Saban defends Tide's medical redshirting in wake of critical report


With the practice of medical redshirting seemingly on the rise — or, at least, the subject of more reports than it’s been in the past — the Wall Street Journal aimed a critical spotlight last week on what some consider a nefarious form of roster manipulation, with most of the harsh light placed squarely on the Alabama football program under Nick Saban.

The piece quoted three former Tide players — one who describes himself as “still kind of bitter” — who were among the 12 medical redshirts given out by the Saban-led program since 2007.  That number is nearly half of the estimated 25 medical redshirts handed out by SEC schools the past three years.

Medical redshirts are designed for players who are no longer able to play football due to injury, but still allows them to receive the financial aid that permits them to continue their schooling as if they were on scholarship.  At least one of the former Tide players interviewed for the piece claims he was still medically able to play, but was urged — or pressured — by the school to take the medical waiver in order to clear a roster spot for better players.  With scholarship limits set at 85, and the pressure to build and sustain a successful football program higher than it’s ever been, roster spots are at a premium, and there’s likely no program in the nation that doesn’t look to “massage” the outer edges of NCAA rules as it pertains to how a roster can be constructed.

When it comes to medical redshirts, however, Alabama’s head coach says that’s out of his hands.

“I didn’t really read the article. I didn’t see the article,” Nick Saban said when asked about the Wall Street Journal article Wednesday. “But we don’t make the decision about medicals. I have nothing to do with that. Those are medical decision made by our medical staff. I think we have one of the finest medical staffs in the country.”

Saban dismissed claims by his former players that the medical redshirts were given to clear roster spots for better players, claiming that there were legitimate medical reasons for what’s occurred.

“I don’t have any question about the fact every player we have given a medical to, it’s been because of the medical opinion of the medical staff,” Saban said. “Those guys should not continue to play football because it would put their future in tremendous risk.

“Those decisions are always made in the best interest of the player. Whether the player agrees with that or not, I can’t control. I don’t make the decision. They don’t make the decision as players. That’s why we have a medical staff.”

Do schools such as Alabama err so close to the side of medical caution that the medical redshirt practice takes on a “shady” hue?  Perhaps, but there’s a pretty damn positive side for any players who may feel jilted because they were “subjected” to such “indignity”: even as they will not be allowed to remain a member of the football program, they will still get a free education.

Or, if they truly feel that they are medically able, they can transfer to another school to continue their football career.

Either way, they still get a free education.

With all of this medical redshirt talk and the sudden surge in wailing and gnashing of teeth when it comes to paying college football players, that’s something that unfortunately seems to get lost in all of the bluster.

Rutgers WR Carroo expected to have assault charges dropped

Leonte Carroo
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Rutgers wide receiver Leonte Carroo could have a charge of simple assault dropped by a New Jersey court today. The woman he is accused of slamming to the concrete has agreed to drop the restraining order request and has asked the assault charge against the Rutgers receiver be dropped as well. reports today the woman and Carroo each appeared in a family court on Tuesday, and the woman told the judge she is not scared of Carroo.

So, what does this mean for football? Simply put, it means Carroo may be eligible to play again as soon as this weekend. That would be good timing, as Rutgers is set to host Michigan State this Saturday night.

Carroo has been sitting out while serving an indefinite suspension while this legal process plays out. Carroo has missed each of the last two games for Rutgers, against Penn State and Kansas. Rutgers was off this past weekend. If this legal process does play out as it is expected at this point, Carroo could be reinstated quickly and promptly, making him eligible to return right away. Carroo is one fo the best players on the roster, so having him back and eligible to play is very good news for the Scarlet Knights offense.

Gamecocks still hope to host LSU Sat., but alternatives being evaluated

David Williams, Tony Guerad

The recent flooding in the state of South Carolina has brought many dangers and concerns much more important than football with it, but this being a college football-focused website we must dive into the connection real life issues have with the sport from time to time. South Carolina is scheduled to host LSU in Columbia this Saturday, and that still appears to be the plan. Alternate plans have been discussed though, just in case they will be needed as the week unfolds.

The very concept of moving a college football game to another stadium is indeed a rare situation. It is not, however, completely without precedent. The 1942 Rose Bowl between Duke and Oregon State (my how the times have changed) was moved from Pasadena, California across the country to be played in Durham, North Carolina. This was out of fear of the west coast being attacked during World War II though. LSU’s Tiger Stadium has served as a home football stadium for a weather-related event in the past as well. The New Orleans Saints played four games in Baton Rouge after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and forced the Saints to play the entire 2005 season on the road.

Today is only Tuesday, so there is still some time to make sure Williams-Brice Stadium and the surrounding area is suitable for hosting the SEC contest this weekend. Odds are the game will be able to be played as scheduled, but safety for fans and teams involved is always the priority.