an educated decision on that,” Stoops said. “Right now we’ll play with the cards that are dealt.”
But Stoops is fully in favor of another rule change — one still in the proposal process.
The American Football Coaches Association is sending a rule to the NCAA that would allow players to participate in up to four games during their redshirt season without burning their redshirt and losing a whole season of eligibility.
Stoops and his staff likely would’ve altered course if the proposed rule existed last season. Kentucky starting QB Stephen Johnson didn’t start the second to last game of the regular season against Austin Peay because of an injury to his left knee. But rather than burning backup QB Gunnar Hoak’s redshirt, Stoops and company opted for third-team quarterback Luke Wright.
“We played most of the year with our backup quarterback being a redshirt guy,” Stoops said. “We decided to keep that redshirt on Gunnar Hoak in Game 11 and played our third-team quarterback. It was a situation that could’ve benefitted us a year ago. I think it makes a lot of sense.”
The Division I Football Competition Committee will discuss the proposal on Tuesday, according to Fox Sports. That committee then could sponsor it for consideration at the NCAA Convention in January.
“It could protect the player in their redshirt year,” Stoops said. “It could help gain a little experience for the following year. Overall I think it’s a very good rule.”