Questions and Answers: How College Football Works

Why do universities award sports scholarships?

American universities are in close competition with each other. As college sports are very popular in the United States, attracting tens of thousands of people to the stadiums and millions of fans to watch television, sports programs are an important marketing tool for colleges. In addition, you can make a lot of money with it.

Universities employ full-time coaches who can award a certain number of scholarships to talented athletes.

The scholarships cover tuition, room, board and tuition and sports materials. As a rule, athletes can participate in NCAA League operations for four years before completing their bachelor’s degree.

What stages does a college athlete go through?

Athletes start as first-year students, advance to second place in year two, junior in year three and senior in year four. If a player does not make the final list, he is considered a red jersey.

That means: He can participate in the training, but the year does not count and the athlete can add a fifth year. Since 2018, a player has been allowed to participate in up to four matches despite the red jersey. An athlete may also be credited with a red jersey for injury reasons

Athletes can switch to professional sports before the end of the four years. The downside, however, is that most young athletes do not yet have an academic degree. If you want to do it later, you have to fund your study yourself. They can then no longer fall back on their old scholarship.

How Much Money Do You Make In College Sports?

In relation to the players, this question can be answered very easily: none at all. College athletes are amateurs and are not allowed to accept money. The College Sports Association NCAA punishes violations here with suspensions or expulsions.

The situation is different with the coaches, who often collect millions in salaries. As of the 2018 season, Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban was the highest-earning coach with an annual salary of approximately $ 8.3 million.

As such, it is not uncommon for NFL coaches to return to college. Saban coached the Miami Dolphins from 2005-2006. And Jim Harbaugh, who was the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers from 2011 to 2014, has been the head coach of the Michigan Wolverines since 2015.

Can players change college teams?

This is generally possible and was simplified in 2018 by the so-called “Notification of Transfer Model”. While players previously had to have permission from their universities to leave college, they now have the right to register in the national transfer database. The players can then be contacted by other universities and e.g. receive a scholarship offer.

However, this is not risk-free: Once the player is in the database, his former university can reassign the scholarship. So in the worst case, the player can not find a new college and the old scholarship is gone too.

What leagues are there in the college system?

The NCAA assigns universities to Collegiate Departments I, II, and III. Only colleges in the first two classifications can award sports scholarships. Typically, large universities are in Division I, while small universities are found in Division II or III.

Division I is again subdivided into Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS for short) and Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). FBS is considered the best American college football league.

This is again divided into ten different conferences. In addition, there are FBS Independents, such as Notre Dame Fighting Irish, which do not belong to any of the ten conferences, but primarily play games within the conference. At Notre Dame, it’s five games against ACC teams.

The focus of the public is the five major conferences, also known as the “Power Five”. It would be:

Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC): including Clemson Tigers, Florida State Seminoles, Louisville Cardinals and North Carolina Tar Heels

Big 12 Conference: including Texas Tech Red Raiders, Texas Longhorns, Oklahoma State Cowboys and Oklahoma Sooners

Big Ten Conference: including Michigan Wolverines, Iowa Hawkeyes, Penn State Nittany Lions and Ohio State Buckeyes

Pacific-12 Conference (PAC 12): including Arizona Wildcats, Oregon Ducks, UCLA Bruins and USC Trojans

Southeastern Conference (SEC): including Alabama Crimson Tide, Tennessee Volunteers, Georgia Bulldogs and Ole Miss Rebels

How are the game plans structured?

The universities make up the games among themselves. However, FBS prescribes that a certain number of games must be played within your own conference. Example PAC 12: Nine matches within the division are to be played here.

However, a regular college season includes 12 games plus goodbye week. The PAC 12 teams still have three games left. Here they can then meet teams from other divisions. Universities are relatively free in their choice. Some prefer strong opponents to get a lot of media and fan attention, others want to gain confidence against an easier opponent.

Which teams qualify for the playoffs?

With the different conferences, the different number of teams and the completely different game plans, it is not easy to decide the playoff teams in the end. Previously, this was determined using computer rankings and surveys of sports journalists and coaches.

Today, a panel of 13 people – consisting of former players, coaches and university sports presidents – selects the four best teams to compete in the two semifinals. Two of the six oldest and most traditional bowl games in college sports serve as semifinals in rotation: Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl, Cotton Bowl, Fiesta Bowl and Peach Bowl.

There are a total of 40 bowl games in college football. All the matches that do not function as semi-finals in the FBS championship are just prestigious friendly matches, which, however, create a lot of attention and are therefore very lucrative for the universities. Typically, a team must have won five matches or more to be eligible for a bowl game.

Oliver Jensen

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