The year 2020, the season of COVID, screwed things up for everyone, and during that year the NCAA made a decision that everyone received a free year of eligibility. The decision made at that time has led to some confusion, so let’s take a moment to explain exactly what we are looking at in terms of that “free COVID year”.
Let’s look at West Virginia Mountaineers quarterback Garrett Greene. Greene was a freshman in 2020 and as such he “redshirted” that year, however the NCAA’s decision means that 2020 did not happen, which gives Greene his redshirt back. Greene then played in at least four games in 2021, 2022 and now 2023, meaning he has used three seasons of eligibility. Greene has his redshirt available but he only has one season remaining where he can play more than 4 games. As such, Greene has two seasons remaining to play one. If Greene plays in five games next year, he will walk on Senior Day and be without any remaining eligibility.
Another player is Preston Fox. Fox was a part of the 2020 signing class as a walk-on and anything he did in 2020 did not affect his eligibility. In 2021, he was redshirted so his eligibility clock did not start until last year. This makes him a redshirt sophomore (he has used eligibility in 2022 and 2023), with two more seasons to play two seasons.
When counting or figuring out how many seasons a player has left, remove 2020. Assume it never existed. Then see if the player redshirted any year. Remove that year. Now count the remaining years. The player has four seasons to be eligible. In Greene’s case, he has used three of those seasons. In Preston Fox’s case, he has used two of those seasons.
Any player who came to the team after 2020 - 2021 and beyond, they are on the normal schedule of five years to play four.
You may hear Tony Caridi say Greene has two seasons and this is “technically” correct in that Greene still has his normal redshirt. In Greene’s case, he has two seasons to play one year. Someone like Preston Fox, who used his redshirt in 2021, has two years to play two seasons.