darlington Report: Oklahoma Center, Ty Darlington, Will Not Receive Redshirt For 2013 Season

Image via NewsOK

If you haven’t already seen, Jason Kersey of The Oklahoman is reporting that Oklahoma center Ty Darlington will not receive a redshirt for this past season despite being active for a total of just nine plays.

Many believed the plan coming into the season, with a senior (Gabe Ikard, obviously) All-American candidate in front of him, for Darlington to redshirt, be the starter coming into 2014, and then have three more years of eligibility remaining. Had Ikard gone down with an injury, it would have likely forced the OU coaches’ hand and Darlington would have had to play. That did not happen, Darlington never even played during garbage time, so the assumption that the plan was to redshirt all along looks to be a fair one. However, it appears as though a mistake on the coaches part was made and unfortunately 2013 now looks to have been a completely wasted year for Darlington.

The NCAA’s redshirt rule is one that often leads to a great deal of confusion. In my experience, many fans have been under the mistaken impression that if a player sees the field for even a single snap their redshirt is immediately burned. That is not actually the case.

If you look at NCAA’s bylaw 14.2.4 on Hardship Waivers, the rule applicable here is, um, somewhat clearly stated:

In team sports, the injury or illness occurs when the student-athlete has not participated in more than three contests or dates of competition (whichever is applicable to that sport) or 30 percent (whichever number is greater) of the institution’s scheduled or completed contests or dates of competition in his or her sport.

Couple things here before we get into the crux of the rule itself. You may be wondering “Was Darlington even injured this year?” And the answer, as far as anyone outside of the Switzer Center knows, would be no. There have been no reports of an injury and/or illness, but this part of the rule is something programs work around all the time. ‘Phantom’ injuries are routinely used and the rule/NCAA have proved to be fairly easy to manipulate with respect to hardship waivers. It’s a grey enough area of the rule that the perception seems to be so long as you don’t abuse it, the NCAA will typically work with you.

But back to the matter at hand and the reasoning as to why Darlington will reportedly not be allowed a redshirt. The 30% stipulation of the rule above is the issue.

According to OU’s official site, Darlington saw the field in just three games this year; Louisiana-Monroe, Notre Dame, and Texas Tech. If you look at Oklahoma’s schedule, there were twelve games scheduled and simple math will tell you that: 3 / 12 = 25%. Which means that any snaps Darlington received in Oklahoma’s first three games would have fallen within the rule and would not have disqualified Darlington for a redshirt year.

However, once he saw the field at Notre Dame (OU’s fourth game: 4 / 12 = 33.3%), according to the letter or the rule, he lost the chance for a redshirt. And of course seeing the field even later in the season against Texas Tech only further eliminated his chances.

So, on its surface, it would appear as if the Oklahoma coaches have made a fairly significant mistake and have cost Darlington a year of eligibility both they and he would have benefitted from.

It bares mentioning that if this report proves to be true, Darlington would still have a redshirt year available to him. However that would require him to sit for another year — following the letter of the rule this time — but with Ikard now gone (as well as Austin Woods) and no other obvious candidate currently on the roster to play a year at center, Darlington sitting again, say for the 2014 season, does not appear to be a viable option.

Kersey’s report made no mention of whether or not this reported ruling has been appealed on Darlington’s part, so this may not be the end of the story quite yet. But as it stands today, according to Kersey’s source Darlington will be classified for a junior heading into next season.

  • http://www.TheFootballBrainiacs.com/ JY

    Well that sucks.

  • Kyle

    Would this be a situation where, if he wanted to play an additional or fifth year, he could apply for it again and have his case looked at? This seems like unfortunate oversight by OU coaches .

    • Jordan Esco

      You only get a fifth year w/ a redshirt or hardship waiver. He still has the option of either at this point, but it would require him missing a year. Which, at this point, just isn’t feasible b/c OU doesn’t have any other centers ready to go.

      • Ed Cotter

        The only good thing about still having that redshirt year is in case he gets injured this coming season or 2015 and would still have that extra year. Seriously sucks that he loses an entire year for a handful of plays on special teams against ND and Texas Tech. Obviously coaches didn’t interpret this rule correctly. Gotta figure there is going to be an appeal on his behalf. Can’t hurt.

        • blaster1371

          Since he got zero meaningful snaps this season and given the lack of HS o-line recruitment the last few seasons not redshirting Darlington appears to be a poor decision. He did well enough in his lone start in 2012 against Baylor to think OU needed every year as a potential starter that they could out of his time at OU.

          So I’m with you on the idea that further appeals will be made.

  • Indy_sooner

    Yikes, that is a huge miss. The 9 snaps is a little deceptive, considering that they were spread out over multiple games. Truly bad situation for the young man

  • TheMind___Gap

    Why did they even play him at all? If this is true then the coaches really screwed the pooch on this one.

    • Jordan Esco

      I think that’s a question, w/ this news, many are wondering at the moment.

  • Sooner Ray

    It appears on the surface that the coaches really weren’t concerned about getting him a red shirt year. I would have thought it would have been a priority since the only other known center is now a senior. All we can hope now is that they have been grooming one or two of the younger O linemen who they think can play center. Would hate to go JUCO for a center while we try and recruit one. Anyone know if any of the Fr. or red shirts have center experience?

    • Shifty

      I believe Alvarez is a center..Nila can play center as well

      • Sooner Ray

        That’s good to hear. I have to believe that they see a lot of potential in someone. It just seems unlikely that they completely overlooked Ty’s position.

  • Rick

    I alway thought you found the most athletic, “smart” big guy on your roster, and made him your center. I know both Ikard and Darlington seem to fit that bill. I believe JY just fired a pretty good piece on that. Would it be safe to say the coaches have enough confidence in some of the others that they didnt care if he played or not? I don’t see the coaches making a monumental error, however the hacks at the Oklahoman often do. What am I missing?

    • http://www.TheFootballBrainiacs.com/ JY

      Nothing I don’t think. Two more years will allow us to redshirt Dalton, and have him be a third year sophomore when he takes over.

  • Jared Tyra

    That’s a strange rule that says those snaps must only be played in the first three games but not three total. I don’t see the difference it makes; I might understand if one of those games were a bowl/championship game (but it wasn’t… oh well, I guess).

  • akbuc

    Not concerned. Yes, it would have been better if he could have stuck around another year, but we still get him for two years. He’s a really smart kid (had offers from Stanford and the military academies) and he’s tough. That’s what I want in a center. My only concern is that he looks a little undersized. I’d like to see him with about another 15lb-25lb. Still, he played well enough in the limited snaps that he got, that I think he’ll be able to handle the load for the next few years. By that time, there will be a new kid, whom we may have never even heard of, ready to take the reins.

    • Sooner Ray

      Got any big boys in Alaska that can snap the ball?

  • http://twitter.com/mikeytyler08 @mikeytyler08

    Kinda pisses me off a bit. That will put us in a tough position for recruiting.

  • Matthew Hawkins

    Are you advocating the coaches lie and say he was injured to coverup their mistake? I can’t condone that behavior.