Having fixed every other problem with college athletics, the Pac-12 has proposed bringing back the freshman ineligibility rule for men's basketball as a response to the one and done phenomenon. At the moment, the discussion about applying such a rule to football is more muted, though we shouldn't expect it to remain so. We have a reputation for taking the side of athletes in matters like this - compensating players, eliminating transfer restrictions, changing the excessive celebration rule so you can actually get bonus points rather than a 15 yard penalty.
This time we're siding with the commissioners, because we think there's a real benefit in allowing 18 and 19 year olds a year to adjust to the changes that come with moving from high school to college. The maturation process you get in those first two semesters can be difficult, true, but think of how much more balanced and self-aware you are by the time you get to your junior or senior year.
College shouldn't just be about growing in the weight and film rooms. It should be about growing as a person, and a citizen of the world. Even the stars of the nation's most prominent high schools have no idea what it's like to be in the spotlight at a major college football program. How can we expect them to be prepared for that harsh glare when they're still learning who they are?
There's a reason we consider teams with upperclassmen leadership more likely to achieve great things than those with highly touted youth. The wisdom a person gains in those few short years may well be more than they'll get in the decade following. Where freshman are impetuous, unreliable, and childish, seniors are steady, meticulous, and sober.
It's not that we don't love seeing the Nick Chubbs and KD Cannon's of the world playing so well despite their relative youth and inexperience. It's that we care more about seeing them succeed long-term. Leaping into the end zone may be a great thrill, but it's nothing compared to the leap from boy to man.