This Andy Staples piece on the new four-game redshirt rule triggered a couple of thoughts in response.
First, he writes about the potential postseason impact:
Also, teams that reach non-Playoff and non-New Year’s Six bowls could play all of their freshmen in the bowl games. This carrot might keep a redshirting player more engaged during the season. It also could blunt the negative impact of veteran players deciding to sit out bowl games by giving fans their first look at highly touted recruits whose only action has come at practice all season. It essentially would turn bowl practices into another spring practice—except with a game against another team at the end.
So I’m curious — those of you who don’t think letting two schools scrimmage in a spring game is such a good idea because of the injury risk, how is this any different?
Second, the bulk of his article runs through the prism of Alabama’s quarterback situation, which — surprise! — isn’t exactly like Georgia’s, in that Hurts is on track to graduate this December, but it still got me to thinking about Smart, who has fretted on the record about the problems of consistently maintaining quarterback depth in an age of star accumulation and transfers.
Quite simply, doesn’t the new redshirt rule make Kirby’s life easier? Let’s say for the sake of argument [ed. note: emphasis added for the sake of… well, you know why.] that Fromm holds off Fields this season. With the new rule, Georgia’s staff no longer has to bury Fields on the sideline to create class separation while hoping like hell nothing happens to Fromm’s health. Instead, Fields can develop while serving as a backup in case of injury, play in several games to get acclimated to college ball and the program still gets the class separation between the two it desires.
Sure, having a competent third-stringer under that scenario will always be prudent, but it’s probably not as urgent a thing as it would have been a year ago. Not to mention that the same thing goes for Jimmie Third String as it does for Fields.
In other words, it’s a good thing for both the coaches and the kids. Which is why I share Staples’ mock surprise over the NCAA not screwing up the new rule. Yay for everyone!