Nick Saban has been making good use of an NCAA rule that allows former Crimson Tide players to suit up and practice with the current squad.
He used former first-round pick Trent Richardson to simulate Leonard Fournette, and former Alabama QB John Parker Wilson to play the role of LSU QB Danny Etling. The result was a shutout performance from the Crimson Tide defense.
It was a move that Ohio State coach Urban Meyer had not even heard about until news of Saban’s strategy made its way north last month. And now, it appears as though the former Florida coach is trying it out himself in preparation for the Buckeyes’ College Football Playoff semifinals matchup against Clemson.
Former Ohio State WR Brian Hartline, who played in the NFL from 2009-15 as a member of the Miami Dolphins and Cleveland Browns, appears to be helping out at Ohio State practice.
He received a tweet from Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins following Monday’s workout:
Hartline replied with a Tweet that has since been deleted (captured by College Football Talk), which indicated that not only had Hartline been at the practice on Monday but was also planning to participate in Tuesday’s practice:
While seemingly harmless on surface, as it has been proven many times over that this practice is allowed, there was one issue with his tweet.
According to NCAA bylaw 188.8.131.52, which Saban used to bring his former players back to practice, “a former student at the certifying institution (e.g., former student-athlete) may participate in an organized practice session on an occasional basis, provided the institution does not publicize the participation of the former student at any time before the practice session.”
Hartline’s tweet could certainly be construed as publicizing his participation in the Ohio State practice, and that is likely the reason he chose to remove the tweet. Though it is worth noting that Ohio State itself did not do the promoting. It’s likely another grey area in the NCAA rules, but one that could be a potential violation and may be brought to the attention of college football’s governing body.
After all, it is bizarre that it’s fine for Ohio State to reveal that Hartline practiced with the team on Monday, but it’s taboo for him to mention that he’ll return for a second workout the next day.