Another idea whose time has come?

I’ve thought this for a while, but with the confluence of a couple of things — the likelihood that Judge Wilken is going to rule against the NCAA in the Alston case and the concentration of talent at the elite programs we saw evidenced again yesterday — I think Dan Wolken makes some sense when he argues there needs to be a change made in the interest of competitive balance.

In other words, the college football world order doesn’t seem to be changing much. If anything, the bluebloods are strengthening their grip on the best talent, and thus, the championships for the foreseeable future.

But the NCAA, if it had the willpower and the mandate from its masses, could start to create more parity with the snap of its fingers. All it would take is cutting scholarships down to 70.

I’m always a little leery when someone goes “all it would take”, because nothing in life is ever that easy, but I do think are some obvious consequences in shrinking D-1 roster size that would be beneficial.

  • At some level, the wealth would be spread.  Georgia and Alabama are in load up mode; even those last five signees every year are studs.  Go to a 70 overall/20 each year arrangement and those last five are going somewhere else.  And that will ripple down to some extent, as well.
  • If some of the root cause of transferring is driven by highly-touted kids who don’t pan out or are passed by other highly-touted kids, smaller rosters mean there’s less chance of those kids being blocked, because there will be less competition, or they’re not at the school being stuck in the first place.
  • Smaller football rosters means smaller football expenses, especially if we’re about to enter an age of compensation being set by the conferences.  (Who knows, maybe that will be an excuse to offer more scholarships to baseball players.)
  • There are also Title IX repercussions.  Dropping fifteen football scholarships might make the difference in a school’s decision to offer a new men’s program.

There’s probably more I’m not thinking of right now, but you get the gist of it.

Dan picked a limit of 70, because that’s the size of a travel roster these days, and I see the logic to that.  I wouldn’t have a problem dropping down to FCS levels, for that matter, which would increase the effect on savings and competitive balance.

If you’re worried about smaller rosters and injuries, there are options to address that, from liberalizing the redshirt rules even further for greater roster flexibility to even dropping a regular season game.

The devil’s in the details, I know, but I think there’s sufficient merit in the idea that it deserves some serious consideration.  I know the coaches would fight like hell against it, but if Alston doesn’t go the schools’ way, I wonder if that would take the debate up to a higher pay grade, so to speak.

Anyway, it’s worth a thought.


Filed under College Football

60 responses to “Another idea whose time has come?

  1. Russ

    So, do we drop UMass or Tech?


  2. Reverend Whitewall

    Miami would have an unfair advantage because Richt already has years of practice running with a 70 man roster. (Sorry, couldn’t resist!)

    Liked by 4 people

  3. bwaredogs

    Unless they required schools to put those scholarships into other sports, it would be hard to convince the public that eliminating a free education for around 2,000 students each year is a good thing.


    • Hogbody Spradlin

      Most colleges, good social justice warriors that they are, would find it easy to move those scholarships from those dreadful male brutes on the football roster to other needier sports.


      • illini84

        OOOOO, Social Justice, boogie boogie.


      • The other Doug

        Not really. Athletic Departments cut or under fund Olympic sports already. Title IX forces them to fund women’s sports, but men’s sports have been gutted. Schools can add more men and womens scholarships already, but they choose to do the bare minimum.

        I went to a presentation on college swimming last night. It’s ugly out there.


      • Ben

        Record time for a politically charged comment. Glad to see you’re ready for Christmas dinner already.


    • Brandon

      This is great, as soon as Georgia spends decades scratching, clawing, and fighting our way back to the top, the NCAA cuts our nuts off. This is sure to happen, just call it the Tennessee Re-Empowerment Act of 2019, Emmert and all the other suits can do photo ops with Lulu and Junior showcasing their good works.


      • playmakers in space

        This is exactly what I was thinking. We’ve finally made it almost to the top of the mountain… just in time to see everything come crumbling down.


  4. Hogbody Spradlin

    Off the wall, but if they’re gonna add more games through playoff expansion, that’d be more wear and tear on a 70 man roster. Although NFL teams are expected to get through at least 16 games on a 53 man roster plus a 10 man practice squad.


    • Russ

      Mentioned this below, but if roster reductions do lead to more parity, that parity will only increase the cry for expanding the playoffs. And they would have a point since it should mean more teams have a decent chance.


  5. The other Doug

    I think the best chance to create parity is making it easier to redshirt kids. UGA and Bama recruit kids that play immediately or leave, but MSU and UK can use redshirts to create a 2 year run. I’d allow teams to sign a certain number of players every year. Maybe 17? That way elite kids that leave early cost you a bit, but 5th year seniors are an advantage.


  6. kfoge

    Who doesn’t think Saban, Kirby and the other smart coaches wouldn’t find another way around it? Aaron Murray, your family is not hurting for money, you come on as a Preferred Walkon and then we use your scholarship on this 5* DB……Nakobe Dean, here is an academic scholarship ….we use your football scholarship on this 5* OL …..hey player X, we have a baseball scholarship for you since you are playing 2 sports, we will use your scholarship on this 5*DL……..and so on


    • The other Doug

      Or Aaron Murray transfers to a State of Georgia HS so he can get the HOPE money.


      • Tony Barnfart

        Man that family from Florida moved to Alabama and lives in a storage unit ?!?!?


      • The Dawg abides

        That’s the first thing I thought of. We’d have an advantage in walk-on quality because of Hope. I think it was Jay Jacobs that whined about our unfair Hope advantage a few years back. He even floated an idea for some kind of league restriction on the number of walk-ons on Hope. What a paranoid prick.


  7. The best players want to go to the best programs. That’s always going to be the case.

    If we think the sausage making sucks at 85, imagine what it’s going to be at 70 without radical changes to the transfer rules.


    • junkyardawg41

      I actually think the transfer ability of kids would have to go in the opposite direction. If you reduce scholarships down to 70, and increase the ability of athletes to transfer, the blue blood programs will start to follow the NFL model. Lower end P5 schools and G-5 schools would showcase the talent and the best players would be poached by the better schools. IMO, reducing the scholarships down to 75 AND increasing the ease to transfer equals a model close to what we have.


  8. Russ

    How much did the balance of power shift when the limit was put on at 85? Serious question, because I don’t remember it shifting that much.

    Was this was lead to the rise of the Boise’s and UCF’s of the world? Would lower scholarships lead to more parity? I guess I can see the logic, but I do wonder how it would all play out. If it ended the playoff expansion nonsense, I’d be all for it, but if it increases parity, then that will increase the call for more teams in the playoffs.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Mayor

    You mean taking away roughly twenty percent of scholarship opportunities for athletes in football systemwide—is that a good idea? Not only no but hell no!


  10. Biggen

    Why do we want to spread the wealth exactly? We may be entering a new phase of UGA football and we are talking about neutering scholarships?

    Color me not interested…


  11. Saved money on scholarships would probably wind up in the pockets of the Sabans, JImbos and Urbans of the college football world.


  12. PTC DAWG

    I don’t see the benefit.


  13. SEB Dawg

    So just when we have an almost fully functioning Death Star someone wants to slip the plans to the Rebellion? Dammit!


  14. SEB Dawg

    So just when we get an almost fully functioning Death Star, someone wants to give the advantage back to the Rebellion? Dammit man!


  15. Rchris

    Who wants parity? I want UGA to enjoy it’s period of dominance just as Princeton, Yale, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Miami, and Alabama have enjoyed. After that’s over with, and we’re down again, then I’ll yell and scream for parity. Until then, I want every advantage we can get.


  16. I personally would not mind that if they get a handle on this rapidly deteriorating transfer situation. We are heading toward the place where one player gets unhappy and 7 or 8 players leave or don’t come in the first place. That is not fair to the players that are left, the coaches or their families. I’ve always been all for legitimate hardships to transfer and even the graduate transfer. But the game in any enjoyable form won’t survive free agency.
    If the 70 scholarship limit were enacted and you had 6 or 7 leave that would be 10% of the team.


    • Go Dawgs!

      If the players aren’t being paid then schools have no right to restrict their right to transfer. They are students, and if a kid at UGA can transfer to Auburn because they’ve got a better chance of getting into Auburn’s vet school than Georgia’s then a kid deserves the right to transfer because he’s got a better shot of starting at tight end. Now if you’re paying them money and not just the scholarship, maybe we can talk about them owing the school something. But as it stands, the kids should have the right to go wherever they want to.

      Let’s face it, the only reason this worries you is that we’re a school that stockpiles talent now and we don’t want to see any of the talented players we’ve recruited to play elsewhere. That’s not a crisis. It’s a good problem to have. But it’s certainly not a national tragedy for an American to have the freedom to take advantage of their talents and ply their wares to their own maximum benefit. Isn’t that just the free market that we’re all supposed to bow down to?


      • That scholarship is money. If you don’t believe me ask the kid whose having to work their way through school or the parent that is shelling out thousands or tens of thousands of dollars to put their kid through school.


      • As for, “Let’s face it, the only reason this worries you is that we’re a school that stockpiles talent now and we don’t want to see any of the talented players we’ve recruited to play elsewhere.” That is completely untrue. You really should not try to speak for someone you have absolutely no knowledge of.
        I do not like it because I love the college game. Rivalries mean something. There is pride in saying your a graduate from ” whatever institution you want to name”
        . What kind of pride can a kid take in saying well I went to Auburn for a year then I went to UGA and wound up at FL State. You people that want to turn kids into Adults and college athletics into employment are, if you get your way, going to ruin the college game and everything it has stood for for over a hundred years for the kids, the schools and the fans.


    • 1 “free” transfer assuming academic eligibility and no behavior problems (ie, you can’t be eligible if you were kicked out of your previous school)

      Any subsequent transfers require a player to sit out a year, drop down a level or JUCO – no exceptions for hardship

      Graduate transfers have no restrictions, period

      Coaches have the ability to restrict non-graduate transfers from teams in their conference and on their schedule for the player’s remaining eligibility

      5 years of eligibility to play 5 seasons – end the redshirt

      No change to the number of scholarships available


  17. Go Dawgs!

    There are 130 D-1 football programs. 15 fewer scholarships at each one results in 1,950 fewer opportunities each year for athletes to earn free college educations while living their dream of playing Division I football (or at least being part of the team). All that to appease smaller schools who have trouble recruiting top-level talent to their schools.

    Count me out on this one.


  18. Ray Avret

    I have a better idea lets go to a 100 man roster. Play a 10 game regular season. A conference championship game. A sweet 16 tournament.
    The rich get richer.
    Divide the teams into 8 regional divisions. Every division champion gets an auto bid. 8 at large teams get in. (2) Teams play 15 games max if they were in the conference championship (4) teams play 13-14 games (8) teams play 12-13 games (16) teams play 11-12 games the rest the teams play a 10 game season……. The 15 sites for the playoffs and 8 sites for the conference championships take the place of the bowl game. Should be plenty of money to be spread amongst the sites most the bowl sponsor will still wish to be involved and just imagine the money that will roll in for the final 4.
    Division 1 teams that are not included in the 8 remaining conferences can become division 2 schools. 10 teams per conference is 100 division 1 teams currently there are about 130 teams so 30 will be making division 2 stronger
    just my opinion and thoughts…….The idea of cutting the rosters to be even smaller is sickening and a stupid thought o me


  19. Bright Idea

    Lets cut to 70 with no transfer restrictions and expand the playoffs to 16 and add 20 bowl games, (3 wins gets you in) so everybody is equal and happy. I bet none of those 15 lost scholarships would go to baseball. Man I wish this liberal thinking had been around when I was a teenager. I’d have been so much happier not having to earn any success.


  20. ASEF

    The NFL has parity. It sucks as a form of entertainment.

    “Competitive balance” just puts huge weight on randomness to distinguish otherwise indistinguishable participants. Take 5 players off Georgia, put them on UT, and then let SEC officials sort it out? No thank you.


  21. Will Trane

    The current roster is a good number.
    It is a safe number for roster management. That number allows flexibility, development, and safety.
    Cut that number to 70 in 2018 and the Dawgs would have had issues on their oline.
    Start reducing that number and watch happens to teams over a season. 12 games and conference play is a grind on young men.
    You want a quality game and entertainment best to leave the nuimber where it is.
    All this talk is misguided.
    There is nothing wrong with a 4 team play off and the current bowl set up.
    Teams and athletic departments across the board are doing well.
    Reduce that roster and wait to see how quickly game attendance drops.
    This is not about spreading the wealth.
    This is all about a few dissatisfied conferences not making the dance the past few years. They are looking for a bridge to get there.
    Face it Saban, Sweeney, and top notch coaches get to the dance because of one factor. They can coach.
    You are naive if you do not think Florida, Missouri, and Tennessee will not quickly challenge UGA in the East. Likewise in the West with A&M and LSU.
    Look at the basketball tournament. What a farce. There are usually about 32 legit teams.
    Keep the roster where it is and limit the number competing for a national title.
    That way every regular season game carries more importance to programs and fans.


  22. Former Fan

    The scholarship limits would have to be set by the conferences I would imagine. How could the NCAA make that decision across the board after losing another anti-trust case?


  23. playmakers in space

    Why is there no suggestion for “parity” in college basketball? Talk about imbalance of power. The UKs, Dukes, KUs, etc. of the world are always reeling in the best players.

    Also, fuck Dan Wolken.


  24. Sides

    I think it would be great for competition to cut scholarships. It would help prevent big money schools from stockpiling talent and disperse those players to other schools, increasing parity and likely improving the game.

    The only problem is you are advocating for players to get paid more while advocating for fewer players to get compensated. It is no guarantee that those 15 lost scholarships go to help anyone. I also doubt the rosters would be reduced (still need to have a practice squad) so all you are doing is reducing player compensation.


  25. Rocketdawg

    Sure…..let’s cut rosters down to 70 kids and expand the playoff to 8 teams (and eventually 16, 32 and so on). Less kids to play more games…..what a brilliant idea. Player safety my ass…..


  26. Dylan Dreyer's Booty

    Idle speculation that will never happen. Why? Let me cite Dan Wolken: “…But the NCAA, if it had the willpower and the mandate from its masses…”. Yep, and if a pig had wings, etc., etc.

    I rest my case.


    • Tony Barnfart

      If my aunt had a dick, she’d be my uncle.

      But seriously, it would be nice if Wolken defined the “masses”. Is it only the power schools, which I thought would at least be a voting minority enough to not credibly be called the “masses” [from whom a mandate is needed] ?

      Antitrust issues aside, perhaps he knows that you can’t squeeze blood from a turnip, so the only way he’s going to start his revolution is by having Florida agree to give up something so UCF can have it, who in turn is giving up something so FAU can have it, so forth and so on. All the while, nobody has ever answered why it is necessary “to the masses” (to borrow from Wolken) for the state of Florida to have 4 additional public universities competing in FBS football ? It couldn’t be because guys like Danny White have no other reason to justify a $600,000 per year salary, right ? #forthekids


  27. Spencd

    This reminds me of when Tiger crushed Augusta and they made it longer to “tiger-proof” it. All it did was play to his strengths.

    If rosters are 70, then Bama is gonna have an even higher percentage of its roster that’s made up of 5*s. They’ll be the IMG of college. The days of Bear recruiting 150 players are gone – kids wanna play and know depth charts.


  28. Rico

    All this idea will do is hurt kids. It reduces the total number of kids who get a college scholarship. Take away 1800 scholarships (15 from each of the 120 D-1 schools) with no guarantee that they will be replaced at lower level schools. On top of that, it does nothing to manage the NCAA revenue stream that you correctly point to as the biggest obstacle.


  29. There’s just too many teams. There’s no way to field 130 FBS teams with the best recruits. Coaches also


  30. Bigshot

    About the time UGA starts winning championships, they’ll call for parity.


  31. Just Chuck (The Other One)

    I noticed no one is talking about increasing admission requirements so you also get better students. Or, is this totally irrelevant to the discussion?