Jim Harbaugh likes new NCAA football redshirt rule


Jim Harbaugh likes the new football redshirt rule adopted by the NCAA earlier this summer.

Speaking this week on his “Attack Each Day” podcast, the Michigan football coach called the new policy allowing student-athletes to play in up to four games without burning their redshirt “a good rule.”

“Really player-friendly, student-athlete friendly,” Harbaugh said. “The rule had been that you could play in four games and still be redshirted, but they needed to have been in four of the first six games.

“And then there had to have been (as) to why you didn’t play in the remaining games.”

Harbaugh, of course, was referring to the NCAA’s medical redshirt rule, which limited football players to four games or 30 percent of games in a season to qualify. Wide receiver Tarik Black obtained a medical redshirt in 2017 after suffering a broken foot in his fourth game.

Right now, football scholarship athletes have five academic years to satisfy their four years of eligibility, though they can petition the NCAA for medical hardship.

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“Now those four games can come at any time in the season, and I’m pretty sure you don’t have to have a reason for why you didn’t play in a fifth or sixth game,” Harbaugh said.

“Four games allows them to get their feet wet, and also be able to save that year of eligibility for a fifth year.”

But this new rule, announced in June, gives head coaches and football teams more flexibility in how they use players, especially freshmen. 

Typically, a decision is made to redshirt a freshman early in the season, or at least midway through, and the player continues to practice on the scout team. Now, Michigan and others could choose to wait to play them.

“They could be ready for the end of the season, can provide depth,” Harbaugh said. “And here’s the latest twist, with some of the players not participating in bowl games because they don’t want to get hurt and lower their draft stock: now you have some of those younger players that are ready now by the end of their freshman season.

“They can step in and get experience for the following season. I think it’s a good thing for all concerned.”

It’s unclear at this point how Harbaugh and the Michigan coaching staff plan to use the 19 members of its 2018 recruiting class, but they certainly have more options at their disposal. 

And for Harbaugh, that’s a win-win for everyone.

“I don’t see a negative at all,” he said. “There is no negative with it.”

Harbaugh was not asked about the other piece of legislation adopted by the NCAA in June, one sets up a national, public football transfer database and prevents schools from blocking players from leaving for specific institutions.

NOTE: The Big Ten unveiled its list of distinguished scholar award recipients, which included nine Michigan football players during the 2017-18 academic year: Ian Bunting (who’s now at California), Joseph Files, Greg Froelich, Noah Furbush, Louis Grodman, Matt Mitchell, Grant Newsome, Stephen Spanellis, and Nick Volk.



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