You hear it on ESPN almost every week. You read it on Blogs and in Magazines. It is one of the biggest misunderstandings in college sports, the Scholarship Offer ESPN, blogs and magazines report that top recruits were offered scholarships by these top schools and the top recruits verbally committed to a school in their junior year. LSU and Alabama just offered an 8th grader a scholarship. To me this is just ridiculous. Yes the 8th grader is a beast but who is to say he will still be a beast by the time he is a senior. He may not even want to play football or God forbid he injures his self. What do you think will happen to those scholarship offers if he gets injured between now through his senior year??? Yes you are right; there will be no scholarship offers, because they are NOT set in stone.
The truth of the matter is it is all fluff for the most part. The truth about scholarships and scholarship offers is there is nothing permanent or binding to this offer. Meaning until Signing Day these offers and verbal commitments really don’t mean anything until the recruit signs the letter of intent. The philosophy behind scholarship offering these days is to play a mental game on these young athletes. The school/football program wants to be the first to offer because; it’s something about the first offer that resonates with an athlete and their parents. Most parents and recruits want to show loyalty to the school/football program for being the first to see and acknowledge their talent or there child’s talent.
The process goes like this; a football program depending on what division they’re in (Div. 1A, Div. 1AA, or Div. 2) has a maximum number of total scholarships they are allowed to give each year. For example, Div 1A (FBS) football programs are allowed a maximum 85 scholarship players on a roster in an academic year. Each year scholarship players will graduate, transfer or quit, allowing the program to offer scholarships to high school student-athletes.
Now, here is where the misunderstanding arises for parents and recruits. For example, lets say a Div. 1A school has 20 scholarships available to offer. What most programs will do is offer 30-40 scholarships. Even though they only have 20. The coaches of the football program know they will lose some recruits to other schools and some of the recruits won’t make the grades or qualify to play. So in these cases their actual number of scholarship offers will dwindle down to about 25-30. So for the other 5-10 scholarships, they will tell the athlete they have decided to pull their scholarship offer and give it to the top recruit for that position. This is heartbreaking for a high school student-athlete and their parents. What is sad is that many do not know how this process works.
In most programs the process is as follows; the program will list the top 5 rated recruits they have for each position and offer all 5 of them scholarships. If the program gets the #1 rated player out of those 5 recruits, they will pull the remaining four from the other four recruits. Or if they lose the top #1 and #2 rated players and get #3 then, they will pull #4 and #5’s scholarship offers. This is how most athletic programs offer their scholarships. As I mentioned before, just because a player is offered a scholarship DOES NOT mean they are necessarily going to receive it. It’s a numbers game. It sucks for the #4 and #5 rated players on the list because it may be the only scholarship offer they’re receiving from a big school. The athlete is usually very excited about the offer and when they receive the bad news that they are no longer receiving the scholarship, it can put more stress on the recruit and their parents to find a school. It can be a very stressful time for the parents and the student-athlete.
It can also go the other way as well. Top recruits are getting offered by numerous schools and pretty much have their pick of what school they want to attend. They can verbally commit to a school but that DOES NOT mean it is set in stone they have to go there. They can change their mind at the last minute and pick a different school. Again these offers are not binding or permanent until signing day.
Case in point, in the class of 2013 there was a highly recruited linebacker from the South. He was offered by two very successful FBS schools. He verbally committed to one of the schools and went as far as getting a tattoo of the schools logo on his forearm. But, as signing day approached he changed his mind and signed with the other school. This is the type of situation that can hurt a football program. The coaches thought they had the linebacker due to his verbal commit and they probably pulled scholarships from the remaining top linebackers in that class. This can be detrimental to a program because now they have to go back and re-offer these players which probably signed with other schools because they initially pulled their scholarship offers from them. It’s all a game and you must know how to play it.
How to play the scholarship offer game?
DO YOUR RESEARCH!!! See how many scholarship players are currently on the team. Also it’s always important to ask how many other recruits the football program is offering scholarships to for the particular position you are being recruited for. Ask where you fall on their board. This will give you an indication on how interested they are in you.