Spring football may have a new look in the future

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ANN ARBOR, MICH. (AP) - Michigan facing another school in a spring game at the Big House?

Probably not.

Wolverines coach Brady Hoke working with Eastern Michigan’s Ron English to put together a plan to benefit both team during a day or two of spring drills?

That could happen someday.

When the American Football Coaches Association board meets in Arizona next month, possibly proposing NCAA rule changes that would allow schools to scrimmage or practice against other programs during the spring is expected to be on the agenda.

“Based upon the buzz about this within the profession the last couple of months, I’m sure we’ll be talking about this when we meet,” AFCA president and Harvard coach Tim Murphy told The Associated Press. “I think the NFL model would be a good way to do it, going through drills with another team. If you wanted to hold a scrimmage, you could do it, but it would just be more complex.

“It wouldn’t be unprecedented, though, because other college sports do it.”

Basketball, soccer and field hockey are the Division I sports allowed to have scrimmages or exhibition games before their first game.

NCAA rules strictly prohibit football programs from practicing or scrimmaging against other schools during spring ball.

Alabama’s Nick Saban and Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops are among the coaches who would rather leave spring ball just the way it is.

“You can really focus on trying to develop unknowns in your players, which I think is really important,” Saban said. “I think that’s the real value of spring practice.”

Stoops brought up the major obstacle that might stop the changes from happening.

“My main concern always this time of year is having my full squad healthy, ready to enter the summer, to continue to build strength, speed and get ready for the year when we do play people,” Stoops said.

Nebraska Athletic Director and former football coach Tom Osborne said the changes would alter the objectives of spring ball by competitive coaches who would spend too much time preparing for the opponent.

“Spring ball is best used for development,” Osborne said.

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