So, you’ve got a bunch of lazy coaches who can’t keep their roster numbers up to Alabama/Georgia levels because of the transfer portal… and their preferred solution to the problem is to change one of the few limits in place to keep Saban and Smart from running completely roughshod over recruiting.
Few guardrails promote parity in college football.
There’s no salary cap, no player draft, and admitting just 3% of FBS programs into the College Football Playoff each year makes it difficult for those outside the sport’s innermost circle to ascend.
Basically, two parameters promote any semblance of parity:
- Limiting rosters to 85 scholarship players
- The 25-player limit on signing classes, a figure that accounts for high school recruits plus transfers
Working together, those guardrails keep the best programs from acquiring an endless bounty of top talent.
However, college football decision-makers are considering tearing down the latter guardrail, a move that should help recruiting elites like Alabama, Georgia and increasingly Texas A&M stockpile a deeper volume of inbound talent.
Athlon Sports reported this week that the NCAA Division I Council is expected to vote later this month to eliminate the 25-player signing cap for at least the next two years. This change would not eliminate the overall limit of 85 scholarship players.
I mean, what could possibly go wrong?
Now envision a scenario in which the guardrail limiting a program’s amount of newcomers is removed.
What’s to stop Alabama from signing 30 of the top high school prospects and adding 10 of the best available transfers?
Texas A&M has been quiet in the transfer market and instead used most of its spots on high school recruits. Its 30-man signing class this year ranks as the top-rated in the history of the 247Sports Composite. The Aggies inked 27 five- or four-star prospects. Tear down the guardrails, and the Aggies may assemble 37 five- or four-star prospects.
But, if the elites add 40 of the best available newcomers every year instead of 25, won’t they exceed the overall limit of 85 scholarships?
The 25-player signing limit dissuades coaches from running older players off the roster. If that guardrail is removed, what’s to stop a coach from adding 40 newcomers per year, and then after a year in the system, retain the best 15 to 20 and run off the rest, allowing room to add another 40 newcomers without exceeding the 85 scholarship cap?
So, to review: Eliminating the 25-player signing cap would be designed to combat roster holes created by the increased rate of transfers and attrition. However, removing that signing cap limit further encourages transfers and attrition.
Nick Saban thanks you, fellow coaches.
I wrote “intended consequences” in the header, because we’ve already seen a partial trial run this year.
We received a sneak peak at what removing the 25-man guardrail will do, because this year, programs had been allowed to add up to 32 newcomers, as they adjust to the new transfer landscape.
So, Alabama signed a 25-man recruiting class that ranked No. 2 nationally. Then, the Tide grabbed five of the top available transfers, and it has room for a couple more.
These people will be back in three years, promoting a solution to fix the mess they just created.