On Wednesday the NCAA announced two rules changes that will take effect in the next few months that will make a major change to the way that the transfer process and redshirt process in Division I football takes place. Both of these rules changes are very positive developments, and will create some major differences in the administrative process of being a student-athlete.
First, the NCAA announced that beginning in October, all Division I athletes will have the ability to transfer to any other school without any restrictions being put upon them by their former schools. Prospective schools will not need to ask permission to the athlete’s former school to talk to them. When an athlete declares he or she intents to transfer, there name is placed in a nationwide database, and then any school can contact them about the potenial of them attending their institution.
This change was made after several high profile instances of coaches not allowing athletes the ability to transfer, or severely limiting the potential destinations athletes would be allowed to transfer to. Now the NCAA will not allow for any school to set restrictions on an athlete.
However, conferences are still allowed to set stricter rules on transfers than the national rule. Though, with the new change its not expected many of these potential rules will be very strict.
The second rule change that occurred will have much greater implications on the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the short term. The NCAA announced Wednesday that for Division I football, all players are allowed to participate in up to four games and still be able to redshirt during the season and keep a year of eligibility. This effectively does away with the injury hardship redshirt and sets a strict limit of four games per season.
The benefit that this will have on the Gopher program will most likely be seen immediately in the 2018 season. The Gophers will enter the season with a true freshman backup quarterback in Zack Annexstad. He now is allowed to play in up to four games next fall,whether it be needed as an injury replacement, or just to get him some actual game action. He can do all this and still retain his year of eligibility and be a redshirt freshman in the fall of 2019.
A huge way this will benefit programs is by allowing some true freshmen who are really improving rapidly a chance to make an impact later in the season and in bowl games. Any one who followed the Gophers a year ago knew that PJ Fleck was flirting with lifting offensive lineman Blaise Andres’s redshirt due to injuries and other performance issues along the Gophers offensive line. Additionally, the reports were that freshman Esezi Otomewo was one of the best defensive ends the Gophers had in practice, but because he was redshirting he would not see the field in games. Now, both players would get the opportunity to play in the last four games of the Gophers season and really show how they could do against opponents.
So who may the Gophers try and do this with this season? Oh maybe just two big guys on the offensive line in Curtis Dunlap and Daniel Faaele. Or Annexstad as discussed before. There are several other potential candidates on the defensive side of the ball, but many may be playing all season long as true freshmen.
This rule change will have major benefits for most programs, not only the Gophers. It will make the end of the season and bowl season that much more interesting to see what impact these true freshmen can have in limited action. Hopefully the Gophers can put it to good use this fall.