Written by Morgan Moriarty at SB Nation.com
Alabama head coach Nick Saban is preparing his team for the College Football Playoff National Championship against No. 2 Clemson. A tool at his disposal is one that allows him to use some of his former Crimson Tide players on scout team to prepare for the upcoming opponent. This week, he told reporters that he will use former Bama players to simulate Deshaun Watson during practice.
Asked if he’ll use any former players on the scout team this week to help prepare for Deshaun Watson, Saban answered, “Yep”
— Matt Zenitz (@mzenitz) January 5, 2017
Now, it’s unclear who he’ll utilize, but he does have a talented player already on his team who could help — his quarterback, Jalen Hurts. In fact, last year Hurts, who early enrolled at Alabama in January, was used on the scout team to prepare the defense for Watson. The Tide beat Clemson 45-40 in the 2016 National Championship.
But going back to Saban using his former players: he’s done this before this season. Former Crimson Tide quarterback Blake Sims was used to simulate Aggies quarterback Trevor Knight. For Alabama’s game against LSU in November, former Tide running back Trent Richardson and quarterback John Parker Wilson were brought in to simulate LSU’s Leonard Fournette and Danny Etling.
In all three of the aforementioned games, Alabama went 3-0. So you’re probably thinking: How is Alabama allowed to do this? As it turns out, it’s completely permitted under NCAA rules. Alabama is able to have non-students participate in practice thanks to an exception to the practice rules that the NCAA adopted in 2011. NCAA bylaw 126.96.36.199 reads:
A former student at the certifying institution (e.g., former student-athlete) may participate in an organized practice session on an occasional basis, provided the institution does not publicize the participation of the former student at any time before the practice session.
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