Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Colleges

College coaches mixed on having spring football games against other schools

Ask college football coaches how they feel about schools going against each other in spring scrimmages — an idea that will be discussed at next month's American Football Coaches Association board meeting — and you'll get a wide range of responses.

"It's a neat idea that's never going to happen," Florida coach Will Muschamp said Thursday night in Gainesville. "Spring, to me, is for developing players. It's for a new coach putting his systems in, schematically on offense and defense. I don't see it being very feasible, in my opinion. … I don't think it's realistic. … No, I'm not pushing for it."

Some coaches don't mind the idea much. Not every school fills its stadium with game-day-sized crowds in April, and it is appealing to have two rivals meet for a friendly exhibition, as NCAA teams do in other sports, such as soccer.

USF coach Skip Holtz said he'd like the buzz among fans generated by such an event, even if his focus stayed on improving his players.

"I think it'd create a great atmosphere for spring games," Holtz said. "Everybody right now is extremely thin at trying to put 22 (players) on the field at the same time. Now you have to get 44 ready (for a spring intrasquad game).

"I think it would be great to have the opportunity to (play other schools), but the thing I would not want it to take away from, I think spring is great for player development. You're not trying to game-plan, you're not trying to beat an opponent. You're watching your own film."

Coaches such as Alabama's Nick Saban and Oklahoma's Bob Stoops are with Muschamp, liking spring drills just the way they are. Others, including Duke's David Cutcliffe, like the idea of practicing against another team.

And others, such as Michigan's Brady Hoke, would like to have a closed scrimmage — no fans or reporters — so teams could go against each other without the distraction of trying to win at the expense of improving.

Different schools have different levels of interest in spring games. Some charge $5 or $10 and draw tens of thousands. A younger program such as USF might draw 3,000 to 4,000 for a free scrimmage, such as Saturday's at Raymond James Stadium.

Holtz likes the excitement a scrimmage between schools would bring, even if the focus was not on the scoreboard for once.

"I would love to finish up spring with a scrimmage against another team, knowing Saturday night at 6 o'clock we were playing somebody else, somebody here in-state," Holtz said. "I think it would be a great opportunity, kind of like a preseason (NFL) football game. High school football does it, even if it's for a half.

"Maybe you don't play your starters, but you play the guys you want to get an evaluation on. It's not about whether you win or lose that game. It's the game-time experience you get for your players to get ready for the fall."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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