College basketball introduced a rule this season allowing players to hire an agent, go through the combine process, but still return to school if they part ways with the agent before a pre-draft deadline.
College football has a similar problem with undrafted players, but Alabama coach Nick Saban isn’t completely on board with a similar rule, noting that there would be a lot of issues to address before allowing undrafted players to return to college.
“If we’re going to have this many people go out for the draft, that’s obviously a solution that some people should look at,” Saban said, via Creg Stephenson of AL.com. “If that were the case in football, how many guys would go out for the draft? You could kiss spring practice goodbye. You wouldn’t know what kind of team … or who would be on your team for the next year. How would you know how many guys you could recruit if you don’t know how many guys are coming back to the team? I think when you have smaller numbers (as in basketball), that’s a little easier to manage.”
Saban added his concerns about how some underclassmen would be drafted, but in later rounds, jeopardizing their future potential when they may have been better served waiting a year and being selected higher.
“When you have 140-some guys going out for the draft and 49 don’t get drafted, and a significant number get drafted in the last couple of rounds from that group, which means they probably won’t be on the squad in three years, you’ve got a lot of people with failed careers and no degrees,” Saban said. “And that’s not really a combination for them and their success in the future.”
There’s no good solution here, and the fix isn’t as easy as on the basketball side for the reasons Saban notes. It doesn’t sound like anything will change anytime soon, either.