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New Rules Limit Time at Practice

NCAA acted to protect players from heat-related illnesses, an official says. USC's Carroll says he has come to grips with changes.

August 06, 2003|Gary Klein | Times Staff Writer

USC begins practice today under new NCAA rules that change the way college football teams can prepare for the season.

Legislation passed during the spring limits the time players can be on the field each day and, in a move that several coaches called "revolutionary," forbids teams from conducting two-a-day practices on consecutive days.

Dennis Poppe, managing director of football and baseball for the NCAA, said the rules were instituted to protect players.

"It was done, expressly, to allow student-athletes to rehydrate and avoid heat-related illnesses," Poppe said.

Players must go through five days of acclimation before they can don full pads. During those five days -- the first two in helmets only -- players can practice for a total of three hours.

When two-a-day workouts begin, players are limited to five hours of total practice time. They also are required to receive a continuous three-hour break between practices that is devoid of football-related activity.

USC players reported for camp Tuesday. The team will be split for separate workouts for the first four days of practice. Most veterans will practice in the morning. Newcomers and some selected veterans will work out in the afternoon. The entire team practices together in full pads for the first time Sunday.

The Trojans will hold two full-squad workouts for the first time Monday.

USC Coach Pete Carroll said he initially resisted the rule changes because of his experience organizing camps. But he does not believe the new rules will hinder his team as it prepares for its Aug. 30 opener at Auburn.

"At first I didn't like the thought because I thought we had something going, but I've kind of embraced the new format," Carroll said.

Several players in the Pacific 10 Conference said they welcomed the change.

"It will probably save your legs a little bit," USC flanker Keary Colbert said. "You can recover more and be fresher."

Arizona State quarterback Andrew Walter said the rules will save arms as well.

"As a quarterback, that means I'm not getting 100 throws the next day [after two workouts]," he said. "I can rest my arm ... so it won't be hanging going into the season."

Oregon State linebacker Richard Seigler does not expect coaches to provide a surplus of free time.

"Just because they can't have you on the football field doesn't mean they're not going to have you," Seigler said. "So you might as well be out there practicing."

UCLA Coach Karl Dorrell, preparing for his first training camp, believes the intent of the new rules is sound.

"The bottom line is we're here for the kids," he said. "That's what we're trying to serve and I think in the long run it's going to be beneficial for them."

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