Yesterday, AL.com posted an article that described Mullen's idea of adding a fifth year of eligibility. It isn't very different from Stricklin's suggestion back in February. Freshmen entering a new school will need a 2.3 GPA in their core classes instead of a 2.0 to play in their first year. Instead of forcing athletes that might fall a tenth of a point short of the new GPA requirement, Mullen suggests anyone who has a 2.3 GPA or higher receive a fifth year of eligibility. It wasn't mentioned in the article, but I'm assuming that Mullen, like Stricklin, wants to do away with the policy of redshirting. There should be five years of eligibility for a couple of reasons.
Redshirting Causes Unnecessary Drama
If you haven't repressed Stansbury's last season from your memory, do you remember Roquez Johnson's contributions that season? Stansbury burned his redshirt to play for 45 minutes. 4 of them were against SEC opponents, and those minutes came in 4 different games. If Stansbury made the right choice, Johnson would have redshirted, and would be eligible to play for Howland this year. Having five years of eligibility instead of four years plus an optional redshirt would have avoided this problem. Not playing during an athlete's first season can be beneficial. However, having five years of eligibility doesn't prevent a coach from sitting a player out if necessary.
Plenty of Students Spend a Fifth Year in School
According to the New York Times, the majority of students graduate in four years at only 50 of 580 public four year institutions. The only downside to spending five years of school instead of four is that you start making money one year later. Athletes who redshirt are typically spending five years in school anyway. Athletes who play in their first year are actually missing out on an extra year that redshirted players are getting.
Having a fifth year wouldn't matter to some players. Some get drafted early, and a few players like Evan Sobiesk decide to focus on school instead of football. Walk ons, and athletes who are on partial scholarships with teams such as baseball and golf, may not be interested in a fifth year. Even though every player wouldn't want a fifth year, it is an option they should have.