Ever hear the old football adage about, “For every freshman you play, it’s going to cost you a win?”
No? You never heard that one?
Good. It’s not true anyway. Not anymore. And anyone who holds to such an antiquated way of thinking is stuck in the Bear Bryant-Woody Hayes-Frank Broyles era of college football when freshmen weren’t eligible anyway.
Nick Saban’s Alabama team could be playing what seems like an entire recruiting class of freshmen Saturday – which is understandable, given where the program has been the last few years – when the Crimson Tide opens the season against Clemson.
But get this: Auburn, that team that’s won 50 games in the last five years, that’s considered a favorite to win the SEC West, that’s the model of stability in college football as Tommy Tuberville enters his 10th season, could have 10 sophomore starters and as many as eight freshmen expected to contribute in some way.
In 10 years, you’d think Auburn would have built up a team of seniors and juniors. You’d think the Tigers would be so deep that sophomores and freshmen would know they have to wait their turn for playing time.
But it doesn’t work that way anymore. Because in college football, there is a new coaching adage regarding freshmen: Use them, or lose them.