The rules change permits contact between coaches and players for the eight weeks leading up to official practices that begin in August. The players can take part in up to eight hours per week of required weight training and conditioning, and two of the eight hours can be used for film review, all with oversight from the 10-man on-field coaching staff.
Though the staff cannot run full practices – anything resembling a ball cannot be used – it does allow the coaches to at least have more contact with their players, including the recently arrived freshmen, during the summer months.
Head coach Urban Meyer said at an appearance this summer that he was in favor of the rule changes, which began when the new freshmen arrived on campus June 16, and defensive coordinator Luke Fickell agreed.
“The reality is that it’s best probably for the young guys, those freshman guys that are coming in, that they actually get an opportunity when they’re on campus for the first three or four weeks that actually we can be around them and help them out a little bit,” Fickell added. “It was always a touchy subject in the past when those freshmen for the first time would come on campus and we could have no contact with them.
“It’s not just a benefit for them to learn football, but their growth and moving away from home and starting a new chapter of their life.”
Whether this will lead to more freshmen playing -- especially as part of OSU's highly rated 2014 class -- remains to be seen.
According to an NCAA press release from October, the changes “Allow football student-athletes to participate in preparations for the season during an eight-week period each summer. Those weeks can include eight hours per week of required weight training and conditioning. Up to two of the eight hours can consist of film review. Student-athletes who participate in the summer activities must be enrolled in summer school or meet specific academic benchmarks. The model is similar to those adopted by men’s and women’s basketball in the last two years.”
Previously, only the strength and conditioning staffs could have direct access to the players, doing so through “voluntary weight training and conditioning activities” for up to eight hours per week for eight weeks.
Here’s some reaction from other coaches around college football:
"I think it's a good rule for player development. Our players do work out with their strength and conditioning coaches to this point, but I think especially for young players to have an opportunity to visit with their coach for a couple hours and be able to learn is probably a real advantage for the development of young players." – Nick Saban, Alabama LINK
“What we’re going to do is a tiered system,” Franklin said. “At the beginning of the summer, it’s going to be mainly strength and conditioning. As the summer goes on and it gets closer to the season, we’ll go a half-hour of film, an hour of film, an hour-and-a-half of film to two hours of film. So it’ll grow as the year goes on. We mapped out the whole summer and decided how we were going to break it up. The closer we get to training camp, and especially when the freshmen are arriving, you’d like to have some time with those guys to lay a foundation.” – James Franklin, Penn State LINK
“It’s a balancing act because it comes off of your countable hours. For us, being as young as we are, it’s a huge benefit for us. To be able to spend that time prepping our individuals for once training camps hits, I think it’s a game-changer. If we were an older and more mature football team, maybe it wouldn’t help as much. But the ability now to go into a classroom setting will be very beneficial to us because we’re going to have to play a lot of freshmen. At the same time, it’s a balancing act in making sure we don’t take those two hours away from our strength & conditioning time each and every week. It’s still about the overall development, but I like it because we talk about to develop of the total student-athlete. Now, you’re able to compass the physical and mental due to the classroom setting. Still, it’s going to a balancing act all summer to determine if we use all two hours, if we use an hour-and-a-half, if we need one hour. We'll balance it based on what our team needs from strength work to mental work at that particular time.” – Butch Jones, Tennessee LINK
“I’m not going to be around that much, that’s for sure.” – Steve Spurrier, South Carolina LINK