“We have had a few guys in the last couple of years that we probably should have redshirted them, but as a head coach sometimes you get talked into it” by coaches, he said. “‘I have to have this guy. We are going to use him.’ Then you get halfway through the season and the kid has played five snaps other than special teams. Once you make that decision, and you do it the first game, you are locked in and there is no going back from there.”
Johnson’s new defensive coordinator, former Virginia coach Al Groh, liked to say “when they’re ready, we’re ready,” and many times burned player’s redshirts late in the season.
Often, those players played sparingly, but still lost a year of eligibility.
“I’m seeing there’s a bunch of guys that should have had the benefit of being redshirted,” new Cavaliers coach Mike London said of the team he took over in December.
He has used two true freshmen this year, but is unlikely to play any others.
Virginia just lost starting tight end Joe Torchia for the season to a shoulder injury that will require surgery, but London said his two freshman tight ends are off limits.
“I think Jake McGee and Zach Swanson, I think they’re going to be really, really good tight ends. At this point, if I take that redshirt right now, it’s a year of development that I’ll lose from them because right now, our strength guy has got them and they’re in the mindset of getting bigger, faster, stronger and not worrying about the plays. Now, if you play a guy, he’s got to worry about the plays.
“At this point, it’s not worth it to me.”
London, however, also cautioned before the season started that the Cavaliers would struggle, and made it clear that building up his roster would be a large priority. In essence, he’s applying the widely held view that redshirting is the best way to do it.
Duke coach David Cutcliffe isn’t sure he has that option.
“You get into five or six games deep, you really don’t like to have to do that,” he said of burning a redshirt. “Unfortunately, with scholarship limitations and injury bugs, you can get so low at a position that you really have no choice. You take a private school like we are, we don’t have an enormous number of walk-ons. So we can’t fix it with a walk-on.”
That option exists for a player who has played in four or fewer of the team’s first six games, said Tim Parker, Virginia Tech’s senior assistant athletic director for compliance.
Spaziani, though, with a 10-8 record at B.C., may not feel he has that option.
“You want to win,” he said. “You’ve got to win every Saturday.”