Remember the great satellite camp debate of 2016? You know the one where some schools and coaches were upset with other coaches and teams holding camps off campus and around the country. After much fan fair, the NCAA decided it was not cool with satellite camps, then after even more uproar decided it was, in fact, okay after all for coaches to hold camps away from campus.
Well, it seems the next great controversy regarding coaches finding obscure rules in the NCAA manual and putting them to use is upon us.
Throughout the course of the season, some college coaches have brought back former student-athletes back to campus and had them participate on the scout team. Marshawn Lynch participated in practice prior to Cal’s season opener and Nick Saban has seen former stars such as Trent Richardson and Blake Sims take reps.
NCAA rule 188.8.131.52, which falls under the NCAA’s requirements for practice, allows former students to practice on an occasional basis as long as the school does not publicize the participation prior to the practice session.
The rule which was adopted in March of 2011, has become a become a hot topic, with coaches such as Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly calling the rule ludicrous.
Brian Kelly on teams bringing former players for scout team: "I think it's absolutely ludicrous..doesn’t sound like college football to me."
— Laken Litman (@LakenLitman) November 10, 2016
Is he right? Or just upset that Saban and several other are using the rule?
The rule was adopted with the purpose of allowing former student-athletes who are in need of place to train and practice while trying to make a professional roster. That holds true for Richardson but not Lynch. But the timing of Richardson’s return to Tuscaloosa to practice with the Tide seems more than coincidental.
He was used to simulate LSU running back Leonard Fournette, plain and simple. We will never know how much Richardson’s time on the Alabama scout team really helped the Crimson Tide prepare for Fournette, but the rule allowed Alabama coaches to give the defense the best look possible.
And there lies the issue.
The NCAA is often criticized for being overbearing but this is a perfect example of good intentions being taken advantage of. College coaches have taken a rule meant to help former student-athletes and found a way to create a competitive advantage. As the practice of bringing back former star athletes to run the scout team for a week becomes more popular, the NCAA will be forced to take another look at this rule and tweak it or outlaw it.
Cody Junot joined College AD in November, 2014 as a contributing writer and was shortly promoted to Associate Editor in July, 2015. Cody graduated from UL Lafayette in 2011 with a degree in Sports Management.