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The NCAA's new redshirt rule should benefit Iowa and other schools with added depth late in the season or during bowl games.

Why college football coaches should love new redshirt rule

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ANSWER: The new NCAA legislation that allows players to compete in up to four games before classifying as a redshirt is terrific news for programs such as Iowa. There are so many situations in which this rule could have helped Iowa in the past that it would require a countdown.

Last December, starting left tackle Alaric Jackson was suspended for the Pinstripe Bowl. With original starting tackles Boone Myers and Ike Boettger already out with season-ending injuries, Iowa was sparse at the position. Freshman Mark Kallenberger, who was redshirting, took pregame reps with the second team. Had he stepped in, even for a play in an emergency situation, he would have lost a year of eligibility.

Quarterback Nate Stanley did not redshirt as a freshman backup quarterback in 2016. He played in seven games. Perhaps that experience might have been trimmed by a few games to preserve an extra year of eligibility.

Injuries strip depth for all teams, and that’s especially true late in the season. If a team can slide a few first-year players on to the kickoff unit, that could help them gain game experience and eliminate potential injuries for starters. Perhaps multiple players could rotate games on special teams to preserve their redshirt status but allow them to gain experience.

As for a bowl situation, it’s probably more of a realistic situation than even late in the season. When players are redshirting, they usually work on the scout team and not on the team’s usual plays and alignments. During bowl prep, those players return to the team concept. There’s more of a chance for advancement. Perhaps a receiver has made significant strides from August or a linebacker’s reaction speed quickens.

Currently, there’s often so much disengagement for younger players who are redshirting that the potential to compete in a bowl game could serve as a reward. 

I also think back to situations involving defensive end Drew Ott and tight end Allen Reisner. In 2012, Iowa was so depleted at defensive end it pulled Ott’s redshirt. He competed as a rotational player in the final five games. Spinning it forward, Ott suffered a grotesque elbow dislocation in 2015, tried to play through it and then tore his ACL in the sixth game. Iowa appealed for a medical redshirt, which the NCAA denied. Ott still was recovering so he wasn’t drafted by an NFL club in 2016. With this new legislation, perhaps Iowa would have held out Ott for one game in 2012 to preserve his redshirt.

Reisner originally was slated to redshirt in 2007 and didn’t play in Iowa’s first four games. When starter Tony Moeaki was injured in the fourth game, Iowa pulled Reisner’s redshirt and he wasn’t quite prepared physically for Big Ten action. Perhaps if Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz had more flexibility, he would have kept Reisner’s redshirt intact. Reisner developed into a solid player by his final season, but if he had the 2011 season, too, he might have gotten drafted in 2012. Instead, he was undrafted in 2011 and the NFL lockout limited his pro opportunities.

The possibilities are endless. Allowing redshirting athletes to compete in a few games gives both coaches and players more options, which is healthy for the sport.

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