Wednesday, December 16, 2009

NCAA should let big schools attend Shrine practice

The NCAA continues its mistake—begun several years back--of not letting FBS (Division I) college coaches attend Shrine Bowl practices. For years, the Shrine Bowl was a place where an under-recruited kid, perhaps from a smaller school, could prove that he could play with the big boys and make a name for himself.

I always called it the “Sam Aiken effect,” in honor of a player from a small school in eastern North Carolina who had a great Shrine week and by Monday had an offer from North Carolina. He took it and went on to play in the NFL.

But with the proliferation of combines and all-star games everywhere in recent years, the NCAA cracked down, and refused to let the big boys attend those events. The Shrine game got swept up along with all the others.

And borderline kids are practicing in front of Division II coaches only this week, schools that would have offered them anyway in many cases.

“It hurts a lot of those kids,” said’s Miller Safrit as he watched North Carolina’s team practice Tuesday. “There are a lot of players that would be, if not at the BCS level, a I-A or I-AA (FCS) that could help a team like an Appalachian get back deep into the playoffs.

“So there are a lot of guys that may not have those offers, and the 1-A schools and the 1-AA schools that are trying to fill up their rosters in the last two months, they would come here and they would find their team at the Shrine Bowl.

“It’s helping Division II schools that are out here and able to watch players, but Division I (FBS) coaches have to read reports and follow up after that; get film. And it’s a long process, whereas if they were out here they could offer on Monday—today if they really wanted to.”

--Stan Olson

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