Reaction to the passing of an amendment today in Texas to limit full-contact football practice to 90 minutes per week during the regular and post season was met with limited force.
Most see the University Interscholastic League measure as smart and innovative, one that might lead the country when it comes to finding more ways to push the sport and players toward safety and away from potential injury, especially head trauma and heat exhaustion.
If the amendment is approved by the Commissioner of Education — which is expected on Aug. 1 — it will become a rule four days before the season begins for teams that didn't participate in spring practice.
"For us, it is no change," Martin (Arlington, Texas)
coach Bob Wager said. "We work out in shorts and shoulder pads in season. We believe in being physical, but we've tried to do it in shorts and pads.
"I played the game from age 8 to 22 and practice has changed drastically since then. There are days I don't remember. I love the game and I think it is good we're trying to minimize the injuries.''
coach Joey McGuire said he was worried about the limitations when it was first broached by State Re. Eddie Lucio six months ago. When the amendment was unanimously recommended by the UIL's Medical Advisory Committee three months later, McGuire, who led his team to a state 5A title in 2006 and state finals in 2012, worried less.
"But when I heard D.W. Rutledge was in favor of it, a guy with so many state championships, I knew it had to be a good thing.," McGuire said.
Rutledge, who won four Class 5A state titles at Judson (Converse)
before retiring with a 197-32-5 record, is the executive director of the Texas High School Coaches Association.
McGuire said the 90-minute limit on full contact would not be a change for Cedar Hill.
"We never take our quarterback or running backs to the ground in practice,'' the coach said. "All of our contact work is on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday for us is a day for quick whistle and polish.''
That Texas is leading the way on safety measures is satisfying to McGuire.
"Football is so big in this state, we don't want to be behind the times,'' he said. "We want to be ahead on everything.''
Like many states — even other levels like the NFL — especially those battling heat issues, Texas has already implemented new practice rules over the last few seasons.
Teams are not allowed to conduct more than one practice on consecutive days and there must be a two-hour window between practices on days with multiple workouts.
All is in reaction to a growing trend of traumatic head injuries and heat-related deaths that have plagued the sport.
That is why the full contact restriction makes so much sense.
"If you're a smart coach, you're basically adhering to all this anyway to keep your kids healthy," La Marque
coach Mike Jackson told the Houston Chronicle
. "If you're trying to play a 16-game season plus two weeks of scrimmages plus another week, you look at the calendar and that's a long time to keep your kids healthy.
"If you're banging everyday, you wouldn't make it through a season."Longtime Texas journalist and MaxPreps correspondent Randy Jennings contributed to this report. E-mail MaxPreps senior writer Mitch Stephens at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @MitchMashMax.