College football coaches not all happy with NCAA Election Day rule

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There has been no better example of a professional stereotype come to life than four years ago when Alabama coach Nick Saban famously said the day after the 2016 election that he didn’t even realize it had happened. 

“We’re focused on other things here,” he said. 

Whether it was true, it’ll be impossible for Saban — or any coach — to say the same this year. That’s because the NCAA, picking up on an idea that started at Georgia Tech, decided last month to make it an official policy for all Division I athletes to have Election Day off. In other words, any coach who schedules a practice for next Tuesday would be violating NCAA rules. 

You might be surprised to learn that even amidst the protests against racial inequality and police brutality that many of their players participated in this summer, some college football coaches aren’t that keen on the disruption to their normal week.

College football practice fields will be quiet on Election Day, something that does not thrill all coaches. (Photo: Keith Srakocic, AP)

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In a lot of programs, Tuesdays are the most important practice day where much of the gameplan for the following week’s opponent gets introduced. Plus, a lot of coaches aren’t convinced the off day will serve much of a purpose, given that many of their players have to vote by out-of-state absentee ballot anyway or availed themselves of early voting. 

“We’ve worked very hard with our team so that anybody that wasn’t registered is now registered, and we’ve had our people administratively help them get their ballots, make sure they’re voting and have voted,” said Duke’s David Cutcliffe. “So I think it’s a little more showy, honestly — I’ll just say it like it is — than it has purpose.”

Cutcliffe is hardly alone. Clemson’s Dabo Swinney told reporters earlier this month he “didn’t really understand the day off thing” and wasn’t happy about having to move things around before a key game against Notre Dame. Louisville’s Scott Satterfield said the day off won’t help his players vote, since nearly all of them have already done it. 

“I understand the premise and the NCAA saying we’re going to focus on that. I get it,” Satterfield said. “But our guys have already handled their business with it.”

In a sense, you can understand where they’re coming from. Good coaches are generally task-oriented and don’t like to waste time, so if they’ve already done the necessary things to help their players vote, what’s the point of wasting a day on which they’re not going to actually be voting? 

But the counterargument for that is