LINCOLN — Nebraska football coach Scott Frost hasn’t been shy about playing true freshmen.
He may be able to play every one of them — in one way or another — thanks to a massive change dropped Wednesday by the NCAA Division I Council, which voted that football players can preserve their redshirt while playing in up to four games. Such a rule not only benefits freshmen, but any player on a given roster.
A running back who is injured for much of the season but healthy for the bowl game? He gets to keep his redshirt. A true freshman who gets playing time in three blowouts? He gets to keep his redshirt. A skill player who becomes a trick-play weapon in a key game? He gets to keep his redshirt. A guy pressed into action when injuries unfold in front of him? He gets to keep his redshirt.
Frost is a fan of the change.
“I think it will help with the development of young players and their transition to the college game,” Frost said Wednesday. “They can get an opportunity to see what the competition level will be, stay more engaged and feel like they have an opportunity to impact the team. It also helps in the case of injuries at a position late in the season, and not having to make a difficult decision on whether or not to take a redshirt off a player.”
Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos likes the alteration, too.
“The redshirt piece has a lot of merit,” Moos said. “If you think a player is ready and you put him out there in the season and find the competition and maybe there’s a physical need to be in the weight room, you haven’t lost that year.”
Moos, a former college football player at Washington State, said some young players get better as a season wears on because they spend more time in the weight room and build confidence in practice.
“That one we studied real hard,” Moos said.
Moos said the same is true of the NCAA studying the ongoing issue of student-athlete transfers — most prominent in basketball, football and volleyball.
The NCAA Division I Council also announced Wednesday that student-athletes can transfer to another school without seeking permission to do so from their current school. Starting Oct. 15, the NCAA will create a database that lists all transfers — and schools, once they learn of a student-athlete’s desire to transfer, must enter the name in the database within two days.
The NCAA’s change was the first step of many to be made on the transfer issue, Moos said.
“I know we’ve scoured through it in the Big Ten and gotten a lot of input from coaches and such,” Moos said. “This is probably not the last we’ll hear about the transfer rules.”
Next week, the NCAA said in its press release, Power Five conferences will decide whether a student-athlete’s desire to transfer is a reason schools can cancel financial aid. Currently, it isn’t.