Cue the usual suspects crowing over a victory for "fairness" in college football, the evil one himself has decided to begin offering four year scholarships:
On Feb. 18, the member institutions that comprise NCAA Division I voted narrowly not to rescind legislation that allows schools to offer multiyear scholarships instead of strictly offering renewable one-year scholarships. It was by the slimmest of margins, but multiyear scholarships survived.
That, in turn, led to dire predictions of a Tower of Babel situation, with every school making different offers to recruits in an impossible-to-decipher jumble of various terms and limits.
Nick Saban doesn't see that happening.
"We're going to offer four-year scholarships," Saban said. "Our whole conference is going to do it, all the schools, I think.
"And we're happy to do it."
Alabama was one of only four schools in the SEC to vote to rescind the decision to offer multi-year scholarships, citing the legal complications that such scholarships have prevented in the past. Although Saban was against the new offers, anyone who thought he wouldn't make use of them once the legislation was upheld is a fool. For a coach who's built his career around stocking his roster with as much blue chip talent as possible, the idea of Saban leaving any recruiting tool unused in the tool belt for no other reason than hard headed devotion to an ideal of "shouldn't" is ridiculous. What remains to be seen is what effect this will have on recruiting.
First, as Saban points out in the linked article, the "guaranteed" four year scholarship is essentially one in name only:
Saban said he has "no problem" with multiyear scholarships because "they aren't that big of a change."
"Most of the conditions are still the same," he says. "The player will still have to be academically eligible. He will still have to obey team rules and regulations. And the player is still going to have the same rights and the same appeals process that he has now."
Knowing the legal complications that resulted from multi-year scholarships in years past, these scholarship offers are likely bulletproof legal documents with the university/program's best interest at heart (and that goes for every school offering them, not just Alabama, unless said school is run by morons). It's a good PR move, but let's be blunt here, if the coaches want a kid gone, he'll be gone.
Second, the question remains as to whether or not all scholarship offers will be four year scholarship offers? This is the area where it will be most interesting to see how this effects recruiting. Five star sure thing studs like Julio Jones are worth the multi-year offer, sure, but what about the four star kid that the coaches have some questions about? Do you offer a multi-year guarantee to win him from another school only offering a one year renewable scholarship? Only time will tell how this is going to be used, but in practice, I genuinely don't see this being anything more than business as usual.