While Jim Harbaugh is on record supporting a bigger field of teams playing for a National Championship, the Michigan head football coach also would like to see some changes made to the current redshirt rules.
Before Michigan’s loss to South Carolina in the Outback Bowl, Harbaugh was asked about the status of Tarik Black, the Wolverine’s promising freshman who injured his foot in the win against Air Force in Week 3. In not so many words, Harbaugh “suggested” that playing in a bowl game wouldn’t be worth missing an entire season of eligibility.
The 6-foot-3, 206-pound Black, who underwent surgery after suffering a cracked bone on the outside of his foot, was the team’s leading receiver before going down. He led the Wolverines in receptions (11) and receiving yards (149) after three games and had five catches for 55 yards against Air Force.
Black first must complete his four years of eligibility to be eligible for the medical redshirt. The rule states that a player cannot appear in more than three games or 30 percent of his team’s games and also stipulates that the injury must occur during the first half of the schedule.
That part of the rule sent Harbaugh into the rule book.
“Right now if you play anybody in a bowl game they would lose their redshirt year,” Harbaugh said. “In the discussion, I think the bowl game should be treated as a new year. It should be treated as next year.
“If they count that as the fourth game that they’ve played in or the third or the second or the first and it still does not burn their redshirt year, I think that would be a good thing for the players, it would be a good thing for all concerned.”
Harbaugh, and other coaches, would welcome the opportunity of getting a freshman player into a bowl game without it costing an entire season.
“What a wonderful thing it would be to play some of the freshmen in that bowl game and not lose their redshirt year,” he said. “This is a timely time to talk about it because there’s real-life examples where these bowl games could be treated as next year and not part of the regular season.”
The American Football Coaches Association have proposed a change that would allow players to play in up to four games at any point during a season – including a bowl game – without it costing a redshirt year.
“It’s being discussed at the NCAA level that, I think the proposal is, if they are playing four games maximum, no matter when they occur, the first four games or the last four, say they only played in one game, like a bowl game, their redshirt year would not be affected,” Harbaugh said. “I think that’s a real good discussion and dialogue to be having right now that freshmen who have redshirted up to this point could still play in a bowl game and still be a redshirted player that would have their five-year clock.”