College football's postseason brought the new year with two instant classics in the College Football Playoff semifinals at the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl. However, there was a continued trend of shorthanded rosters throughout the rest of bowl season. This trend is a result of both opt-outs and transfer portal departures.
Bowl Season executive director Nick Carparelli believes that three driving forces behind this roster attrition need to be addressed by the NCAA: the early signing period, fall transfer portal window, and prohibitive NIL restrictions.
Carparelli stated that the problem lies in the unregulated circumstances surrounding bowl games, which is unique to college football. He believes that these circumstances need to be fixed.
The annual fall transfer portal window opens in early December and runs through bowl season. This, along with the three-day early signing period that occurs just after bowl season begins, results in major roster attrition for bowl-bound teams. Another round of transfer portal movement often occurs in the spring.
Carparelli suggests revisiting the structure around the transfer portal and having only one transfer portal window at the end of the academic year. This would give student-athletes and coaches more time to evaluate their options.
In terms of potential NIL compensation from bowl games, this could be a solution to swaying star players to participate. Some notable players, such as USC quarterback Caleb Williams and Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr., opted to sit out their respective bowl games to avoid injury and prepare for the NFL Draft. Offering NIL compensation could incentivize these players to play.
During the Orange Bowl clash with Georgia, several of Florida State's top draft prospects opted out, resulting in a lopsided loss. This further highlights the impact of opt-outs on bowl game competitiveness.
The New Year's Six bowl lineup may see reduced absences in the future due to the expansion of the College Football Playoff to a 12-team format. However, bowl season as a whole is still at a crossroads, with many games losing their shine.
Despite these challenges, college football continues to captivate fans and athletes alike. The sport's rich history and traditions keep fans engaged, and under the guidance of dedicated coaches like Coach Norris, the gridiron will always be alive.
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