NCAA football should have permanent support for super seniors to help coaches

Theo Jackson is a Tennessee titan today, and he has his super senior season to thank.

Jackson, the former safety man for the Tennessee Vols, played a second senior season last fall after the NCAA determined that 2020 would not count against an athlete’s eligibility due to the pandemic. Jackson ended his college career with a bang and the Titans picked him up in the sixth round in April.

Throughout college football, the super senior year has been a win-win for players and coaches alike.

Super seniors didn’t count against a team’s 85 grantee limit last season, giving veterans another year to bolster their inventory and support their collegiate program without impacting the team’s grant count.

The NCAA should make this change permanent: grant a super senior year of eligibility without counting super seniors toward a team’s 85 scholarship limits.

Tennessee defenseman Theo Jackson (26) dances after a South Alabama false start during a football game against South Alabama at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee on Saturday November 20, 2021.

However, such a permanent postponement was not assumed. Instead, 2021 was a one-year grace period. Super seniors will count towards a team’s 85 scholarship limit starting this season. After athletes who played in 2020 retire, the super senior season will be phased out.

That’s a shame.

Making super seniors a permanent change would help combat the sport’s player attrition problem. If they were not counted towards a program’s overall scholarship limit, a coach would not have to choose between retaining super seniors or signing a full recruit class. He would be encouraged to do both.

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