In late December 2013, a major changed occurred to college football that would – in the end – benefit all parties involved.
The NCAA amended its bylaws to allow college football coaches to require their players to participate in an eight-week period this summer for up to eight hours per week of summer activities.
In addition to this, all players who participated in this inaugural summer workout period had to be either enrolled in summer school or meet specific academic benchmarks.
So, why is this so beneficial?
With activities such as conditioning, weight training and up to two hours of film study per week being required, the WVU coaching staff was able to better-prepare their players entering fall camp.
Perhaps first-year senior associate head coach Tom Bradley, who held various top coaching positions at Penn State for 34 years, put it best when he discussed what having these eight hours a week truly meant to him as a veteran coach this summer. Especially since this was his first time to get a feel of the entire Mountaineer squad.
Plus, having learned a thing or two from legendary Penn State coach Joe Paterno, who he coached alongside all 34 years, doesn’t hurt.
“In the past, we weren’t allowed to go out and watch what was going on in the workouts during the summer,” Bradley said. “We used to have to condition a little more during camp, and now they’re already full gear and ready to go.
“We were able to coach a little bit too – it gave me a chance to get to know the players better. It wasn’t rushed, and we had time to go through things. I became more comfortable with the entire team that way.”
By establishing a certain comfort level with his players, Bradley has been able to form an ideal bond with the team – before the season even begins.
Head coach Dana Holgorsen might have given a perfect example of the benefits of the extra instructional time when he was asked about this rule being implemented into college football during Big 12 Media Days in Dallas.
“You take Clint (Trickett) last year – first time we could actually meet with him or talk ball or do a drill with him was Aug. 1,” he said. “Now with William (Crest), he got here June 7th or whatever – that’s two months of work that we’re able to do with him that wouldn’t have existed a year ago.”
So, what it comes down to for me is simple: with the NCAA finally realizing how unproductive it was without the new rule, these past few months have shown from both a player and coach perspective that the preparedness heading into the season is well ahead of any recent past season.
As a result, I believe the only way to view this whole situation is in a positive way, and one that should result in one thing for sure this season with the Mountaineers: More success on the playing field with a heightened chemistry level from top to bottom on this West Virginia squad will perhaps be able to break even in 2014 with a 6-6 record. Something that did not look too feasible at the end of the miserable 2013 season that ended in a poor 4-8 record.
Fortunately for this Mountaineer squad, with the NCAA easing up and conforming to better help players and coaches around the nation this past summer, WVU has ultimately been able to get rid of all the bad tastes that were left in its mouth.
But that has completely changed with this squad. It is returning 55 players and now has turned the sense of uncertainty that filled the Mountaineer locker room last season into a great amount of certainty among this squad.