The NCAA announced a change in their rules governing redshirts in football. Starting in 2018, players can now appear in up to four games without using up a season of eligibility.
This is quite a change. The long-standing redshirt rule held that any game appearance at any point in the season counted against the player’s four years of eligibility. Players will still have five years in which to play their four seasons of football under the new rule.
However, this rule is fresh with the new season of football in the fall; it will not be applied retroactively and any player who has already made a game appearance will be governed by the old redshirt rules.
There are several benefits to the new rule moving forward.
Primarily, young players will have more of a chance to see the field in meaningless games or in blowouts. Instead of having to preserve a redshirt, coaches will have the option to sub in new talent and get those players some game experience without hurting their overall eligibility.
Second, early season injuries will have less of an impact. If a starter goes down in the first three or four games, they would be able to use an automatic redshirt, assuming they haven’t already used a redshirt year. This allows players to preserve eligibility without having to apply for a medical hardship waiver.
Finally, coaches will be able to work with added depth in the postseason. With more and more high profile players choosing to sit out their bowl games so as to not risk injury before starting their NFL career, coaches were facing some tough decisions about burning redshirts or fielding a thinner team.
Under the new rules, coaches will be able to play younger players without using a redshirt. Those same players will reap the benefits of not just practicing for the bowl game but being able to play in them as well.