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NCAA sees more conference realignment, student-athletes cashing in, and likely playoff expansion

USF Practice August 5.png
USF Practice 2 August 5.png
Posted at 2:29 PM, Aug 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-06 17:52:05-04

TAMPA — "First of all, no one knows, right?!" USF head football coach Jeff Scott joked when he was asked about conference realignment.

In the wake of Oklahoma and Texas' decision to leave the Big 12 for the SEC, the future of college football remains an ever-changing conversation. Without a commissioner, there's no single voice of leadership in the NCAA, but Scott says he just wants to improve the Bulls' position by improving the overall standing of his program.

"I just want to see our football team be a team on the rise," Scott said. "Because with the location, the area that we are, the history that we already have. If we can hit this at the right time, then we’re going to put ourselves in the best position possible."

The College Football Playoff appears to be headed toward a major overhaul. A decision could be made as soon as September that would expand the current playoff field from four teams to twelve. Last season, Cincinnati would've represented the AAC in a 12-team playoff. Playoff expansion means more opportunity for teams outside the Power 5 conferences.

"To know that you have a realistic opportunity, playing in the league that we play in, to get in," Scott added. "That’s a huge deal for our team and for our league."

The biggest deal for student-athletes is the chance to profit off NIL (name, image, and likeness). USF offensive lineman Demetris Harris welcomes the change, and he says athletes can use their platform to promote something other than the sport they play.

"A lot of people have talents they like to do besides just playing football," Harris said at AAC media day. "And I think name, image, and likeness, with that law being passed, I think people can really expand on those things they love to do outside of football."

Coach Scott said he hopes his players can embrace the new NIL changes and make it part of the team concept. Scott said the team's had meetings to discuss the legal aspects of NIL, and he's impressed with the players taking ownership of their new opportunity.

"One of our leaders stood up in that meeting and said 'The best way for us all to improve our brand is to win,'" Scott said. "If we win, everybody's brand in here comes up."

The Bulls open the season Thursday night, September 2, at North Carolina St.