Dan Mullen has an idea.

Instead of Jim Delany’s blanket ineligibility proposal for incoming freshmen student-athletes, the Mississippi State coach offers something more nuanced to help kids adjust:  Any player above the NCAA’s new core grade-point-average requirement should get five years of eligibility instead of the standard four.

As he explains it, here’s what you’d get with that.

“You might take a freshman and they are being punished for having better grades. They might be forced to play even though they needed a redshirt year,” Mullen says. “One of the thoughts I had was there’s a mandatory academic redshirt year for a certain group of people…well, if you are above that new standard you should get five years of eligibility. Why punish someone who might be forced to have to play?

“Instead of punishing guys for doing bad, why not reward guys for doing good?”

Well, that’s nice, but he’s a coach, so you can figure there’s another agenda lurking in the background.  And there is.

His idea is to counteract the NCAA’s requirement, set to go into effect August 2016, which requires prospective student-athletes to have a minimum GPA of 2.3. If the recruits can’t hit that 2.3 GPA figure but are above the old 2.0 scale, they’d be forced to take an academic redshirt year. The NCAA also raised its sliding scale based on GPA and SAT/ACT scores, and now requires recruits to have completed 10 of their 16 core classes before their senior year.

Mullen imagines a hypothetical scenario in which multiple players have to take an academic redshirt year, and how that’d force other guys into playing time before they might be ready. That’s the impetus behind his push to give those players an extra year of eligibility.

If Mullen’s idea were passed, it could dramatically change the way programs recruit. Schools would still recruit talented players with shaky transcripts, but the benefits of signing a stronger student would be big when another year of eligibility is on the table. It would even the scales a bit for programs with tough admissions standards.

So what he’s really after is more signing flexibility.  That, in and of itself, isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  (In fact, if it leads to less pressure on coaches to futz with players’ grades, it’s likely a good thing.)  But the bottom line here is that this is about giving guys like him a lifeline to be able to manage continuing to bring in athletic talent that isn’t so talented in the classroom.  And to the extent that eases the pressure on high schools and high schoolers to bring their academic efforts up to a more serious level, that isn’t such a good thing.

What do y’all think?



Filed under Academics? Academics., The NCAA

10 responses to “Dan Mullen has an idea.

  1. I actually agree with Mullen. If a kid (let’s call him Keith) comes in with a GPA higher than his 40 time and is a full qualifier under the new requirements, reward him with the ability to play 5 years because he took care of business in the classroom in addition to the playing field. What’s not to like in this situation? The coaches get an extra year of production, the academics see improvement in graduation rates, and the player gets the best of both worlds – early playing time and a higher likelihood of leaving with a degree (or two).


  2. South FL Dawg

    Some of these recruits are in over their heads in college and Mullen’s solution doesn’t help them any. Not that I care if recruits get 5 years but if you want to improve things there are other ways.


  3. Since those players who have five yearsctonplay count against the 85 limit we would see a whole lot more medical disqualifications at Alabama. It would be a houndstooth MASH unit.


  4. Sides

    It seems to me like the players that need 5 years are the ones who are behind academically. An average player (2-3 star recruit with no real NFL shot) with a poor academic background does not really have a chance in 4 years to graduate with a meaningful degree. I wouldn’t call requiring a redshirt season punishment as much as just acknowledging the reality that many of these kids can’t graduate in 4 years.

    I don’t have a problem with giving all scholarship kids 5 academic years. It seems like a lot of kids and a lot of programs now take 5 years to graduate. My wife’s brother just finished undergrad at Clemson and it took 5 years after all the industry internships and such.


  5. I like the new academic requirements. I am actually all for equal enrollment standards, meaning that all students, average joe student, band members, football players and baseball players, all have to meet the same standard set forth by the university. Far too many academically underachieving athletes have been granted admission into great universities across this nation for too long. It is time to reward the kids that put forth the effort and work in the classroom as well as on the field. If you fail to meet the requirements, there is a junior college or smaller school waiting on you.


    • JCDAWG83

      I’m with you on this. Making football players actually be real college students , with real admission requirements instead of nothing more than entertainers brought into the college will solve several problems.

      First, it will force the NFL and NBA to start a farm system for the really good players they want to play in a few years. Second, it will help with graduation rates. Finally, it will give high school and younger kids a real reason to study and learn and the country’s high schools won’t be putting out as many unemployable morons who thought they were going to be professional athletes.



    IF it helps the kids get a degree, I am all for it. A very low percentage of them will ever sniff an NFL field.


  7. Mayor

    Bah, humbug. We have too many rules already. BTW, get off my lawn.