They are called “initial counters.”
OK, let’s get the group “huh?” out of the way. That’s because most of us don’t have a clue what “initial counters” are.
The terminology refers to an NCAA rule, which limited football programs to the addition of 25 scholarship players per year. But, thanks to the onset of the transfer portal and the mayhem it has wreaked, on May 19 the NCAA waived the initial counters scholarship limit for two years.
So now what?
The only number major college football coaches have to be concerned about now is 85. That’s the maximum number of scholarship players a college can have.
That probably doesn’t sound like a very big deal, but guess what. It really is.
Just ask Marshall University head football coach Charles Huff.
“You can sign as many new guys as you want, as long as you’re at 85 scholarships,” explained Huff. “So, if you lose 30 guys in the transfer portal, the old rule would allow you to replace only 25 of them if you had initial counters.
“Now, you can sign or replace all 30. So, in theory, we could sign 85 new guys every year.”
Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that, but it does allow coaches a lot more flexibility in roster management. The elimination of initial counters also permits a coach to move guys who can’t play or who may have simply not panned out.
Now a coach can move them and replace them. In other words, it allows football coaches to have much greater flexibility than in the past.
Well, guess who is taking full advantage of that rule change. Both of West Virginia’s two NCAA Division I head coaches — Huff and WVU’s Neal Brown.
Huff recently signed five new players for the Thundering Herd. The list includes offensive linemen Cedrice Paillant (6-foot-4, 310-pound transfer from Rutgers) and Tim Lawson (6-6, 305 transfer from Louisville).
Then there’s safety Jadarius Green-McKnight (5-11, 204 from Florida State), Demarco Gibson (6-0, 175 from Alabama A&M) and tight end Stacey Marshall (6-5, 262) from Arizona.
That’s the door that opened, thanks to the elimination of initial counters.
As for WVU, it has been a godsend for Brown.
The Mountaineers reportedly have lost 19 players to the transfer portal. No one else in the Big 12 has lost that many players. But, again, thanks to the elimination of initial counters, Brown has been able to replace those casualties.
Since the end of spring practice, WVU has officially added five players. The list includes marquee quarterback J.T Daniels (6-3, 210) from Georgia, of course.
Then there’s safety Jasir Cox (6-2, 205) from North Dakota State, defensive lineman Mike Lockhart (6-4, 302) from Georgia Tech, linebacker Tirek Austin-Cave (6-1, 225) from Miami (Fla.) and cornerback Rashad Ajaye (5-10, 165) from Colorado State.
A couple of cornerbacks also appear to be on their way, but they haven’t signed officially.
Long story short, the elimination of initial counters has much more far-reaching ramifications than at first glance.
It was a very good move.