COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 30 Capital One Orange Bowl - Georgia vs Florida State
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College football's postseason rang in the new year with two instant classics in the College Football Playoff semifinals at the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl. The rest of the slate saw a continued trend of shorthanded rosters, stemming from both opt-outs and transfer portal departures. Bowl Season executive director Nick Carparelli believes that may not change until the NCAA addresses what he believes are three driving forces behind that dilemma: The early signing period, fall transfer portal window and prohibitive NIL no-gos.

"The problem is not bowl games or the bowl system," Carparelli told Yahoo Sports. "The problem is all the unregulated circumstances around it now ... that doesn't occur in any other sport. That's what has to be fixed."

The annual fall transfer portal window opens in early December and runs through bowl season into early January, while the three-day early signing period occurs just after bowl season kicks off in mid-December. The frequent result is major roster attrition for bowl-bound teams just weeks ahead of their respective matchups, followed by another round of transfer portal movement in the spring. 

"We need to revisit the structure around the transfer portal," Carparelli added. "Maybe there should only be one transfer portal window that happens at the end of the academic year. Maybe it allows student-athletes to rethink things. ... [It] gives coaches an opportunity to get high school recruiting done, evaluate the roster in the spring, and people can make decisions based off of that."

As for potential NIL compensation from bowl games, it could be the solution to swaying star players who may otherwise skip bowl games either to avoid injury and/or prepare for the NFL Draft. Among the notables this bowl season were USC quarterback Caleb Williams (Holiday Bowl) and Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. (Cotton Bowl). Both are projected first-round picks in the 2024 NFL Draft and opted to sit out their respective contests. 

A number of Florida State's top draft prospects -- defensive end Jared Verse and wide receivers Johnny Wilson and Keon Coleman, among the most prominent names -- opted out of the Orange Bowl clash with Georgia. With more than 20 players from the regular-season roster absent due to opt-outs, transfers and injuries, the Seminoles suffered a 63-3 beatdown against the Bulldogs. It was the most lopsided loss in bowl season history, and it even prompted a mini-rant from Georgia coach Kirby Smart demanding that the trend be corrected.

The New Year's Six bowl lineup is likely to see diminished absences in the immediate future as all six bowl games will be part of an expanded 12-team CFP through at least the 2025 season, when the current CFP contract expires. Nonetheless, bowl season at large remains at a crossroads as many games have lost their shine.