Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher offered up a new take on how to reduce injuries at the college level: By offering players five years of eligibility, instead of giving them five years to complete four years of eligibility.
Via USA Today’s Dan Wolken:
Fisher thinks if players were given five seasons of eligibility, it would serve two purposes: Help younger players develop and reduce the pounding veteran players take, particularly with a season that has increased to 12 regular season games and a College Football Playoff that will require a national champion to play two physically demanding games in a two-week span.
“(A freshman) isn’t ready at the beginning of the year, but you have to make that decision (to redshirt) by Game 5 or 6,” Fisher said. “Maybe by games by eight, nine or 10 he’s developed himself to go in there and give you 10, 12, 14 plays a game.
“At the end of that season when those freshmen are ready to play and can help you on special teams or get 10 reps a game, it takes the pressure off a guy who’s banged up and bruised up. The longer you go in these seasons, the more you have to look at those things as a health issue.”
There’s more to Fisher’s argument in Wolken’s story, so give it a read. But perhaps it does stand to reason that if coaches weren’t worried about burning a player’s redshirt, they could play a freshman when he’s ready, not when it makes sense.
Of course, this is easy for Fisher to say — the FSU coach routinely brings in top-ranked recruiting classes and has plenty of talented freshmen at his disposal. It’s gotta be a lot easier to get an athletically and physically-gifted five-star freshman ready to play than a lot of the two-star types that go to mid and lower-tier schools, even in power conferences.