The NCAA Division I Council voted Wednesday to implement a two-year waiver for programs to sign a larger number of recruits as well as remove the requirements for FBS conference championship games, allowing the conferences to decide themselves on how their teams will be eligible for the contest. The initiatives were rubber-stamped following recommendations from the Football Oversight Committee earlier this month.
The change in the initial scholarship counter is a significant development spurred by roster turnover during the transfer portal era. Previously, schools were limited to adding 25 initial scholarship players a year between high school recruits and transfers with some loopholes existing. However, in a time when it's not uncommon for a school to have 20 or more scholarship players entering the portal, the math can become complicated.
Kansas notably dug itself into a deep scholarship hole after Charlie Weis was fired in 2014. When David Beaty took over the program in 2015, the Jayhawks had just 28 scholarship players for spring practice instead of the allowed 85 scholarships.
While the NCAA would remove the restriction for a limited period of time, teams would still be capped at 85 scholarship players. However, it would clear the way for massive high school and transfer recruiting classes to fill spots during the two-year window.
Removing the restrictions for conference title games is not as controversial of a move. Previously, conferences with at least 12 members were required to decide football champions by splitting into divisions and hosting the winners of each division in a conference championship game. However, eliminating the requirement opens the door for different schedule structures.
Notably, the Big 12 -- with 10 members -- has played a round-robin schedule culminating with the top two teams playing in a conference championship game. Additionally, the ACC is exploring a 3-5-5 scheduling model that would feature three consistent common opponents and five opponents that rotate each year. The model would ensure every four-year athlete would play at every school in the conference.
The SEC notoriously has a divisional model with a permanent common opponent, meaning teams can go outrageous lengths of time without playing cross-divisional opponents. For example: Texas A&M entered the SEC in 2012 but has only played Georgia once over the course of a decade. With the SEC set to expand to 16 teams with the additions of Texas and Oklahoma, creating separate eight-team divisions makes little scheduling sense for a conference that plays just eight conference games.
The Pac-12, meanwhile, wasted no time in altering its championship game requirements. Within minutes of the announcement on Wednesday, the league announced that teams with the two highest conference winning percentages will square off for the title beginning in the 2022 season.