Complete Guide to 2022 College Football Offseason
Kirby Smart and his Georgia Bulldogs dethroned the Alabama Crimson Tide to become the national champions Monday, tying a bow on the 2021 season.
And now, we wait.
Barring a change to an earlier date—and we've seen it before—the 2022 season is scheduled to begin Saturday, Aug. 27. Throughout the next seven-plus months, though, college football will remain a preeminent focus in the news cycle.
Coaching changes. Transfers. Signing day. Spring practice. And the list, as you'll see momentarily, goes on and on.
If you're familiar with the offseason, consider this a refresher. If you're learning about the sport or trying to start—first of all, welcome!—this guide will serve as an introduction to a typical offseason and include important events and storylines to know.
NFL Draft Declarations
Several other topics are also important right now, but a deadline makes NFL draft declarations the most pressing issue.
Anyone who is three years removed from high school graduation can forgo his remaining eligibility in college and chase the professional dream. Over the last decade, the number of underclassmen heading to the NFL has steadily—and sharply—risen.
Because the NCAA didn't count the 2020 campaign as a season of eligibility, the exact total of underclassmen will be slightly skewed for several years. But the overall point is the same: We'll see a ton of young players head to the NFL. The finalized list will include well over 100 prospects.
For the 2022 draft, the deadline is Monday. The NFL will announce the official group Friday, Jan. 21.
Every day, players are entering the transfer portal—a centralized system that allows coaches from around the nation to see exactly who is looking to switch schools.
And, friends, it's a busy place.
Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated noted in early January that more than 1,400 players from the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) have entered the portal. That doesn't include Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), Division 2 and Division 3 players, which take the total beyond 3,000.
As of this writing—which is the single-most important qualifier when discussing the portal—top available transfers are Oklahoma quarterback Caleb Williams, USC QB Jaxson Dart and Oklahoma wide receiver Mario Williams. Notable players on the move include Ohio State QB Quinn Ewers to Texas, LSU corner Eli Ricks and Georgia Tech running back Jahmyr Gibbs to Alabama and TCU running back Zach Evans to Ole Miss.
Wake up tomorrow, and the portal will probably have new entries.
National Signing Day, Part 2
Because of the early signing period in mid-December, a strong majority of recruiting classes are nearly full. February used to feature the fax-machine (and PDF) frenzy for national letters of intent, but the traditional signing period is now when coaches put the final touches on the incoming group.
According to the 247Sports composite rankings, just 24 of the nation's 250 highest-ranked prospects are unsigned. Additionally, only 11 of those 24 haven't made a verbal commitment, either.
Still, several elite talents will be up for grabs for Feb. 2's signing day.
This year, a quartet of 5-stars in Harold Perkins (Texas A&M commit), Shemar Stewart, Devon Campbell and Josh Conerly Jr. remain unsigned. Their respective decisions will be watched closely, as most programs wrap up the 2022 cycle and new coaches do a bit of scrambling to complete their initial class.
Jimbo Fisher and Texas A&M hold the No. 1 overall class, followed by Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State and Texas.
Shortly after signing day, FBS programs will slowly begin returning to the field for spring practice.
The earliest teams will begin sometime in early or mid-February, though a majority of schools have a March starting date. The workouts typically lead to a spring game—or another form of glorified practice that the general public (usually) can attend.
While the exhibitions are mostly meaningless, the excitement of an updated depth chart—including former top recruits, early enrolling freshmen or transfers—attracts fans and media alike. It's a rare offseason chance to see these players in action and to monitor the early storylines for first-year coaches.
FBSchedules.com constantly updates the list of spring games and how to watch them, if available.
The reality is the transfer portal never completely stops. Spring practice certainly slows the number of entrants, but the action increases again following the March/April workouts.
Although the list of immediate-impact players is much smaller during this time, some excellent players pop up.
Last year, for example, Ohio State lost wideout Jameson Williams to Alabama in May. He emerged as one of the nation's most productive receivers in 2021, finishing the season with top-five rankings in yards (1,572) and touchdown catches (15).
All-American offensive lineman Cain Madden left Marshall and committed to Notre Dame in June, and Ole Miss linebacker Jacquez Jones bolted for Kentucky the same month.
Don't expect a massive group of well-known players to transfer in the summer. When the 2022 season is finished, though, we'll very likely be remembering a few critical May and June moves.
College Football Playoff Expansion Talks
Four teams? Eight? Twelve?
This conversation has adorned the offseason for several years, and it won't leave until expansion happens. Based on the latest news, though, the four-team College Football Playoff format will remain in effect through the contract's expiration after the 2025 campaign.
Before the national-title game between Georgia and Alabama, CFP leadership met in Indianapolis to potentially hammer out a deal. If that happened, the format would have been altered in time for the 2024 season. But the management committee "didn't even get close" to unanimity—which is required in order to change the CFP format.
So, again, we wait.
In all likelihood, the CFP will include more teams sometime in the near-ish future. There is way, way too much potential money at stake, and college football is ultimately a business. When exactly the expansion will occur, however, is entirely up for debate.
The Hype Machine
The winter, spring and early summer months are loaded with player movement. By July, rosters are effectively set.
Then, it's prediction season.
Position battles and key games. Records for every program, conference winners and the national champion. Star freshmen, breakout players and the Heisman Trophy winner. Preseason polls will be unveiled in July and August. And so much more.
This final stretch is basically an information overload. However, the predictions are a product of offseason research, a great source of accountability and—honestly—just plain fun.
B/R's college football crew will have updates, previews and frivolities to share throughout the offseason, but Saturday, Aug. 27, is circled in a permanent red marker on the calendar. Finally, it'll be time for a long-awaited kickoff.
Follow Bleacher Report writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.