NCAA Football Competitive Balance and Pulling Scholarship Offers

David HedlindAnalyst IIJune 7, 2009

In years long ago, there was no such thing as a limit as to how many players a college football program could sign.

The NCAA slowly began placing such restrictions. Over the years, the numbers have changed and we now sit at the current 85 scholarship players per team and no more than 25 new scholarship players per year, but there is no rule that states how many players a school can sign including non-scholarship players.

Recently, the SEC joined the Big Ten as having their own conference set limitation on how many players each team will be allowed to sign.

In my opinion it is just a matter of time before either the other conferences follow or the NCAA steps up and makes such a requirement mandatory.

I have to wonder if there will be a rise in the number of scholarship offers that universities retract. Schools are going to offer more scholarships per position than what they will actually sign when they are trying to fill their needs. If they are only allowed to sign so many players those “backup plan” offers maybe retracted.

Here is what I mean.

Say a school has a senior and they are planning for the future so they go after five recruits. Two aggressively, two medium, and one they offer and keep in touch but don’t give the same attention as the others.

One of the two they went after aggressive commits to them the other somewhere else. One of the two medium also commits and the other two players are still undecided.

Now the program has two new commits but the coach feels a third will take a spot from another need for this years class. Are we now going to see the coach say, “Sorry but you took too long, we no longer have a spot for you.”

This happens from time to time already as it is, I just wonder how much more it could come up with a limitations in place.

One of the main reasons behind the new limitations are the signing of players that won’t be admitted due to failing to meet the academic requirements. Often times, those players would be placed in junior colleges where they could increase their skill as well as GPA in order to transfer down the road.

But what about those players after that limit that do meet those requirements? What happens to them?

They end up signing somewhere else.

We could see a trickle down effect. Those players who may not see the playing field at some programs could become starters at other. Gaining more experience and becoming better than they may have developed elsewhere.

Over the years it has also become evident that the playing field has steadily been becoming more competitive. The schools from the so called “Mid-Majors” have been beating the “major” programs at a more consistent rate.

Players that never would have though as much about signing with programs like East Carolina, Utah, and Boise State may take another look as their dream schools hit that signing mark.

These players were offered by the bigger more established schools. They may have been a casualty of too many players at their position for a big program.

Maybe they qualify for the NCAA but not those bigger schools who would have signed them before and placed them in junior college. If this is no longer an option they will look elsewhere for opportunities.