“What happened to 5 years to play 4 seasons?” JJ Watt raises serious questions over the persistent ‘age’ issues in college football

College football players are not supposed to play for more than 4 seasons in a period of 5 years.

“What happened to 5 years to play 4 seasons?” JJ Watt raises serious questions over the persistent ‘age’ issues in college football

JJ Watt (Image via Imago)

This year’s college football season has been wild. While fans have seen some elite plays from future NFL Draft prospects, there has been a rather unusual trend on the rise.

Older players are on the rise in CFB, partly because of the 2-year waiver that players received owing to COVID. JJ Watt, the former NFL defensive end, is not a fan of this at all.

JJ Watt expressed his frustration on X (formerly known as Twitter) wherein he put forth the question,

Has college football become a place where you can just play as many years as you want?

It is a valid question, especially after considering the fact that Bo Nix is 23 and his final season as a college football player was supposed to be last season. He has even received his degree from Auburn but came back to play this year.

There are other players who are far older than Nix, Matt Ganyard, is 34 years of age and is the father of two children. He earned his degree from the UVA Darden School of Business back in 2011 but after a brief hiatus during which he served in the U.S. Marines. After being discharged, he returned to the college.

JJ Watt has a problem with 7th and 8th-year seniors playing CFB

This year, Cam McCormick, tight end for the University of Miami applied to get a 9th year eligibility in 2024 with the ACC, he spent 7-years on the Oregon Ducks. Northern Illinois’ Kyle Pugh spent 8-years playing college football. It has become common for players to stay for longer than 5 years and play football despite being 7th and 8th-year seniors.

JJ Watt
JJ Watt (Via Facts.net)

Watt is infuriated with this trend because it is taking opportunities away from younger and talented players. Coaches in college football prioritize seniors and give them more opportunities.

There are young players coming up that are missing out on opportunities because we’ve got 7th and 8th year seniors...
JJ Watt on X

As a result, the newer players do not get enough exposure until their second or third year and this in turn will have a negative impact on their draft-readiness.

As per the NCAA’s rules, an athlete can play for four seasons with a five-year window. The five-year window begins the date a student enrolls and begins his coursework. There are situations wherein an exception is made.

After COVID, the rule was temporarily changed to six years. However, other exceptions include internships, studying abroad, military service/religious missions, and other circumstances beyond the individual’s control.

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