The Washington Times - October 30, 2008, 01:20PM

This entry is inspired by about three different things.

There was the story about a month ago that N.C. State had 44 available scholarship players one week, taking out redshirts and injuries.

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There was a post yesterday where I mentioned scholarship reductions (and the inability to stash away a ton of quarterbacks) as one of the reasons why the option is not nearly as popular a scheme as it once was.

And there is Ralph Friedgen’s regular pleas for five years of eligibility for football players.

It’s an interesting topic, and I wonder if coaches would have more success arguing their point with the NCAA if they just said it will help them do a better job of graduating their more marginal athletic talents. Intuitively, that would make sense, but heavens knows I don’t have the time to do a full-scale study on the subject.

Either way, those three things got me thinking about Maryland’s 85 scholarship players, and realistically how many of them the Terps have available to them heading into next week’s game at Virginia Tech. So let’s exclude guys from three categories – likely redshirts, academic ineligibles and injured players done for the year:

* Redshirts (12): Boykins, D. Campbell, Dill, Dorsey, Douglas, Francis, Gilbert, Hartsfield, Kabongo, Lewis, Russell, Vellano

* Ineligible (1): Gloster

* Injured (5): Barnes, Bowen, Herald, Pooler, Taylor

That puts the Terps down to 67, which is obviously much better shape than N.C. State was in (and effectively remains in now).

Now, that 67 is highly variable. There’s no shortage of injuries that could keep guys out at that juncture – Da’Rel Scott and Dave Philistin being the obvious possibilities, though Mack Frost, Matt Furstenburg and Jordan Steffy would also qualify. All the sudden, that number could be 62.

But how did that compare to last year? One of the most foolish things I did last season was not bother with this little exercise in late November – because it would have been very revealing.

Let’s go with the same three categories, though armed with the benefit of hindsight, going into the 2007 regular season’s penultimate game at Florida State.

* Redshirts (18): Armstrong, Bowen, Davidson, Drummond, Faiella, Hampton, Hughes, Johnson, Logan, McCree, Pooler, Robinson, St. John, Smith, Tyler, L. Watson, T. Watson, Young

* Ineligible (2): Perez (transfer), Portis

* Injured (8): R. Costa, Crummey, Frost, Oquendo, Taylor, Thomas, L. Williams, Wujciak

That put the Terps down to 57 at the time, which still isn’t as low as what N.C. State is dealing with this year.

But it’s still much worse shape than Maryland finds itself in now – and does a lot to explain why the Terps are still in the conference race rather than simply hoping to go to whatever bowl game will have them.

Patrick Stevens