I’ve mentioned this before, but change is coming to fall camp.
In the last five years alone, college sports has stripped the teeth from fall camp in the name of safety, softening one of the more grueling, traditional rights of passage for NCAA football players. Officials have eliminated two-a-days, slashed practice days, added mandatory off days and reduced camp rosters.
The fifth change to fall camp in six years is expected to happen this month, as Sports Illustrated reported two weeks ago. Officials are poised to abolish long-standing collision drills, such as the Oklahoma Drill, and reduce the number of full-padded, contact practices and scrimmages that coaches can conduct in camp.
On Thursday, a subgroup of the NCAA Division I Football Oversight Committee is expected to recommend the changes to the Division I Council, which must okay the new rules at its May 19 meeting. Over the last two weeks, committee members have socialized the camp modifications across FBS and FCS conferences for feedback from hundreds of coaches.
As you can probably guess, coaches aren’t particularly thrilled by this. (Then again, they’re not the ones hiring the lawyers to defend the suits arising out of head injuries. But, I digress.)
Even former coaches aren’t particularly thrilled by this. Welcome back a familiar, warm and cuddly face to the blog.
Enforcing these new rules could be a difficult endeavor, says Paul Johnson, the former Georgia Tech coach whose teams excelled at the triple option for decades. He calls the new rules “ridiculous” and believes that diminishing full-padded practices will not reduce contact as much as officials hope.
“If you ever go to practice, they scrimmage in shells and they play full speed in shells,” he says. “Some people are going to go by the rules and some won’t. Who’s going to stand out there and tell Nick Saban you’re over the time limit? The Alabama compliance person? They wouldn’t be there long.”
Grumble, grumble, cut blocking… something, something. Wait, did the genius just call Nick Saban a cheater? I’m sure Nick’s gonna lose a lot of sleep over that.