It was revealed yesterday that the NCAA granted a waiver submitted by Ole Miss to allow Dan Werner to observe Bo Wallace during summer workouts, normally a big no-no. This was a special case, since Wallace sustained an injury to his throwing shoulder last season and is rehabbing from surgery to repair it. Ole Miss quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Dan Werner will now be able to watch Wallace during summer workouts and correct him when he uses a throwing motion that would damage his shoulder. While no one has been able to obtain a copy of the actual waiver, it is assumed that the scope of Werner's participation would be limited to that particular aspect of throwing.
Of course, that's not necessarily easy to enforce or monitor. Bo Wallace is a starting SEC quarterback. I don't think it's likely that a misstep from Werner (which may or may not happen), teaching him technique that is unrelated to his injury, would be reported by Wallace to the NCAA. That's the potential "problem" with this situation. I personally think the rule banning summer practice (even voluntarily) in the presence of a coach is over-reaching, but that debate isn't at the forefront right now.
The problem people who value this rule see is the opportunity for schools around the country to mysteriously have all their skill players develop injuries in the Spring game and then be eligible for this waiver during the Summer. I would guess the NCAA will act relatively conservatively in terms of who is awarded waivers, but this certainly opens the door.
John Infante has an interesting take here. I certainly think there's merit to the idea that Werner could end up giving instruction to Wallace outside of the scope of the injury. I don't know either way. Maybe he'll abide by the rule perfectly. I don't think it's speaking ill of any coach though to say that in order to increase the likelihood of success at his job he may be willing to sidestep an arbitrary and relatively pointless rule. I would guess many people do so, particularly in professions around which millions of dollars are often based on the play of one player on the field. That this is special time to spend with a quarterback of all things, can't be taken lightly.
The issue actually got me thinking about what it will be like once schools finally pay players outside of room, board, and other small perks. When a player is actually making a good amount of money for play, can the school make the argument that they should be able to hold organized Summer practices? After all, it seems that the argument against such a practice is currently that the student-athletes are amateurs and thus deserve time off like other students. Would that argument be washed away by salaries? I don't necessarily have the answer, but I think it's an interesting question.
No matter what, it's certainly a good thing for Ole Miss to have Dan Werner spend extra time with Wallace. Even if Werner abides by the waiver's parameters and only shows Wallace how to avoid re-injury, it's an encouraging thing to have a tutor there to manage workload and technique.