Wasted Redshirts and Terrence Talbott

Submitted by jbibiza on April 4th, 2012 at 9:34 AM

EDIT:  Mr. Miggle below has pointed out that TT was only used in the first two games - I hadn't seen that = my bad.  In that case it is extremely likely that he and the coaches will apply for a redshirt for last year and it will almost definitely be granted assuming that an injury was the reason he was held out thereafter.  So hopefully a moot point about Talbott - but if the coaches do apply for his redshirt then it says that Hoke & Co. do not agree with the many opinions below that basically say:  play the guy in two games without regard to losing eligibility.


The emergence of Terrence Talbott as a viable option at CB raises the old question about why coaches uselessly burn redshirt years.  Talbott is a prime example because he is very young for his class (remember his older  DL brother was in the same class) so a year of extra growth would have been beneficial.  He was pressed into duty as a freshman due to the lack of DB bodies in  2010, but last year he was not needed so could have redshirted.  Instead he appeared in TWO games on special teams with no stats and thus a year of elegibility for a CB who now appears valuable was lost.

We have seen this happen many times, and as mere fans it always seems like a form of insanity.  The stock answers like " the kid worked so hard all year we wanted to reward him by getting him on the field" are lame in a case like Talbott's.  Somewhere beyond the land of coachspeak there must be a real answer to this question.  Wanna try this one Heiko?



April 4th, 2012 at 9:38 AM ^

Sometimes kids are not redshirted when it appears they should have been.  It makes me want to complain and bellyache.  Thank you for reinforcing the insight.


April 4th, 2012 at 9:39 AM ^

okay, neg away BUT...


Talbott was never going to be first team All B1G and he wasn't ever going to be someone we relied on heavily to be a contributor. He was a depth player and might get some starts this year. I think in a perfect world he's your third or fourth corner. I don't say that to be mean or disrespectful. I appreciate all these kids who do so much for our university and give their all for our football team. But sometimes a kid is 'just a guy' and whether he's here for four years or five doesn't make any difference. It doesn't seem incredibly likely that the 'light goes on' in year 5 because he was able to red shirt as a freshman or a sophmore. I'm sure the coaches respect and love him but I don't think he'd be the hardest guy in the world to replace with a new recruit in a couple years. 


April 4th, 2012 at 9:49 AM ^

Not going to neg you because I agree with you (except I don't think talent level should even enter the argument).  We all want every kid to be good enough to play from day one, then when they aren't that good we want them all to redshirt, and then come 5th year time if they are just a solid depth guy, even if they would be a contributor of some skill, we want them to leave without using up a scholarship for that 5th year that could go to some new HS phenom.

This whole rs or no rs argument is 20/20 hindsight and rarely are the people making the argument remembering the past as it was or projecting the fututre as it will be.  Talbott would be the subject of way too many "these fifth year guys shouldn't be back" posts.  especially considering the sheer number of CB that have been recruited lately. 

If a kid can play, no matter how much, let him play.  The rest will work itself out. IMO



sports fan

April 4th, 2012 at 9:43 AM ^

I never understand all the obsession with failure to redshirt, especially with Hoke and Co. doing the recruiting.  From this point forward there are always going to be capable players in the pipeline.  Let the young man graduate and get on with his life.

Mr. Yost

April 4th, 2012 at 9:50 AM ^

...these fans, bloggers, gamers play NCAA Football and see how beneficial a RS is and think it's real life. In the game, you always want to redshirt your players. You want to redshirt your 5* RB just because he'll be better the next year and you seemingly get 4 great years out of him if you talk him out of the draft a couple times.

It's just not reality. Some guys don't want to come from being "the man" on their HS teams to sitting a year. Others have no plans of being in college for 5 years. Some guys just have a goal of making the travel squad as a freshman, it's not about PT.

There are all sorts of factors. But you just can't realistically redshirt EVERYONE. In the video game I'll have the minimum of amount of guys I need to play a game. If I'm blowing someone out and I have to play WRs at DB or visa vera...oh well. I redshirt 99% of my true freshman.

But it's a video game. Video...Game.


April 4th, 2012 at 10:04 AM ^

Well said.  I also think the notion of redshirting non-freshmen is a product of the video game as well.  You very seldom see sophomores or other non-freshmen redshirt, and when you do, it's usually because of an injury or some other circumstance--not just because a coach decides he'd rather have the player in some future season rather than the one for which the player redshirts.  Of course, in a video game, there is no actual player who is affected by the decision.  But in real life, redshirting means asking a guy to sit on the bench for a whole season (because he isn't good enough right now) so that he can devote another entire year of his life to your football program later on.  That is a big awkward ask.

Red Berenson has always said he doesn't want players turning into "hockey bums," i.e., guys who spend forever bouncing around various low-level minor leagues hoping for a shot at the NHL that will never happen.  Football doesn't really have minor leagues--but by the same token, good football coaches may also feel like they should encourage players who aren't destined for the NFL to play their four years, get their degrees, and move on with their lives.

Litt1e Rhino

April 4th, 2012 at 9:47 AM ^

If he can't make an impact in 4 years why makes you think the 5th would be different. Burning the redshirt to see what he can do is fine with me. These coaches know what they are doing.


April 4th, 2012 at 2:44 PM ^

Players have to agree to a redshirt correct?

Do coaches identify players they want to redshirt and just ask?  Can players essentially be forced to redshirt?

If the player decides not to and doesn't want to do 5 years who is anyone to say that's wrong.  Even if it hurts the teams chances ultimately by not having a player have a good fifth year instead of doing nothing year one it's the kids life/education...

Looking for someone who knows more about how the process works!


April 4th, 2012 at 9:50 AM ^

I bet the OP and others like him will not miind Talbott leaving after 4 years if it means bringing in a 4-5 star player in his place during that recruiting cycle. I dont think many people are crying that Terrance Robinson isnt coming back because we all would like to see that scholarship go to a guy on NSD like Cravens, Mathis, Levenberry, or some one like them.


April 4th, 2012 at 12:22 PM ^

If a 5th year senior replaces one of the spots in the recruiting class, realistically he would replace your most marginal recruit, not one of your best recruits. Coaches like to hold a few spots open until the end, so in the event that they have one fewer scholarship to give they will take one fewer 3-star guy early in the process. In any case the 5th year senior will be gone the next year, so here is the tradeoff: play the guy as a true freshman and take a 3 star recruit 4 years later, or play him as a 5th year senior and take a 3 star recruit 5 years later.

IMO true freshmen should only play if they are needed. They shouldn't play in garbage time, and they shouldn't play on special teams except to kick, snap, hold, or return. Most true freshmen are poor players. Most 5th year seniors are pretty good. 


April 4th, 2012 at 2:31 PM ^

First, tell that to Texas and USC who seem to only sign 4 and 5 star players every year. The expectation is to get the best talent available that also fits the program and vision of the coaches.

Second, most teams put the best 11 players on the field, except when special teams are talked about. You can't afford to not play promising freshmen on squads like the kickoff team. Even with 85 scholarship players, a coach is going to be forced to have multiple speedster/solid tackler freshmen filling those slots. It is an area where talent can get on the field when they otherwise wouldn't have due to Xs and Os deficiencies. Young guys want to play and in most instances will fill those roles that the starters don't want to continue doing, ie kickoff and kick return non-specialists.

Bottom line - freshmen DBs, LBs, and WRs are going to be asked to fill those roles. Quarterbacks, on the other hand, are a completely different conversation, as are lineman to a lesser extent.


April 4th, 2012 at 4:45 PM ^

I'll eat a lemon if we ever get to the point where the recruiting class is 90% 4 stars or better.

I agree that you generally don't want to put starters on kickoff coverage, but in most circumstances teams should have veteran backup scholarship guys for those spots.


April 4th, 2012 at 9:49 AM ^

If a player works hard and you don't let him play, he might transfer to somewhere else where he can play.  Then you will have invested a redshirt year developing him for another program.


April 4th, 2012 at 9:50 AM ^

Your comment also seems to assume that the coaches know in advance that he is only going to be on special teams and play in two games.  Maybe the guy goes out and forces two fumbles in the first game and earns some more playing time.  It's easy to look back and say, "Oh, they should have redshirted him" when you know the outcome of the season.

Ron Utah

April 4th, 2012 at 9:52 AM ^

In almost all redshirt cases, players agree that the idea is best for them or even request the redshirt if they don't think they're going to get to play.  You really have no idea whether or not Talbott wanted to be redshirted.  If he had asked the coached to redshirt him so he could have an extra year of eligibility, don't you think they would have done it?


April 4th, 2012 at 9:56 AM ^

I think you're forgetting that Talbott got hurt and that's why his action was limited.

Remember that guy who pulled up with a hamstring injury as a punt gunner against Notre Dame (one of those plays where you thought WHY ISN'T THE NOTRE DAME GUY RETURNING THE BALL until we looked back at the end of the year and realized Kelly doesn't trust his players and that's why they had 4 punt return yards all year)?

That was Talbott. Maybe he'll get a fifth-year due to injury. Maybe not. Who cares about 2014 - at that point someone else will be here ready to play.


April 4th, 2012 at 9:58 AM ^

Still waiting to see an intelligent comment based on the facts.

Edit:  jg2112 has a point - but if he was injured that early he would automatically get a redshirt = moot point.


April 4th, 2012 at 10:31 AM ^

So you are waiting to see an intelligent comment based on facts....in a thread where you wildly speculate about a guy that didn't beat out a true freshmen last year, who you have no idea if he will be good and have no facts that point to a wasted redshirt year? Good post.


April 4th, 2012 at 10:31 AM ^

So the possibility that Terrence Talbott did not want to redshirt is not an intelligent point?  Not everyone wants to spend five years in college.  If he is on track to get his degree, and doesn't need or want that fifth year of academics, why on earth would he want to redshirt?  I don't think Coach Hoke would say, "Son, like it or not, you are going to redshirt." 

Football at the University of Michigan is not about me, or jbibiza, or any other MGoBloggers, it is about the 120 or so kids on the roster.  As followers/fans/alumni/etc. we tend to lose sight of that, and think we know what is best for the players and the program.  Guess what?  We don't.  If you interviewed Mr. Talbott and he told you he wanted to redshirt and Coach Hoke refused him that opportunity, then I stand corrected.  Until then, without knowing all the variables involved, everything in your original post is speculation and not, "...intelligent comment based on the facts."


April 4th, 2012 at 10:01 AM ^

With the way we're currently recruiting, I'm not too worried about anyone "wasting" a redshirt. This was only an issue to me during the RR years, when CBs were much better as prospects than they were when they actually saw the field.


April 4th, 2012 at 10:04 AM ^

You're acting like you're looking at the decision in hindsight.  In this case, you can't even call it hindsight yet. You're actually trying to predict the future.

Talbott may be showing signs of promise and may be able to contribute, but it will be several years before we can really look back on this and tell whether not having another year of Talbott was harmful. 

Mr Mxyzptlk

April 4th, 2012 at 10:08 AM ^

If you didn't like the coaches decision to not redshirt Talbott, get ready to be very dissappointed over the next few years.  I don't think Hoke & Staff can afford to RS many players.  The pressure is on to win and win now.  Perhaps in a few years when he's had four or more recruiting classes and plenty of depth he will have the luxury of RSing players?


April 4th, 2012 at 10:14 AM ^

Maybe he doesn't WANT to red-shirt.

What 2 games did he play?  Maybe he made a difference.  Take him off special teams and maybe the walk-on replacing him makes a mistake...and, given that we won several close games and 'game of inches'.... maybe one of those mistakes happens then.  Maybe it costs us ND, OSU or the Sugar Bowl.

It's impossible to know what impact he had, but last season worked out fabulously well and Talbott played a role in that, even if it was tiny.  No regrets.


April 4th, 2012 at 10:21 AM ^

I think people need to understand this is not about them it is about that team.  I agree that burning redshirts is often a waste, but that coaching staff has an obligation to that team to put the best players on that field to help that team win. 

Let's look at it this way.  Imagine you were a senior back in 1989 and you have busted your ass all year to get ready to make a run at a Big Ten and National Championship.  You know that there are some talented freshmen playing special teams that are making your special teams a great unit.   Right before the season Bo told the freshmen we don't want to waste your redshirt so you are off the kickoff coverage unit and we're replacing you with a couple of walk ons. This leads to some breakdowns and 2 Rocket Ismail touchdowns that cost Michigan the game and their NC hopes.   

Was it still the right call to you?  Maybe    Do you think the seniors thought it was the right call?   Doubt it.    Do you think the freshmen thought it was the right call?  Doubt it but maybe.

You don't know what will happen during a season and you need to have players ready.   Not having players ready that might have to contribute could cost you games.  Are you ready to potentially sacrifice a game to not burn a few redshirts.   I don't think I would see a thread started saying "yeah we lost today because we were forced to play some guys not capable of winning but it's ok we saved a couple of redshirts today we'll get Iowa next year."

Burning a 4th string qb's redshirt so he can play in a meaning less game would be stupid  because it's doubtful he'll be pressed into action, but the decisions are rarely that clear cut. 



April 4th, 2012 at 12:33 PM ^

I said earlier that true freshmen shouldn't play on special teams unless they kick, snap, hold, or return kicks. The example you just gave would be an exception to that, if you had a true freshman who was far better than the next best alternative on kick coverage. I think in practice it probably would not come to that, as there should be plenty of veteran backups who would be as good or nearly as good.

Ultimately it comes down to whether playing a true freshman improves the team's chances to win the game. If playing him improves the odds of winning from 50% to 51%, to me it's a no-brainer that he should play. If the odds go from 50% to 50.001%, then probably not. Chances are, having the guy around as a 5th year senior instead of having another marginal true freshman will improve the team's chance to win games that year by more than .001%.


April 4th, 2012 at 10:23 AM ^

generally speaking I do not see why redshirts are not utilized more... 

using Talbot's example:  in one hand you have a true freshman playing special teams for a couple of games, and in the other hand a fifth-year senior fully developed and trained, which one is ultimately more valuable to the team?

I guess it is because you want to have a bit quicker of a cycle, to bring in recruits?  Perhaps administration is putting the squeeze on due to the free tuition?  I don't know.  But to me it comes down to that simple concept noted above, true freshman on special teams, or vetted trained and developed fifth year senior...


April 4th, 2012 at 10:42 AM ^

You play the best guy on special teams, not the oldest guy. If TT was the guy the coaches wanted on the field, I'm glad he was.

I think some teams over redshirt. I only think guys should redshirt only when they cannot contribute at all. When you only have 85 scholarships, maybe 5 aren't filled by fall, 5-10 guys are injured, maybe 5 guys just haven't panned out, you're left with 65-70 layers. You need as many of those guys as possible and it just doesn't make sense to redshirt too many of them.

Also, on field reps on valuable. Giving a guy 20 special teams reps and 5-10 plays from scrimmage in a season is a big deal for him for the future. If Talbott didn't go in at all last year, he might not be as smooth right now as he is. Everyone wanted Rawls redshirted last year, but getting his feet wet last fall will help him when he sees the field this fall.


April 4th, 2012 at 11:00 AM ^

The more you red-shirt people, the fewer players enter your program.  The fewer players enter your program, the less likely you are to find superstars.  To compare all-or-nothing extremes, you  take 20% fewer recruits if you red-shirt everyone.

Of course, if a player doesn't pan out, you don't have to offer him a 5th year.

It can be debated either way, but there IS a cost to offering red-shirts because scholarships are a finite constraint.  Wisconsin takes the red-shirt everyone approach and they have small recruiting classes.  Other schools red-shirt few people and cycle through much larger classes.


April 4th, 2012 at 10:30 AM ^

Where do all the posters saying let the kids play stand on a guy like BWC then? How many people complain that RR wasted a year of BWC's eligibility by letting him play his freshman year?

Could anyone explain to me why their opinion differs from player to player on this issue?


April 4th, 2012 at 12:06 PM ^

If his work ethic was bad while not red-shirting, how bad do you think it would have been had he been red-shirting? If the guy just recently bench pressed 380ish , IIRC, how much do you think that first year benefited him had he red-shirted?

Seattle Maize

April 4th, 2012 at 12:11 PM ^

It differs because each case is different.  You should not just uniformly redshirt all freshmen because they are Freshmen.  Especially when you recruit like Michigan has been recruiting, there will always be talent to come in and replace those who graduate.  I am not that mad that Campbell didnt redshirt, more that he recieved terrible coaching until Hoke was hired.


April 4th, 2012 at 10:33 AM ^

Maybe they expected to play him more but then didnt get the opportunity.  Who is to say he wasn't second on the depth chart but just never got in the game?  Maybe his performance in practice got worse as the year went on, or didn't improve as much as his teammates so he would up buried on the depth chart.  Its terribly easy to look back and say it was wasted for 2 games of special teams appearances only when real life is much more complicated.

Not to mention, what makes you think that an extra year would be more valuable?  Maybe after 2 years he already hit his ceiling.   Being one year older does not automatically equal better

Mr Miggle

April 4th, 2012 at 10:42 AM ^

I'm sorry, but you're either being dishonest or inexcusably lazy. You say Talbott played in only two games, without mentioning that they were the first two. You question the coach's decision to play him rather than redshirt him. That would be valid if they decided to burn a potential redshirt by playing him a little in two late season games. Under the actual circumstances it's obvious they envisioned Talbott playing a bigger role than he ultimately did.

The interesting question is why Talbott didn't see the field again after playing in the first two games. If it was due to injury then he should get that redshirt.