Is there a perfect storm coming in roster management?

Sure sounds like there could be.

An unprecedented confluence of events — the bloated NCAA transfer portal, a blanket extra year granted because of COVID-19 and the expected one-time transfer rule — threatens scholarship opportunities for football players and will eventually undermine the ability for coaches to keep full rosters.

“We’re going to see a situation this year where there could be up to 1,000 players in the portal with nowhere to go,” said South Florida coach Jeff Scott.

How will that happen? As of Wednesday morning, there were more than 750 FBS football players in the NCAA transfer portal. That number is increasing by dozens each day, and will only get bigger with the end of the semester. The players are looking to take advantage of the NCAA’s one-time transfer rule, which is expected to be passed early next year.

But that giant number comes with a jarring reality that has some coaches startled. The NCAA’s ruling this summer to give all fall athletes staying at their school an extra year of eligibility is going to expand rosters past the 85-man roster limit for next season. That will limit places transfers can go. (As of now, there’s a one-year waiver to go beyond 85 in 2021.)

The seniors returning for an extra year are going to limit opportunities for younger players within the program, which will mean even more transferring. Also, the one-time transfer rule is expected to lead to a flurry of Group of Five transfers looking to upgrade to bigger schools.

The ramifications come in a year.

The scary part of a player going into the portal is that they essentially give up their scholarship at their current school once they enter, which means players could end up dropping levels or not playing at all because of lack of opportunity. Not all players fully understand that risk. Scott points out that while coaches can monitor the portal for players, players lack a real time dashboard of which schools have what amount of availability on their roster. There’s no available statistical indicator of how limited spots are, which leads to bad decisions.

What are the ripples of the roster logjam? One Group of Five head coach pointed out two potential reverberations. He said that the real roster issues are going to come in 2022, as the exemption to be over 85 scholarship players is expected to be gone, but a majority of the roster still has an extra year. That’s going to potentially limit the amount of high school players in the class of 2022.

“What 2022 looks like is crazy,” the Group of Five head coach said. “Now that you have to get under the 85 threshold, it’s a scramble. What can you bring in in 2022? That’s a problem.

It’s kinda like running up credit card debt when your creditor gives you a couple of months off from making payments.  Sooner or later, that bill is still going to come due.

There’s going to be a premium on coaches’ ability to manage their rosters.  Nick Saban invented the genre, so I doubt he’s sweating any bullets over this.  (He’s probably had a team of analysts sweating bullets over it for the past three months.)  Kirby Smart has learned from the master, so I expect Georgia to be prepared equally well.  In fact, this was the first thing that popped into my mind when I saw the final numbers on the size of the class he signed yesterday.

Flexibility is going to be king for the next two seasons.  Be prepared.


Filed under College Football, The NCAA, Transfers Are For Coaches.

25 responses to “Is there a perfect storm coming in roster management?

  1. RangerRuss

    There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza…

    Liked by 6 people

  2. Hogbody Spradlin

    Leave it to the NCAA to impulsively make the feel good gesture of granting the extra year of eligibility without thinking it through.

    Liked by 4 people

    • theorginaldawgabides

      Exactly. There should have been some sort of matrix on this. Like giving the extra year to players who’s teams didn’t play this year, or maybe less than 5 games. Also give it to any kid that opted out for covid.


  3. gastr1

    As usual, the real losers will be the players.

    But I have to say, I know college students follow trends of perceptions within their own bubbles, and entering the transfer portal looking for playing time is no doubt part of their bubble right now. Not saying their reasons aren’t legit…just that sometimes the reasons might not be thought out. I know, 18-20 year-olds, duh.

    Just hoping there’s some kind of resolution to this so a horde of players don’t get left totally high and dry.

    Liked by 1 person

    • godawgs1701

      Yeah, this scenario really leads to a lot of players being screwed. The answer is for the NCAA to extend the period where more than 85 players are allowed for the four or five years that the incoming class is eligible to be on campuses. Of course, that imagines that the NCAA will do the right thing, so… stay tuned I guess.

      Liked by 1 person

    • TEXBaller

      I love it! Better think long and hard before you hit the PORTAL button. Maybe running with the two’s ain’t so bad v. bagging groceries at the local Kroger.


    • James A Mercer Jr

      The way we depict 18-20 year olds….have you ever checked the statistics on the KIA in Vietnam?? You’d treat that age group with a little more respect.


  4. munsonlarryfkajim

    No doubt in my mind Kirby is saving plenty of spots for the portal and that we will be a net beneficiary. I don’t know how to deal with the 2022 issue but that’s pretty far down my list of concerns for Kirby and uga


    • W Cobb Dawg

      Dawgs are still a pretty young team overall. I assume we’ll be contributing more than our share to the portal, while continuing to pick off the cream of the crop to fill specific short term needs. Although we arguably lost the biggest gem to the portal during its existence in Fields, Kirby works the portal as well as anyone in cfb.


  5. TN Dawg

    Seems like a somewhat simple fix as far as the roster rule.

    Just pass a rule that says any senior exercising their COVID waiver does not count against a scholly limits for the next 4 years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • SlobberKnocker

      That makes sense so there is absolutely no chance the NCAA will put it in place.

      Another way to manage it would be to walk the total back over the next four years. Something like 110 (85+25) next year, then reduce by 8 or so each year. 110, 102, 96, 88, 85.

      Liked by 2 people

      • TN Dawg

        You could certainly do that.

        I would think you would want to make sure that an Alabama, for example, that might only really return 4 COVID seniors, doesn’t use the expanded roster limits to sign more recruits or accept more transfers.


        • Tony BarnFart

          Interesting discussion, because certainly the bonus year affects all current players, thus including players from the 2020 class all the way back to the 2016 class (i.e. 5th yr seniors can now get a 6th year). I think the smartest move would be to continue to classify underclassmen players by year as if nothing changed but only allow the excess to include players opting for their “2nd senior year”, all the way through the time 2020 enrollees would be in such position.

          My only question is how to treat a redshirted player. Does a player who redshirted this year get the redshirt back and how is that tracked out over the years ? Do you classify a freshman who redshirted in 2020 as a RS freshman in 2021 and allow him that extra year on the backend…..or could a guy who came in for 2020 redshirt again in 2021 and play all the way to…2026 ? I know that’s not a real concern for teams at the top of the food chain, but for G5 schools and kids bouncing through the portal needing as much time as possible for opportunity, it seems relevant.


  6. Ozam

    The NCAA promulgating ad hoc rules; What could go wrong….

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Anon

    NCAA should consider paring back to the 85? Basically an amortization schedule? Over 3 or 4 years? We kidding ourselves if we think these China Flu restrictions are going away anytime soon (years)


  8. Biggen

    Wouldn’t they just exempt all seniors going forward toward the 85 scholarship rule for the next 4 years? Seems like an easy fix.

    I’d like to think that even the NCAA figures this one out.


  9. Russ

    I think you’ll see a lot of mid majors suddenly getting some premier players. Which will lead to an increased call to expand the playoffs to 8. Which we will because $$$$.

    But yeah, I think you’ll see the Sunbelt/AAC/Conference USA/MAC suddenly get some good players.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. originaluglydawg

    For now, the Portal is a becoming a black hole. A lot of kids will go there and that’s it. Some will never play again. But for every one that’s selected out of the hole, some kid in HS gets hurt a little.
    It’s also a gift to coaches that wish to gently persuade a kid that hasn’t panned out to leave. It’s easier to point him to the portal than to the practice squad or worse.
    It’s akin to a poker game where you discard and draw cards. That’s how it’s going to work.
    The portal will (has) become a huge recruiting field, richer in talent than Cali or Texas.
    There will need to be new rules governing the recruitment of kids out of it.
    This is what you get when you have knee jerk, un-thought out solutions to a system that took decades to build. Change is needed, but this is Pandora’s Box.
    But it’s also a short term gift to poor recruiters like Mullens. Kids will be flattered to step out of the portal to play for a big program.
    As big programs fill out rosters with portal players, HS players will get fewer offers. Some will never play. Some will go to “lesser” programs than they might have. They’ll play a year or two, and if they think they can do better, some will enter the portal.
    The solution will be to find a place for players to exit. The NFL will benefit because there will be a huge influx of early draftees and it will become a buyers market. Maybe they’ll expand the league to soak up the talent.
    When leaving early begins to look less attractive, the average age and talent on college teams will increase and kids will be less inclined to risk the portal.
    Right now though, that extra year of eligibility is going to cause havoc.


  11. CB

    Am I wrong or would the roster expansion need to last 5 years in order level out on its own? 5 years being the max amount of time it takes a full class to make it through a program (sans multiple redshirt seasons).


  12. mp

    This is going to take care of itself quicker than we think. The resolution will be hundreds of players not having a spot anymore after going in the portal.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Kirby has definitely down the ability to manage a roster well so hopefully that trend continues.


  14. 69Dawg

    I don’t know all about the portal but if the kid enters the portal and stays in school does he automatically lose his scholarship? If the coach thinks the kid has potential can he hold his spot in hopes the kid comes back? Help a fellow out here.


    • Russ

      I think it’s the school’s decision on whether or not to keep a kid on scholarship if he’s in the portal. But I’ve been wrong before.