Alabama had veteran scout-team help as it prepared for last Saturday’s game against Louisiana State, with former Crimson Tide quarterback John Parker Wilson playing the role of Tigers quarterback Danny Etling and former Alabama running back Trent Richardson taking the role of LSU’s Leonard Fournette. And it seemed to have paid off: While yardage was hard to come by for both teams in the Crimson Tide’s 10-0 win, Etling completed just 11 of 24 passes for 92 yards with an interception, and Fournette had just 35 yards on 17 carries.
Such a practice is perfectly on the level, too.
“We try to stay on top of the rules,” Alabama Coach Nick Saban told AL.com in late October, after former Tide quarterback Blake Sims played the role of Texas A&M signal caller Trevor Knight. “We have people in our administration who do a good job of letting us know what we can and can’t do, and we would never do something like that unless we got it approved by the SEC office, which we did, and the NCAA.”
Saban and Alabama aren’t the only ones to do this: Former Cal running back Marshawn Lynch took on scout-team duties for the Golden Bears earlier this year. But one place you won’t see this happen is at Notre Dame, at least while Brian Kelly is coach:
Kelly may not like it, but here’s the NCAA’s stance, straight from the rule book:
“A former student at the certifying institution (e.g., former student-athlete) may participate in an organized practice session on an occasional basis, provided the institution does not publicize the participation of the former student at any time before the practice session.”
SB Nation’s Richard Johnson asked an unnamed NCAA compliance officer for further info about the practice. That person told him that the former players likely are not paid for their scout-team work and that they almost certainly signed a waiver that absolves Alabama of any blame in case of injury.