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Super Seniors Bonus Season Explained

The NCAA continues with their rash decision making.

John Belushi In ‘Animal House’
The Godfather of Super Seniors.
Photo by Universal/Getty Images

If you are like most folks, you are still wondering “what is the deal with super seniors?” You are not alone. Even coaches and administrators are still trying to figure this mess out.

The term “super senior” has been around for several years and was referred to anyone who has been attending an institution for more than four years or has over the usual number of credits required to graduate without achieving a bachelor’s degree.

For today’s purposes in college football, super seniors are defined as players who would have been out of eligibility after the 2020 season, but are taking advantage of the NCAA prematurely granting an extra year to all fall athletes because of what they assumed would be a cancelled season.

Super seniors will not count against a team’s 85-scholarship limit this coming season unless they transferred in from another program. This ruling might make one think “why not bring back everyone?” and some schools like Illinois seemingly are (17 returning). The issue is paying for the extra scholarships. They ain’t cheap. The expenses include room and board, classes, tutors, books, transportation, uniforms and equipment, training, guest tickets, and so much more. The Illini just played an eight game 2020 schedule before empty stadiums, and then paid for a head coach to go away while ponying up big bucks for a new one. Tacking on 17 extra scholarships onto the U of I tab for 2021 might just bankrupt the university.

The NCAA has yet to rule on when football programs will be required to return to the overall limit of 85 scholarship players. It was originally believed the NCAA would allow programs to go over the limit through the 2022 school year. However, now there is some talk of the coming season being the only one in which the exception will be made. Thus, there are no certainties beyond the 2021 campaign. The indecision and lack of information is certainly irking coaches across the country. Ah, the pitfalls of rash white-knighting.

Because of the costs involved, schools are under no obligation to bring a senior back for a bonus year. It is a totally irresponsible assumption on my part, but it would appear that a few of the eligible returnees for Alabama were not “invited” back.

The Associated Press reports that over 1,000 scholarship players in the FBS are expected to take advantage of the bonus season. Below are a few select schools and the number of the Blutarskys they are bringing back, according to the AP.


  • Alabama - 2 (Brian Robinson, Chris Owens; Charlie Scott is not on scholarship.)
  • Arkansas - 10
  • Auburn - 2
  • Florida - 5
  • Georgia - 3
  • Kentucky - 9
  • LSU - 6
  • Mississippi State - 5
  • Missouri - 12
  • Ole Miss - 10
  • South Carolina - 7
  • Tennessee - 11
  • Texas A&M - 7


  • Vanderbilt - 5


  • Michigan - 1
  • Ohio State - 5
  • Penn State - 3
  • Wisconsin - 7

BIG 12

  • Oklahoma - 9
  • Texas - 7

PAC 12

  • Oregon - 8
  • Stanford - 3
  • Southern Cal - 14


  • BYU - 1
  • Notre Dame - 2


  • Clemson - 6
  • Florida State - 10
  • Miami (FL) - 6
  • North Carolina - 5


  • South Alabama - 8
  • Troy - 13


  • Utah State - 19
  • FAU - 18
  • Illinois - 17


  • Army, Navy, and Air Force 0 - the service academies are not structured for such a thing.

(If you are curious about totals for other schools, leave a comment and I will respond.)


  • Arkansas - LB Drew Morgan
  • LSU - DL Andre Anthony, DL Glen Logan, DL Neil Farrell
  • Ole Miss - WR Dontario Drummond
  • Texas A&M - DL Jayden Peavy, DL Micheal Clemons.
  • Miami - QB D’Eriq King
  • Clemson - LB James Skalski, S Nolan Turner.
  • Indiana - WR Ty Fryfogle.
  • Ohio State - DT Haskell Garrett, OT Thayer Munford.
  • San Jose State - QB Nick Starkel
  • ULL - QB Levi Lewis