The 10 FBS conferences and Notre Dame have come up with a calendar proposal that includes new dead periods, off-campus recruiting of high school juniors, a shifted early signing date, and a more established recruitment framework.
Of course, the most important element is that officials must “further explore potentially making Week 0 fully permissive,” the calendar says. Under current regulations, teams need a waiver to play a game during “Week 0,” the weekend before the official start of the season. In addition, bowl games would begin operating on Saturdays in December one week earlier than usual. An athletic department’s nine-page calendar is being circulated for feedback and further consideration.
The document has not been submitted through the NCAA legislative process. Sports Illustrated obtained a copy of the document.
NCAA Football Oversight Committee
There are still a lot of hurdles left before the calendar is finalized, most notably a collaboration with officials on the NCAA Football Oversight Committee, who have been working on a separate recruiting calendar. Officials with knowledge of the discussions caution that changes to the 365-day calendar are likely.
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This year, 11 FBS games were played in Week 0
The most noteworthy aspect of the calendar—allowing all schools to open up Week 0—is not new, but it speaks to the serious nature of the plan. This year, 11 FBS games were played in Week 0, including Northwestern’s victory over Nebraska in Ireland. Waivers are typically granted for Hawaii-based teams because it is an incentive for schools to travel to such a remote place. If the waiver process is eliminated, teams may host recruits for home games played on Week 0, the calendar suggests.
Conference commissioners are trying to finalize details on an expanded College Football Playoff, something Sports Illustrated reported in a story last month, as Week 0 becomes Week 1.
NFL regular-season games
The current waiver process, in which teams can request an extra week off after the regular season begins, could be the first step in a process that eventually moves up a week the entire season.
This would free up a squeezed timeframe that includes conference championship games, NFL regular-season games (some played on Saturday), midyear exams, and graduation. A previous article examined six key issues with expanding the Playoffs (none more significant or difficult than the calendar) that can be found here.
Bowl games next season
Bowl games next season will be played one week earlier than this year. On December 16, the first bowl game of 2017 will be played. If a calendar were fashioned up in line with the proposals, bowls could begin on December 10, the date of the Army-Navy game every year. Moving bowls up provides a larger window for playing the 42 bowls and any playoff games.
At the heart of the calendar is recruiting. College coaches may now visit high school juniors off campus, one of the biggest changes in the calendar. Under current rules, coaches may not have contact with non-seniors off campus.
Officials are looking at whether to keep the current off-campus junior contact rule in the collaboration process with the NCAA Football Oversight Committee.
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Athletes may now transfer once during their careers and play immediately
In light of the high level of transfer activity, the proposal outlines adjustments to other recruiting periods and rules regarding player recruitment, among other things. Athletes may now transfer once during their careers and play immediately if they enter the transfer portal during two designated windows starting December 5 and running until May 1. The 45-day fall window begins December 5.
Other recent recruiting changes include:
- The document also describes “re-evaluating” the FBS rules-making process. Conference leaders want FBS officials to have greater power to modernize the college game through governance rules and playing rules, according to the text. The LEAD1 summit in Washington, D.C., last week, where athletic directors from roughly 100 FBS schools decided to keep the NCAA as the governing body of their athletics as long as they have greater policy-making powers, appears to have spurred this desire.
- Before the season, the ACC and commissioner Jim Phillips spearheaded an effort to overhaul the college football calendar. Each league selected a representative for a working group over the spring and summer.
- Working group members invited officials from 10 football leagues to Dallas in mid-August to review the calendar being distributed across college football, which is set to go into effect in November 2022 and expire in December 2022. Officials said the timeline on the calendar can be altered, although commissioners are expected to discuss the calendar in Chicago next week.
The working group then sends the relevant changes to the NCAA Football Oversight Committee for approval.