Football factory that it is, Alabama rightly sends a considerable number of former football players to the NFL. And meet grinder that it is, the NFL often chews a considerable number of those players up before they even see the playing field. And Nick Saban has an offer for those alumni: come back and practice with us.
In what at the time sounded like an off-handed remark, Gary Danielson mentioned during Saturday’s Alabama-LSU broadcast that the Tide had deployed former quarterback John Parker Wilson and former running back Trent Richardson in practice sessions to prepare for Danny Etling and Leonard Fournette, respectively. Upon further examination, though, certain questions of eligibility and NCAA propriety might bubble up, but the simple fact is this: as long as the former athlete is enrolled as a student, and as long as the program doesn’t openly broadcast that former athletes are working out with the current team, everything’s fine.
Here’s the NCAA bylaw that covers this circumstance:
A former student at the certifying institution (e.g., former student-athlete) may participate in an organized practice session on an occasional basis, provided the institution does not publicize the participation of the former student at any time before the practice session.
It’s frankly unsurprising that Nick Saban would be the one engaging this sort of competitive advantage — Blake Sims apparently stood in for Trevor Knight a few weeks ago — what with a healthy crop of former players bouncing around out there. For a player like Sims, who still has designs on pro ball and worked out with the Falcons this year, why not return to a trusted coach and environment to further hone his craft?
It’s frankly surprising, however, that this isn’t a more pervasive phenomenon. Granted, Saban has a deep well from which to pull when it comes to former players — far deeper than a majority of programs out there — but the mutual benefit between player and former team would seem to be a win-win for both parties. It’s so perfect as to be a no-brainer.
Freeze on Bama using former players on scout teams: "Hate that I didn't think of it first."— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) November 9, 2016
There’s nothing stopping you from doing this in the future, Hugh.
Elsewhere around the SEC ...
The SEC West lost two starting quarterbacks on Saturday, as Chad Kelly went down with a torn ACL and lateral meniscus and Trevor Knight with a shoulder injury. That means that this week’s Ole Miss-Texas A&M game will be the BACKUP QB BOWL.
THIS WEEK IN IT COULD HAPPEN: South Carolina has a path to the SEC Championship game.
College basketball starts Friday. Red Cup Rebellion is now a college basketball and food blog.