Alabama Football: Good and Bad – new NCAA transfer and redshirt rules

The NCAA made changes to transfer and redshirt rules. Many coaches agree with Alabama football coach, Nick Saban that the new rules are good and bad.

Alabama football will benefit more than suffer from the new NCAA rules on transfers and redshirts. The amended redshirt rule benefits players and teams and almost all coaches had lobbied for it. The new ‘notification’ transfer rule does not have unanimous support.

College football players have five years in which to play four seasons of football. The new redshirt rule allows a player to compete in up to four games in a season and still retain four more seasons of eligibility. It is a win for everybody.

New undergraduate transfer rule

The new transfer rule takes away permission being granted by a school before a player can transfer. Under the new system, passed with an October 15th effective date, a player gives his school notice of his plan to transfer. The school then has 48 hours to submit the player’s name to the NCAA for inclusion in a national transfer database. In conjunction with the change, tampering with another school’s players will carry a stiffer, level 2, NCAA penalty.

Unlike the current rule for graduate transfers, an undergraduate must still sit out a full season after transferring. There was discussion a defined level of strong academic performance should qualify undergraduates to transfer without sitting out a season. That suggestion was rejected, largely on the basis of an argument it could be successfully challenged in court.

Many coaches do not like the change

Many coaches, including Alabama football coach, Nick Saban see the new transfer rule as detrimental to the game. The opposite argument is players should be entitled to free agency for their services.

The NCAA left the issue open for individual conferences to pass more restrictive undergraduate rules. The new NCAA rule will allow for an undergraduate to transfer, and not sit out, if leaving a bowl-banned program. In anticipation of the NCAA action, the SEC recently approved the same undergraduate transfer exemption.

West Virginia head coach, Dana Holgorsen called the new rule “horrible” and further elaborated,

I think this thing’s going to be the wild, wild west and kids are going to transfer the first time they get upset. And that happens quite often.

Texas A&M head coach, Jimbo Fisher, said almost the same thing several days ago. Many more Power Five coaches opposed the proposed changes. At first thought, the new rule should benefit less competitive Power Five teams and all the Group of Five teams.

Alabama football may see more frequent exits of players but the transfer door opens both ways. The Crimson Tide could easily gain from less restricted access to players from other schools. Any fan thinking more open transfer rules will cause Nick Saban to coddle players is mistaken.

Much of the argument favoring less restrictive transfer rules paints coaches as the bad guys – Nick Saban, Bill Snyder and others. A counter thought is coaches seeking to raid rosters of opponents is at least as harmful to the game. In general, giving players more freedom is perhaps more fair. Practically, having malcontents hanging around is not good for a program.


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