Change is coming to college football, and this time, the changes are on the field.
While the last few weeks have been spent on transfer legislation and athlete compensation changes, college sports leaders are ready to make an adjustment between the lines: preseason camp is getting a makeover.
In response to the results of a five-year concussion study released earlier this spring, an NCAA legislative committee is deeply exploring ways to make the annual August camp a safer place, authorities said. Illustrated Sports in interviews this week. The Soccer Oversight Committee (FOC), the highest policy-making group in college soccer, plans to soon come up with recommendations that will significantly change one of soccer’s most exhausting traditions.
Committee members are considering a reduction in full-fill camp practices (from 21 to eight), the complete abolition of crash drills (such as the “Oklahoma” drill), and limiting a team to two games per camp ( dropped from three and a half).
The changes come from a study published in February that was funded by the NCAA and the Department of Defense. The study tracked head exposures on six Division I college football teams from 2015 to 2019, and found that 72% of concussions occurred during practice and nearly 50% occurred in preseason practice, despite that accounts for only a fifth of the football season. Total head impacts in the preseason occurred at twice the regular season rate. More than 650 players from Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Wisconsin, UCLA, Air Force and Army participated in the study.
The study leaves college administrators with no choice but to re-adjust college football preseason camp policies, says Shane Lyons, West Virginia athletic director and president of the FOC.
“The data is the data,” Lyons said. Y. “We will have to make changes. We have to reduce the exposure that we are having with concussions in the preseason practice period. “
Although the changes seem significant, they shouldn’t affect most coaches dramatically. Results of a survey by the American Football Coaches Association this spring showed that many coaches already adhere to such camp practices, says Todd Berry, AFCA executive director.
The potential new rules have coaches primarily interested in one area: preparing their young players for high-speed, college-level contact play.
“Our coaches don’t want concussions. We don’t go out and beat each other, ”says Berry. “There is no value in that, but there needs to be enough contact to allow the players to prepare their bodies for contact or else you are asking for more injuries on the field. What the coaches are concerned about is being able to evaluate a younger player and teach them how to prepare for contact.
The changes are far from official. A subgroup of the FOC has spent the last few weeks working out the details and will present the changes to the full committee at its meeting Thursday. The new policies will then be sent to member schools for comment before the FOC officially recommends the legislation to the NCAA Division I Council, which in turn must approve the changes at its May 19 meeting.
The new rules are the latest way the NCAA is trying to relax what was once known as the most excruciating and painstaking experience in soccer. For years now, Fall Camp has witnessed tooth extraction in the name of safety. In 2017, the NCAA banned two per day, and in 2018, the governing body reduced the number of preseason practices from 29 to 25.
The latest imminent modifications keep the number of practices (25) for the same number of days (29) but adjust the type of practices that coaches can perform.
In the latest work model, a 25 practice camp should include at least nine no-pad and no-contact practices (helmets only). That’s higher than the current rule of two mandatory no-pad practices, which are part of an acclimatization period at the beginning of each camp. No more than eight practices can present full pads and full contact, up from 21 under the current rule.
Lyons refers to the working model as 9-8-8: a minimum of nine practices without padding, eight practices in shells (helmets and shoulder pads), and a maximum of eight practices in full pads with full contact. In projectiles, players cannot be knocked to the ground, per current rules.
The working model would also reduce the games from three and a half to two; allow a maximum of 90 minutes of full tackling in a single padded practice; and would prohibit more than two consecutive practices with full padding, requiring coaches to enter practices without contact and without protection.
Lyons left the door ajar for future changes to the model.
“Is it going to be the perfect model? No, “says Lyons,” but it’s not the end at all. We are in a short period of time here to make these changes. Does the camp in 2022 look different? Might.”
One thing you may never return to college football practice: archaic head hitting and one-on-one collision drills. That includes the Oklahoma drill, the dash drill, and Bull in the Ring. The prohibition of these exercises would be throughout the year, unless the exercises are carried out entirely in college football.
The changes are similar to what the NFL and its players union have done. Your collective bargaining agreement limits padding practices and these crash drills.
“A lot of our coaches have already eliminated the drills,” says Berry. “I don’t know anyone who has done Bull in the Ring since the 1980s.”
No other changes are expected for camping. The committee rejected a request from the SEC to expand the camp by six days to allow more days off. According to a letter obtained by Y and sent to the FOC, the league wanted to do 25 practices over 35 days, lengthening the camp to extend their full contact practices.
In the meantime, summer workouts will revert to the same protocols as in previous years, Lyons says, which means eliminating the two-week OTA-like workouts soccer teams were allowed in the last two weeks of July.
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