The Division I Football Oversight Committee will examine potential changes to the football playing season, including the possibility of a 14-week schedule, among the key agenda items on which it plans to focus in the coming months.
Committee members began preliminary talks on that issue, as well as the size of football support staffs and the approach to determining when a student has used a season of competition, during their quarterly meeting this week in Indianapolis.
The committee’s in-depth discussion of the playing season included consideration of a standardized 14-week season and possible changes to the preseason practice period.
The elimination of two-a-day practices beginning with the 2017 season is playing a role in those discussion. As schools evaluate the effect of that change on their preseason schedules, a waiver is in place to permit schools to start their preseason practices up to seven days earlier than the rule allows. For some schools, that could mean having football teams reporting to preseason practice during the last few days of July.
The committee acknowledged that a waiver for the 2017 preseason was a way to help the membership adapt to a preseason practice model that does not permit two-a-day practices. However, the committee agreed with feedback from the membership that a new playing season model that returns the start of preseason practice to August is preferred.
The Division I Football Competition Committee is charged with delving into the issue. The competition committee will present its recommendations to the oversight committee in October.
“A variety of different models will be looked at,” said Bob Bowlsby, the oversight committee chair and commissioner of the Big 12 Conference. “We think there are some ways that the beginning of preseason practice can be kept in August and still meet the appropriate safety considerations.”
Using a season of competition
In the coming months, committee members will examine whether the rule determining when student-athletes have used a season of competition should be modified.
The current rule considers a student-athlete to have used a season of competition once he or she participates in competition, unless the student satisfies an exception or qualifies for a waiver.
A concept presented to the committee by the American Football Coaches Association suggests allowing a football student to compete in a limited number of football games throughout the season without using a season of competition.
The AFCA’s rationale for its recommendation is that each year some students exhaust a year of athletic eligibility by participating in a few games because of injuries sustained by others at their position. Those situations can be difficult for both the coach and the affected students.
“When that happens, it is unfortunate,” Bowlsby said. “We are going to look at it. There could be other implications that we need to take into consideration.”
Size of football staffs
Discussions about the size of football support staffs around the country continued at the committee’s June meeting.
To improve their understanding of staff size, the Division I Football Oversight Committee surveyed the membership, asking for information regarding the number of people at football programs across the country and the roles they play, including positions such as strength and conditioning, quality control, analysts and operational and administrative positions.
A working group of oversight committee members will continue to review the issue this summer and present their recommendations to the oversight committee that reconvenes Oct. 2-3.