Mixing it up at scrimmage time

I’ve long thought this would be a cool thing to do.

Kirby Smart appears open to the idea of holding an offseason or preseason scrimmage with another college football program.

Appearing on 680 The Fan’s The Front Row Wednesday, Smart was asked about this concept, which came a day after Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said he would love for something like this to come into fruition.

“We did that in the NFL when I played and coach, and it was great,” Smart said. “Now, every now and then it gets a little heated with some scuffles. It’s much more enjoyable for the players than the same monotonous thing. They get to each other, they get to scrimmage, play somebody else.”

…  NFL teams have practiced with one another during the preseason for quite awhile.

And as Smart noted, high school programs are practicing and scrimmaging with one another too.

“They do it all over the state of Georgia,” Smart said. “They have a day where they come in with two or three teams, and they share. If you do it the right way and the coaches understand it’s really not about who wins the drill, it’s about getting better, then it’s very productive.”

High schools do it.  The NFL does it.  But not the colleges.  Why?  Well…

The NCAA does not technically prohibit this sort of thing from happening. But if two teams did agree to a scrimmage, they would each lose a regular-season game.

NCAA bylaw states that a member institution “shall limit its total regular-season playing schedule with outside competition during the permissible football playing season in any one year to 12 contests (games or scrimmages).”

Given the numerous factors at play in a 12-game season, this all but shuts down the opportunity for teams to scrimmage each other before a new season begins.

I’m not sure about that whole numerous factors thing — no school wants to blow the revenue it receives from a regular season game and that would seem to be enough of a factor in itself — but it’s hard to see a downside to such a scrimmage, especially if they opened it up to public viewing.

In any event, you wonder if you’ll see more coaches join in and maybe push the NCAA to update the rule to allow it.


Filed under The NCAA

24 responses to “Mixing it up at scrimmage time

  1. heyberto

    Downside? I can see some ‘potential’ for a downside… namely injuries.. would it diminish the regular season… and those are honest questions, so before you @ me, I’m not saying I’m sold that these are reasons not to do it.. I’d just like to hear everyone’s thoughts on it. When I think of something like UGA vs. Clemson as a preseason opportunity, I think of how the college game is different than the NFL. It’s a lot more about bragging rights and what it means to beat a power 5 time, and can you switch off the mindset of college kids to be wired for safety in a game that doesn’t affect the regular season, of do these guys go out and give it all they’ve got to the point that they’re playing to win. Emotion is a much bigger factor in the college game and I’m genuinely curious how to manage that amongst the players

    Now.. if you want to make a case for playing a cupcake in the preseason and saving the big teams for the regular season.. well… I could get on board with that.


    • Parrish is out with a broken foot until likely the Mississippi State game.

      Injuries happen, whether you scrimmage against yourself or someone else.


      • heyberto

        I’m not saying risk doesn’t exist in camp scrimmages… just wondering if this increases the risk? I think it could, particuarly if these kids feel the need to play a little harder because… it just means more to say you beat another power 5 team even if it is a ‘meaningless’ game. This isn’t the ‘it’s just business’ mindset of the NFL.


    • Cory

      “Now.. if you want to make a case for playing a cupcake in the preseason and saving the big teams for the regular season.. well… I could get on board with that.”

      This. Pay the cupcakes a reduced rate but not the fortune the big boys pay now OR play it at their place, that would benefit the smaller school, eliminate the need for traffic and security in Athens, plus it would simulate an away game before the season.

      An regarding the NCAA bylaw, change it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. 81Dog

    Kirby seems to be overstating his resume a bit with “when I played in the NFL”, doesn’t he? I guess getting invited to training camp is an accomplishment in itself, but was he on a roster for a single regular season game? People with confidence in their own abilities don’t need to BS people about their resume, do they?


    • Cory

      I thought they played the scrimmages during training camp, when Kirby was there. People with confidence don’t feel the need to scrutinize others’ innocuous and accurate statements to find a way to tear it down, do they?


    • Hillbilly Dawg

      But, he did “play” in the NFL. Those darned minor details.


      • Normaltown Mike

        I doubt anyone that played on Sundays in the NFL would consider a training camp tackling dummy as an NFL player. But reasonable minds can differ.


  3. HVL Dawg

    Count on this: ESPN would ruin it.


    • Normaltown Mike

      what? You would have Lee Corso putting on the practice jersey of the team he was picking to win the practice. Desmond Howard giving amazing insights on the upcoming practice, with a mouth full of marbles. A sideline reporterette grabbing the coach for a 15 second interview as the teams took a 15 minute water break after a bull in the ring drill.


  4. Macallanlover

    The only reason people fear injuries in these match ups are they see them on TV, those in a closed scrimmage or just regular practice, happen every day but you have to dig for that information on the internet.

    I understand the need for a pre-season scrimmage to get ready for the opening game (s) but this would only work with schools very close to one another, and perhaps not open to the public at all. Now the Spring game could be a major event with proceeds going to a worthy cause, this should definitely happen. And the NCAA should be told to step down on these football restrictions and foot dragging on investigations; basketball may need them but football can figure it out on their own. It would be hard for CFB to do worse if they named a Commish and a supporting cast to oversee the game.


  5. Hillbilly Dawg



  6. junkyardawg41

    I think scrimmages/glorified practice with another team would be a great idea. I don’t think you monetize it — or if you do, it would be to basically cover the costs associated with the travel of other teams. $10 a ticket type thing. You do scrimmages/glorified practices to build your brand so you can continue to encourage new fans to fork out the bigger dollars. It’s just a thought.


    • Russ

      “…don’t monetize it” How cute.

      😉 Just yanking your chain. You’re correct, of course, except that there is zero chance that they won’t monetize it. And that’s where it all goes wrong.


  7. watcher16

    I still don’t see the problem: Why would a “pre-season” scrimmage count against the 12 “regular season” competitions? Doesn’t seem to me that it is a part of the regular season schedule, unless there is some article/bylaw that explicitly defines those as being part of the regular season.


  8. Russ

    Senator, I was right there with you until you started the crazy talk about opening it up to the public. It’s practice! Kirby can’t have practice open to the public. Somebody might figure out Mecole is lining up in the Wilddog or something equally critical.


    • Cpark58

      Is it really that unreasonable to close practices? I understand the 24 hour news cycle is a bitch for the journalists and has conditioned us all to crave constant information but does any of it really matter outside game days? It’s not like anyone is ever going to say, “Damn, that Kirby Smart sure is a great coach. Sure we lost to Vandy and Tech but they practiced great.”

      I don’t blame Kirby or any other coach to want to limit the scrutiny put on his program to the product on the field. Anything else can only hurt.


      • ApalachDawg

        Couldn’t you just call it a practice? Practice situations instead a full blown game/scrimmage – like run two minute drill from the 50, goal line D, etc?
        Definitely practice against the smaller schools.


  9. Normaltown Mike

    Senator, I think you should’ve titled tihs post:

    We talkin’ bout practice


  10. 69Dawg

    It has always been puzzling that the NFL holds practices that are totally open to the public. Heck the Bucs have covered stands for the fans so they don’t get heat stroke. College football would have you think they are the Manhattan Project. It would doom the whole season if the practices were public. It’s total BS, college football has been played for well over 100 years and there is very little new. I find it weird that any team would have had to scout UGA for the last 15 years. We run what we run and everybody knows what we run, it boils down to whether we can run it better than the other team and that is all that matters.