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Nebraska Recruiting: Should NCAA Tweak Scholarship Rules Moving Forward?

January 26, 2021

Recruiting never stops and it’s easy to miss the top stories day-to-day. Recruiting analyst Greg Smith recaps all things Nebraska recruiting news, analysis and more so you never miss a thing.


The NCAA is notoriously reactive instead of proactive. There are a number of examples over the years of the organization dragging its feet on issues. Most of the time the issue gets pressed by other people. A perfect example of that is what is currently happening with Name, Image and Likeness. The NCAA should have gotten in front of the issue. Then it wouldn’t have to be brought before Congress, which is only creating more headaches.

Now the NCAA has a different growing issue. Player movement in college football has exploded. I am all for players being able to move freely between schools if they are unhappy. Coaches are able to do it with no penalty so I think that is fair for players. At the same time, there does need to be a change to help the schools. The portal is exploding with players looking for new homes currently.

As the portal booms, there is another short- and long-term roster management issue brewing. Teams have varying numbers of seniors deciding to return. That’s the short-term roster management issue. The long-term issue of scholarship limits appears to have been tweaked by the NCAA. Any seniors returning for the 2021-22 season will not count against the 85 limit. What happens if in a few years players are still electing to return for an extra senior season? Will those scholarship count against the 85-player limit?

Eligibility was frozen in 2020 for all players. What if players decide to use the bonus year in future years? In my opinion, their scholarship should not count towards the 85 number. Let’s say Adrian Martinez decides to return to quarterback the Huskers for a fifth season in 2022. His scholarship wouldn’t count against the 85 if they continue the rule in place for next season. It is unclear if the NCAA is continuing that rule.

There is another issue that needs to be addressed.

Reform is needed with the portal to protect schools. Something needs to be done. If you lose a player to the portal you could get spot back for your current recruiting class. Perhaps it shouldn’t be a straight one-for-one situation. That might encourage coaches to “process” under-performing players. It could be a ratio like for every one player you lose; a half spot becomes available. That way you’d need to lose two players to get one spot back. That would help Nebraska this cycle. The team y won’t have a problem taking 25 players this cycle. It won’t end up at 85 scholarships once the cycle is compete either.

Of course, there is a trickle-down effect on 2021 and 2022 recruits with all this. There are fewer spots for them in the wake of the changes that are occurring. Here is the guidance that the NCAA is giving recruits on the subject:

“2021 and 2022 recruits need to be realistic about the possibility of fewer scholarship opportunities and available roster spots. Recruits will need to re-evaluate their list of target schools to widen their college search geographically and consider programs across all division levels. This means student-athletes may find themselves at a school that wasn’t originally on their list.”

It is a confusing time in a lot of ways for recruits, their families and fans. The NCAA needs to be proactive and communicate well. That is the best way to help resolve the growing recruiting issues within the sport.

Recruit Watch

>> Thomas Fidone may be in Lincoln now but he’s not done picking up awards. He was named the Max Preps Iowa High School player of the year.

>> Major defensive target for 2022 Xavier Nwankpa was reoffered by Michigan.

>> Georgia 2022 tight end Tyrus Washington picked up an offer from the Huskers.

ICYMI

>> The latest episode of the Straight Up Breakdown podcast is here to explain why its usually best to bet on yourself.

>> Cayton and Haiby stole Illinois’ shot at an upset leading the Huskers to a 57-53 road win.

>> Quarterback Luke McCaffrey is set to transfer from Nebraska.

>> It was a busy portal day for Nebraska as Kade Warner and Will Farniok also announced they’ll be transferring.

>> Derek Peterson made it to quarterbacks in his Scoring the 2021 Huskers series.

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