DeKALB – The American Football Coaches Association may open discussions to allow college football teams to scrimmage against other schools during the spring.
But don’t expect the Northern Illinois football team to travel to Madison, Wis., or Champaign to practice with Wisconsin or Illinois any time soon.
“I think that just opens up Pandora’s box into a whole lot of other issues that I don’t want to deal with,” NIU coach Dave Doeren said after Wednesday’s practice at Huskie Stadium.
“I’d rather deal with my team right now. You’ve got to start talking about who you’re traveling to go see and who’s going to pay for it. I don’t want to talk about that stuff in the spring. We’ve got too many things we’re trying to deal with in the spring.”
An Associated Press report quoted AFCA president and Harvard coach Tim Murphy as saying it would be practical to have teams run through drills together. Murphy added that teams may also scrimmage against one another. When the AFCA board meets next month in Arizona, it may propose an NCAA rule change that would allow schools to scrimmage or practice against each other during the spring.
But NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch just doesn’t think competing against another team’s defense would help.
Many of the 15 spring practices are used to install plays, and to get younger players used to the system. With the current timetable, Lynch doesn’t think that would work.
“Spring ball is more about learning the offense and just getting the young guys out there and getting more reps for the younger guys,” he said. “I think if we had more spring practices, I think that’s something you could do later on.”
Not every Huskie is against the idea.
Senior defensive end Sean Progar thinks that practicing against the same offense every single practice becomes monotonous. He said having a fresh look at a different team would be beneficial, especially if the Huskies played against other MAC schools.
“I think that would help a lot,” Progar said. “You would compete a lot harder, even if it’s just a scrimmage. I think that would be great. … It would be a good measuring stick for the young guys to see where they are.”
But current proposals likely would have schools from smaller conferences visiting automatic qualifying schools. Doeren just doesn’t see how that would benefit a team like NIU.
“I’m sure it’s real convenient for a school that’s ranked fifth in the country to have another school come see them,” Doeren said. “But for a mid-major, we’d be traveling to see other people, and that’s not something I’d want to do here.”