Put me on record as a fan of redshirts. Any time you can give a collegiate athlete - who only has four precious years of eligibility - an extra year on campus, it is a positive. They have an extra year to develop, they don't have to take an excessive course load to graduate (especially if they were to change majors), and they get another year of the college experience. In sports it is especially beneficial, as there is a big difference between a 23 year old and an 18 year old. Medical redshirts are particularly nice, loosening the evil grip of the NCAA's arcane eligibility rules and giving players like Kevin Kooyman another chance.
So when do you burn a redshirt, and when do you avoid it? My feeling is if the player has an opportunity to make an impact this year, you burn it. Jeff Tuel, Reggie Moore, Xavier Thames, these are all guys that make the team better just by their presence on the court. One could argue they'd be even more valuable with another year of experience, but the majority of coaches find that "play 'em while you have 'em" is a good rule, especially with the number of players going pro early.
Still, I can't understand why players who would only see the floor in limited minutes - and, yes, I'm talking about Steven Bjornstad and Anthony Brown - aren't being redshirted. With Bjornstad it may be that we will actually need him. Bone's playing around with lineups so far this season tells me he's not set on a rotation and is even less clear on who else is going to be a fixture in the frontcourt with Casto. Motum, Lodwick, Watson, Koprivica... all are good options, but are all undersized at that position either because they are thin (Motum, Lodwick, Watson) or short (Koprivica).
With Brown, there's even more of a question mark. The depth at guard has been well documented, and with walk-on John Allen playing well, and Faisel Aden committing to play for the Cougs next year, it doesn't make sense to me that Brown's redshirt would be burnt. Some wonder if it's a situation similar to Nick Witherill, where there's so many players in line ahead of him for playing time that he can play this year, since he'll ultimately transfer anyway and burn a redshirt during the one year waiting period (although Witherill changed divisions so no need to sit out). We don't know if that's the case. No one outside of Ken Bone and his staff really knows.
In the meantime, I like Anthony Brown as a player and hope he stays at WSU. Most Pac-10 players aren't going to see significant playing time until they are upperclassmen, unless they are on a particularly young team or a particularly weak team. However, if Brown doesn't have a future in the rotation here, he probably should transfer. Since, again, you only have four precious years and as an athlete you have to make the most of them. Few go on to play in the NBA.
Still, it would be nice if Ken Bone and Paul Wulff didn't mortgage the future in the name of the present. I get that both teams are young. Rebuilding (one more than the other). Five years is better than four, especially at a school where you have to look harder for talent and get the most out of your players that you can. Cougar coaches need to understand that.
I hope they do.