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Overview of College Athletics

Introduction


As a parent, how do you ensure that you are taking all the right steps to help your child accomplish their goals within college athletics?
As an athlete, how do you ensure that your goal is the right one?
How do you make sure that all your hard work has the proper direction?
What is the success formula?
Well....the first step of that formula is, quite simply, having a strong understanding of the recruiting process.
And to understand the recruiting process, you must understand the layout of college athletics.
By understanding the layout of the space, understanding WHO you are competing against, and understanding HOW you are competing, you will gain an edge over your competition.

That edge will manifest itself in three ways:

You will save money.By understanding the process, you will have all the information you need to invest properly, in the things that matter. You will be able to avoid the companies that capitalize on families who want the best for their children but who are not quite certain what "the best is".
You will be efficient in your efforts.Not only saving money, you will invest your time properly. You will clearly know how to improve your recruiting outcome and waste your time doing nothing else.
The return on your investments will go far beyond the competition.The greater goal is success at the next level. While your competition frets about getting there, you will be focused on what you are going to do while you are there. Your returns will pay year after year.

So let's get to it...
When many high school athletes think college football, their thinking is limited to the schools with the most notoriety.

In reality, there is so much more opportunity than one might often thinks.

There are multiple divisions of college football. They differ in budget, level of play, and in their recruiting process, among other things.

The Layout of College Athletics

Click through the numbers below to get the basics of each division.

Division 1 - FBS

85 Scholarships per team20k - 110k Stadium Attendance1 in 100 Recruiting Selectivity130 Teams

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D1 - FBS

D1 - FCS

Division 2

Division 3

NAIA

Junior College

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Division 1 - Football Bowl Subdivision

OverviewWhile there is a large variability in the top FBS team and the bottom FBS team, these teams are the best of the best.
Every scholarship awarded to an athlete is a "Full Athletic Scholarship"
Participating in the division 1 means the athlete will have an extremely rigorous time schedule. Between practice, film study, weight training, conditioning, rehab and unofficial activities, the athlete can expect to commit 40+ hours per week to football alone.
Post-SeasonAt the end of the regular season, there are a number of "bowl games". Each bowl committee has specific criteria on teams they will select to play each other in their bowl game. At the end of "bowl season", there is a 4-team playoff to name a single National Champion.
RecruitingFBS schools have the largest recruiting budgets and the biggest schools recruit nationwide in search for the cream of the crop.
These schools purchase scouting data from services that are FREE to the athlete to support their recruiting efforts. They are extremely selective in their recruiting efforts and heavily base their recruiting boards on height, weight, speed and skill level.
Coaches at FBS programs receive messages from athletes all over the country who desire to play at their school. Emails and messages from athletes to coaches are most often left unreplied.

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Division 1 - Football Championship Subdivision

Overview
Slightly lower level of play than FBS on average; FCS teams still compete at a very high level. They differ from FCS teams in that they have 22 less scholarships to offer and their roster size is slightly limited. They can divide these scholarships into "partials" to divvy up among multiple athletes. They often pair the athletic aid with Federal/State financial aid to create full scholarships.

Every year, multiple FCS teams upset FBS teams in games.
Besides the scholarship and roster limit restrictions, these schools operate exactly like the big time programs. Between practice, film study, weight training, conditioning, rehab, and unofficial activities the athlete will spend more than 40 hours per week on football alone.
Post-Season
Unlike the FBS, there are no bowl games at the end of the regular season. Instead, the top teams participate in a 24-team playoff to name a single National Champion.

Recruiting
FCS schools have the smaller recruiting budgets than FBS and often only recruit in state or in their states neighboring states,

These schools purchase scouting data from services that are FREE to the athlete to support their recruiting efforts. They are slightly less selective than FBS schools in their recruits efforts but still heavily base their recruiting boards on height, weight, speed and skill level.

Coaches at FCS programs receive messages from athletes all over the country who desire to play at their school. Emails and messages from athletes to coaches are most often left unreplied, but may garner more attention than FBS.

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Division II

OverviewDivision 2 schools still have strong talent but have much less depth to that talent than Division 1 programs.  
Division 2 schools have less scholarships to offer around and also divvy them up in the form of "partials".
The time demands at a Division 2 program are a little better geared toward the athlete who is looking for a better academic, athletic, and social balance.
It is not entirely uncommon for Division 2 programs to defeat FCS programs when they play.
It is also a great option for a talented athlete to play at, show out, and then explore their transfer options to a higher division.
Post-SeasonAt the end of the regular season, there is a 28-team playoff bracket to name a single National Champion.
RecruitingDivision 2 recruiting budgets are smaller and more limiting than their division 1 counterparts, but there is a lot of variability in the range between top and bottom D2 schools.
Many of these schools still purchase scouting data from services that are FREE to the athlete to support their recruiting efforts. They are less selective in their recruiting efforts and are not so much as worried about size and speed as they are about skill.
The schools that do not purchase scouting data may use the databases of recruiting services that charge athletes to be a part of. However, these same schools will also be much more receptive to an athlete that reaches out to them via email or social media.

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Division III

Overview
Division 3 schools are the least competitive of the college football options. However, there are some perennial powerhouses at this level that consistently compete at a very high level.

The time demands at a Division 3 program are geared toward the athlete who is looking for a better academic, athletic, and social balance.

Division 3 schools do not offer scholarships and utilize academic and merit based scholarships to support their athletes.
Some of the top academic institutions in the country have football programs that compete at the Division 3 level.
If you are an athlete who puts heavy emphasis on academics, utilizing the football program to get you into some GREAT schools could be a great route for you.
Post-Season
At the end of the regular season, there is a 28-team playoff bracket to name a single National Champion.

Recruiting
Division 3 recruiting budgets are some of the smallest in the country.

They are less selective in their recruiting efforts and are not so much as worried about size and speed as they are about skill. They are also attracted to players who can play multiple positions for them if they are talented enough.

Many schools at this level do not purchase scouting data like the big schools do. They will often use the databases of recruiting services that charge athletes to be a part of.

However, these same schools will be very receptive to an athlete reaching out to them on their own.

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NAIA - National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics

OverviewNAIA offers athletes a unique opportunity to compete in college athletics other than in the NCAA. The competition level is most closely related to the NCAA Division 2 level.
NAIA has its own academic eligibility requirements, different from the NCAA's eligibility requirements.
NAIA programs can offer full scholarships but are also able to divvy them up into partials.
NAIA programs have the goal of "maximizing the return on athletics (ROAs). This means they intend on competing at as high of a level as possible while spending much less money as their NCAA equivalent. This is reflected by smaller staff sizes and all around budget.
NAIA student-athletes often enjoy a very healthy academic, social, and athletic balance of life.
Post-SeasonAt the end of the regular season, the top NAIA programs participate in a 16-team playoff to name a single National Champion.
RecruitingNAIA programs do not have to adhere to NCAA recruiting regulations like the other divisions. As a result, NAIA programs can recruit at will, communicating with athletes and offering scholarships as late in the recruiting process as they want.
Because of their ROA mentality, most NAIA programs do not purchase the scouting data like the big time programs do. Due to this, they are more open to the databases of recruiting services that charge athletes to be in.
However, these programs are very receptive to personal outreach efforts from athletes via social media and email.

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Junior College

OverviewJunior colleges can be broken into 4 distinct segments: NJCAA Div. I, NJCAA Div. II, NJCAA Div. III, and CCCAA.
Each division of the NJCAA has different regulations regarding scholarships. Division 1 schools can offer up to 85 full scholarships per team. Division 2 has 85 scholarships to offer but they cover everything other than room and board. Division 3 schools and CCCAA schools do not offer athletic scholarships.
Junior college is a great route for a player who has the talent but was not academically eligible to play at a university. It is also a way many athletes will increase their preparedness for the next level or attempt to increase the level of interest they garner out of high school.
Junior colleges have a tremendous amount of talent on their teams, but team culture can sometimes be an issue, as the schools are looked at as simply a stepping stone.
Post-SeasonBoth the CCCAA and the NJCAA have bowl games that allow their teams to qualify to play for the championship. The CCCAA is completely separate from the NJCAA.
RecruitingThere are regulations in place on how many out of state athletes a school can play at one given time. These schools are still happy to accept out of state athletes and, if they fall in NJCAA Div. 1 or 2, offer them money to attend their schools.
Certain schools are unofficial "feeder schools" to a small number of very high level FBS programs.

Takeaways


College football is tough. It is not for everyone.
However, we are firmly of the belief that, for the most part, if you WANT to play college ball, there is a college program that would love to have you.
But, you can't just want it. Your desire must be demonstrated by your actions.

By far, the determining factors that govern an athlete's placement are...

Desire
Grades
Football Skills
Height and Weight
Leadership


Notice how high school stats are not included in that list of determining factors. 
Coaches do not put much weight on high school stats and accolades....unless you put it on film.
Keep that list in mind at all times....it will help you as you evaluate you or your son's potential and it will guide you as you lead your efforts to get the ever elusive "exposure."

Timeline


We see people throwing the college coach timeline all the time, the recruiting timeline....even we present it on a different page.

In reality, understanding the coach's timeline will not effect your yearly routine.

With football, as in life, looking inward and owning one's own situation is the most prosperous way to move forward.

Here is the timeline that will make all the difference in your world.

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This will help you guide your plans, wherever you are in your career.
And if you want some assistance, we are here to help.