Explaining college football in the US can often be a confusing affair. How does the league system work? What are the options? What is the NCAA and how much difference are there between the divisions?
To shed some light on the whole thing, we've put together a few things that are sure to make you a little more knowledgeable about college football in the US.
Collegefodbold i USA.
College football in the US is different from the rest of the world.
In most countries, you have relegators every season depending on how many points are scored at the end of the season.
I Collegefodbold rykker holdene hverken op eller ned. De forbliver i samme division uanset hvordan sæsonen er gået for det givne hold.
There are many things that play into why the different teams/colleges are placed in the division they are. It could be the size of the university, financial strength or the amount of sports they offer in their program.
What is the NCAA?
NCAA (The National Collegiate Athletic Association) organizes football and other sports, across colleges and universities in the United States. They facilitate the largest and most well-known college tournament in the US which consists of over 1000 colleges and universities across 3 divisions.
NCAA Division 1
Division 1 is the highest ranked division in the United States where the biggest colleges in football compete against each other. The biggest teams play in front of home crowds of at least 1,500 and the record is about 22,000 spectators.
It is played in front of large crowds against and with the players who, in addition to meeting the academic requirements, are also the most immediately talented.
In Division 1 there is a strong focus on the athletic aspect of the individual player. Speed, physicality and attributes such as these are therefore highly valued by Division 1 coaches in College USA.
Here, the various colleges and universities recruit very actively both nationally and internationally and offer fulde Scholarships to those athletes and footballers who can prove their talent and academic level.
NCAA Division 2
Division 2 is the second highest ranked division in the United States where major colleges in football compete against each other.
There is also great competition and a high level of football, but there is a more balanced approach to sport and academics. There is a strong focus on the technical and cognitive aspect of a footballer, unlike Division 1 where the athletic aspect is very important.
Although NCAA Division 2 is ranked below Division 1 on paper, it is not necessarily because of the level of football.
The way it sports system is built in the United States, means that a given college and its position in, for example, Division 1, is not dictated by its sporting performance in the previous season, but by the financial strength, size and general provision of college sport by the college institution. It is therefore not at all unusual for Division 2 teams to be better than Division 1 teams and one should not be fooled by the numbers and the immediate ranking of the divisions.
I Division 2 rekrutterer de forskellige colleges også aktivt både i USA og udenfor deres landegrænser, men kan ikke tilbyde scholarships til ligeså mange atleter som division 1-colleges. Det er derfor ofte en større bedrift at få et godt Scholarship-tilbud fra et Division 2-college end et Division 1-college.
NCAA Division 3
Division III offers a much more well-rounded college experience in the United States where the academics take a greater focus than the athletics. These athletes or football players need to be able to juggle their time as the sporting is not catered for as much as in Division I and II. Here, the various colleges cannot offer sports scholarships. This makes the schools more expensive and the coaches have a hard time recruiting football players of the same caliber as the cost to the individual becomes too high. NSSA has never sent a player to Division 3.
What is NAIA?
NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) is also an organization that manages and facilitates soccer and other sports in the United States. The NAIA is the oldest tournament in the United States and has held annual tournaments at colleges in the United States since 1959. NAIA består primært af private, flotte og velfinansierede Colleges med solide faciliteter og et internationalt miljø. NAIA er den ældste turnering i USA og de forskellige Colleges rekrutterer aktivt hvert år.
Large numbers of scholarships are offered - more than at the NCAA - many of which go to students of various nationalities.
What is NJCAA?
NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) organizes and facilitates soccer and other sports at junior colleges in the United States. The Junior College program lasts 2 years and if you can prove yourself athletically and academically, you can then move on to a 4-year program like the NCAA or NAIA and take the final 2 years of upper school.
This is a great route for a young person who may not have had the academic level in the first place or for other reasons was not accepted into a 4-year college program. Sports scholarships are also offered.
Junior colleges cost less than public and private colleges, and they can also be more generous with academic and athletic scholarships. Coaches and recruiters from the NCAA or NAIA will also look towards the NJCAA when recruiting as it can prove that you are able to balance sports and education. As an example, 2 of our clients here at NSSA - Tobias Bak and Oliver Hald - both players had opportunities for scholarships at fine colleges in NCAA Division II. They both chose a different route and accepted scholarships from colleges in the NJCAA. After consistently good performances both in the classroom and on the soccer field, both Tobias and Oliver were able to accept scholarship offers from NCAA Division I colleges.
What is the best option for me?
While the majority start out with the idea that NCAA Division I is the ultimate goal, it ultimately comes down to what experience suits the individual and a clear answer to the question can rarely be given.
The most important thing is to find a college that suits you. If you do well, it is always possible to apply for a transfer to a higher level. This will always be an option if you have proven yourself during your stay and often larger scholarships are given to international students who have proven themselves at college in the US, as opposed to if they had played at club level in Europe.
The good news is that with 3 NCAA divisions, NAIA and NJCAA, are options for every student-athlete.
Vi i NSSA beskæftiger os med sport på College i USA og har specialiseret os i Sport Scholarships til fodboldspillere og andre atleter. Så hvis du spiller fodbold eller dyrker anden sport og syntes at uddannelse i USA lyder spændende, må du ikke tøve med at skrive til os!
Thank you for reading along!