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Why the NCAA’s Newly-Passed Redshirt Rule is a Huge Win for Oklahoma State

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The NCAA passed legislation this week that will no longer allow schools to block transfers to schools. Under the previous set of rules, student-athletes were required to receive unconditional releases. And coaches had the right (if they wanted to bring a PR nightmare on themselves) to prohibit the transferring student-athlete to certain schools by simply blocking it.

The legislation was a big win for student-athlete rights, no doubt. But the news buried the real headline story from the same day: the NCAA has also passed a new set of rules that will allow players to participate in any four games in a season and still use a redshirt that year.

That means that, had the new set of rules (that will be implemented this season) been in place in 2014, Mason Rudolph could have played the Baylor, OU and Cactus Bowl games (as he did while simultaneously burning his redshirt) without sacrificing a year of eligibility. So in theory (again, had this been implemented ahead of the 2014 season), Rudolph could be heading into his senior year in 2018. How about that?

The fact that this has been passed is obviously big news for college football. Though I’m sad we couldn’t have seen this passed last year to see Chuba run wild against Kansas, the big win for OSU is that it may be put to use immediately … with quarterback Spencer Sanders.

We’re a long ways from the imminent quarterback competition actually heating up, but even if Sanders doesn’t win the job this fall as a freshman, the new set of rules will allow OSU to play him any four games without any loss of eligibility. So if Taylor Cornelius slings it for 500 and five touchdowns in a season-opening blowout, Sanders could be garbage-time entertainment with no consequence on his future eligibility.

Development is key for every college football program, but perhaps no more so than at OSU, where three-stars develop into valuable contributors and undersized athletes develop into physical specimens. Some players may not be able to take advantage of the new set of rules because of a lack of size, strength, talent, etc. But for those on the fringe of being either a redshirt candidate or an immediate contributor as freshmen, this gives OSU coaches the option to test the waters, so to speak, to give those fringe players a chance and see if their performance warrants more than a four-game trial.

No matter if Spencer Sanders succeeds Mason Rudolph as QB1 to start the season or not, the new set of rules likely suggests that it’s only a matter of when, not if, we’ll see the freshman standout in 2018. Even if it’s only four games.

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