LARAMIE, Wyo. — Upon being hired as football coach at the University of Wyoming, Craig Bohl's first message to players and fans was that he wanted to return UW to a "Cowboy Tough" brand of football.
But that doesn't mean Bohl wants his players to beat each other up during the week — just the opposition on Saturdays.
On Monday, the NCAA recommended that football teams have no more than two contact practices per week during the season and no more than eight total during spring football. Bohl thinks that's more than enough contact to get a team prepared, even one that wants to hang its hat on being physical.
"Many times during the week of practice, we're real guarded in terms of the amount of contact that we do going into a game," Bohl said. "We want to make sure our players are set and ready to go.
"Now, there needs to be a balance. If you're going to put a student-athlete in the midst of competition, the young man needs to be prepared. The lion's share of colleges at the Division I level will operate below that line that was put in place."
The NCAA guidelines came from a safety and concussion summit earlier this year. Several college football conferences, including the Atlantic Coast Conference, Pac-12 and Ivy League, already have adopted the rule of cutting back on contact practices, which has been defined as any workout involving tackling or full-speed blocking.
The NCAA also suggested that schools have independent doctors evaluate head injuries and a "return to learn" process for integrating athletes back into their schoolwork after being diagnosed with a concussion, as well as getting back on the field.
Bohl, who sits on the American Football Coaches Association Board of Trustees, said the topic was a top priority during the group's convention this summer.
"Without question, we want to ensure football moves forward in a safe manner," Bohl told the Laramie Boomerang (http://bit.ly/1n8lvXb). "We looked at the information that was out there as a board, and then we looked at different models for practice.
"One of the conferences that had been more aggressive than anybody was the ACC. We fashioned a document that we felt comfortable with and forwarded that on the NCAA."
Bohl said the key to proper practice is teaching players the right way to do things.
"So much of what we're going to emphasize is fundamentals and making sure our guys are in the right place," he said. "We probably have more contact than what most teams do because of the style of football that we play on offense and defense. We can operate easily in spring football and the regular season with those limited number of contact days by properly teaching the fundamentals of the game."
Bohl said he believes coaches in all sports have the players' best interest in mind above all else.
"There's probably no one out there more concerned about the health of players than the coaches," Bohl said. "I think you'll find college coaches are for (the new changes), and athletic directors are for it. It's showing a proactive stance that we're taking.
"We're moving college football forward in a positive fashion."
Information from: Laramie Boomerang, http://www.laramieboomerang.com