I have heard a number people talk about the possibility of Tuel redshirting the remainder part of the season. I am bit frustrated by this because many fans don't get the rule so I thought I might as well enlighten everyone so we can put this to bed.
As a former NCAA compliance guy (interned at good ole Wazzu) I know a bit about this subject. Below are excerpts from the NCAA Div 1 Manual for your convenience in review.
First, to understand everyone gets 5 years to play 4 years in a sport. The 5-year clock starts clicking when you enroll full-time or compete for the team.
Second, the lingo. Redshirting is for those players who never get into regular or post season competition. Hardship waiver is for your medical injury cases. No such thing as a medical redshirt. You either played and got hurt and need a waiver, or you didn't play at all and can redshirt.
Third, some guys get a redshirt and a medical hardship waiver, thus 6 years to play 4. However, this is a bit more difficult to obtain. The NCAA is more likely to grant a hardship waiver when a guy hasn't redshirted and gets injured.
Bylaw 14.2.4 Hardship waiver. A student-athlete may be granted an additional year of competition by the conference or the Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement for reasons of “hardship.” Hardship is defined as an incapacity resulting from an injury or illness that has occurred under all of the following conditions:
(a) The incapacitating injury or illness occurs in one of the four seasons of intercollegiate competition at any two-year or four-year collegiate institutions…;
(b) The injury or illness occurs prior to the first competition of the second half of the playing season that concludes with the NCAA championship in that sport (see Bylaw 126.96.36.199.4) and results in incapacity to compete for the remainder of that playing season; and
(c) In team sports, the injury or illness occurs when the student-athlete has not participated in more than three contests or dates of competition (whichever is applicable to that sport) or 30 percent (whichever number is greater) of the institution’s scheduled or completed contests or dates of competition in his or her sport…
Based upon the above, no question that Tuel's injury meets (a) and (c), but if you read (b) closely his injury probably doesn't satisfy this prong. Sure the injury occurred in the first half of the season (duh), but the injury must result in preventing the player from competing the remainder of the season. That's the biggie! This one causes the biggest issue and is examined the most closely. The NCAA pours over medical documentation to determine whether the guy could come back. Now, the NCAA doesn't require you to play with a cast. For example, Galvin. He could have played with a cast. It would have been difficult to be a running back with a cast, but he could have played gunner on special teams with a cast. The NCAA wouldn't require you to play with a cast just because you might be able to. You are still injured, but obviously this issue gets really gray with turf toe, hamstrings, and one starts arguing that he couldn't have played that year.
So you see that even if Tuel's injury is 8 weeks in recovery, he won't get a medical hardship because he will be back with a couple games left in the season. Moreover, for those who are wondering if he came back in 5 or 6 weeks and re-injured his shoulder on the next play, see below.
188.8.131.52.5 Reinjury in Second Half of Season. A student-athlete who suffers an injury in the first half of the season that concludes with the NCAA championship... attempts to return to competition during the second half of that season and then is unable to participate further as a result of aggravating the original injury does not qualify for the hardship waiver