So Dabo Swinney wants to start holding spring scrimmages against other teams. It would be one of the meatiest bones thrown to college football fans in a long, long time; there's no doubt about that. Spring football with team pride on the line, even in an exhibition? You have our attention, Dabo.
This is a problematic proposition, however. Exhibition football is usually just for show, characterized by either lackadaisical effort (Pro Bowl) or vanilla defenses and a general disregard for the final score (postseason senior games).
But pitting two teams against each other in the spring, when it doesn't even count? When the real competition is going on in the two-deeps? When everyone in camp wants nothing more than to show the coach how willing they are to go out and drive a helmet through some poor schmo's sternum? Yeah, that's a recipe for needless injury.
It should be noted that there's plenty of contact in spring practice by itself. Shoulders, knees and ankles are not kept pristine outside of the annual spring game. Football is, after all, a collision sport. But in practice, that contact—that collision—is monitored and regulated, with the "hey, let's just light someone up" drills relegated to 15 minutes every other practice or so.
Moreover, even in full contact scrimmages, the guys are playing against their teammates. A safety who sees a star wideout coming across the middle, for example, is specifically instructed not to think "murder him." He's just supposed to get a hat on him and call it a play. If it's someone else's wide receiver, though? Ohhh buddy.
What it boils down to is this: I see the risk it poses to players. I don't see the benefit it offers to players. Oh, I see the benefit it offers to fans, and to coaches who want to see their players against live competition. But it's a zero-sum game for the players themselves: the possibility of playing one's way into a rotation or starting role only comes at the expense of possibly losing one's starting role or spot on the field.
Also, last I checked, Dabo wasn't talking about handing out hefty checks to these players for their troubles putting on this inter-squad spring scrimmage. No benefit there, either.
So tell me: if the players were properly represented, either with agents or a union, why would they agree to something like this? Seriously, tell me. Comment section's right there, and I read 'em all.
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