This spring, the NCAA began allowing men’s and women’s soccer teams to scrimmage against one another. Men’s and women’s basketball teams, as well as the volleyball teams, have been playing against each other for a number of years now with exhibition games or closed practices.
One of the few sports left the NCAA does not allow a school to scrimmage or practice with another school is football.
Head coaches, like Clemson’s Dabo Swinney, have been advocating for it for years in football, but there is no traction or momentum for the rule to be changed anytime soon.
“Even if you don’t have the fans there, just a have practice,” Swinney said to The Clemson Insider and the rest of the media this past Tuesday prior to the IPTAY Prowl & Growl event in Columbia. “Basketball does it. Our basketball team plays somebody every year and nobody sees it. But that is fine.”
This past fall, the men’s basketball team hosted Tennessee in an exhibition game at Littlejohn Coliseum. It was a good barometer for Brad Brownell’s and Rick Barns’ team because both schools went on to play in the NCAA Tournament this year.
Swinney feels having the ability to scrimmage or practice against someone else in the spring or during fall camp could go a long way in helping the coaches gage their teams and where they are at. College football is the only level in football that is not allowed to play scrimmage against another team.
High school football allows it with jamborees. The NFL allows teams to practice against one another as well as play preseason games.
“You also want to play someone where all twenty-two are not your toes, fingers, shoulders and knees. You know! You’re hundred percent invested every time you scrimmage,” Swinney said. “I just think teams get familiar with each other and know each other and things like that.
“It would be great, even if we did not get to scrimmage, but to practice one-on-one. You know … one-on-one routes. One-on-one D-line vs. O-Line, inside drills, do some skelly, stuff like that. True practice stuff … that would be great. I don’t think that has any momentum at all, but I would love it.”
There are other head coaches who agree with Swinney, but the movement, as he said, has not gained any momentum.
“It has been something we have talked about for a long time, but it has never gotten any traction,” he said.
Maybe one day it will.