Saturday Football: Joe Burrow-Bengals drama, a new transfer rule and a Colorado update
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Good morning and happy Thursday! The college football offseason continues, but at least spring game dates are starting to be finalized, giving us something to look forward to as the month of February crawls along at a snail’s pace.
Fortunately, the offseason news cycle continues to be eventful. Plus, some of the top 2019 college players are heading to Indianapolis in a few days for the NFL Combine. So, let’s start this Thursday morning by discussing some of today’s top stories.
NCAA TRANSFER RULE
A one-time, penalty-free transfer rule is looking likely. Here’s the latest on the possible new rule.
To see how confusing the NCAA’s current transfer rules are, one only needs to look at a couple of players who transferred from Georgia following the 2018 season — QB Justin Fields and TE Luke Ford. Fields, who transferred to Ohio State after allegedly having racial slurs directed at him by fans, got to play for the Buckeyes right away, leading them to the College Football Playoff. Ford transferred to Illinois (another Big Ten school, for the record) to be closer to his ailing grandparents. He had to sit out the 2019 season.
Because of those situations and many others, it’s easy to see why fans, media members and conferences would like more concrete rules. Well, that could soon be happening, as a one-time, penalty-free transfer rule is quickly gaining a lot of momentum. Let’s take a look at what is going on with this new rule proposal:
- Momentum for this rule started recently with the Big Ten. The conference supported allowing players in all sports to transfer once without having to sit out a year. This week, the ACC issued a statement supporting the measure as well. Then, the NCAA also issued a statement announcing the formation of a Transfer Waiver Working Group to look into this issue.
- That could soon lead to the rule being passed across the NCAA. Michigan AD Warde Manuel, who was one of the first public supporters of the rule, said this is great news for athletes everywhere. “That’s great news, it really is,” Manuel said. “The idea is that everybody can transfer one time. The second time you transfer, there is no waiver. Everybody sits. There should be no waiver process. This gives everybody a chance to transfer once.”
- The SEC, up to this point, has not chimed in on the rule proposal. Should Greg Sankey, the commissioner of perhaps the most powerful conference in college sports, weigh in one way or the other? Saturday Down South’s Connor O’Gara says that, with the ACC and Big Ten supporting the rule, the SEC should come out in support of it, too. USA TODAY’s Dan Wolken says the NCAA deserves credit for potentially doing something right, for once.
For the record, the Big 12 and Pac-12 have yet to offer their support, either. However, this proposal is quickly gaining steam and it could be just a matter of time before it is implemented. How will it affect college sports? We may find out soon enough!
ESPN FPI EARLY 2020 TOP 10
The 2020 season is still several months away, but with spring practices quickly approaching, many analysts are starting to look ahead to this fall. This week, ESPN updated its Football Power Index (FPI) and ranked all 130 FBS squads for the upcoming season.
So, who made the cut for the top 10? As you can see below, a number of familiar teams are in the top 5, followed by some traditional powers later in the top 10 (via ESPN):
- Ohio State
- Penn State
- Texas A&M
- Notre Dame
Obviously, this could all change after we get a look at these supposed top teams this spring. Also, shout out to UMass, holding things down in the last (No. 130) spot. Can the Minutemen pull off some surprises this fall?
JOE BURROW-BENGALS DRAMA
Should Joe Burrow refuse to play for the Bengals? Everyone has an opinion about the likely No. 1 pick.
Joe Burrow is coming off perhaps the best season a college quarterback has ever had, going 15-0, winning a national title, winning the Heisman Trophy and throwing a record 60 touchdown passes. Now, he’s being projected as the likely No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, a pick which currently belongs to the Cincinnati Bengals.
In recent days, though, some drama has made its way into the media about what Burrow should do. Should he play for the Bengals or not if they draft him? Let’s take a look into what people are saying:
- We’ll give the first word to the man himself — former LSU QB Joe Burrow. In an interview over the weekend, Burrow didn’t exactly quell concerns that he could refuse to play for the Bengals. “Look, this is a long process, right?” Burrow said. “They have their process that they have to go through, so I’m just blessed to be in the position that I’m in. If they select me, they select me. I’m going to do everything in my power to be the best football player that I can be.” Not exactly a glowing endorsement of the Bengals.
- There is some precedent for not playing for the team that drafts you. Most recently, Eli Manning refused to play for the then-San Diego Chargers during the 2004 NFL Draft, leading to Eli going to the New York Giants and the Chargers landing Philip Rivers. Former No. 1 overall draft pick Steve Bartkowski said recently that he’s advised Burrow and his family not to play for Cincinnati, saying he should pull an Eli Manning. FOX Sports host Colin Cowherd agrees with Bartkowski on avoiding the Bengals, for the sake of his NFL career.
- However, not everyone thinks Burrow has that much leverage. Speaking on ESPN’s “Get Up,” former NFL executive Mike Tannenbaum sounded off on the idea that Burrow could refuse to go to Cincinnati. “He has zero leverage. This hasn’t happened since 2004 when Eli Manning orchestrated a trade from the Chargers to the Giants. He has zero, zero, zero leverage,” Tannenbaum said.
Still, The Ringer’s Danny Heifetz looked into all the ways it seems like Burrow is trying to break up with the Bengals already. More news involving Burrow and the Bengals is sure to come out of the NFL Combine at the end of the month. For now, it doesn’t seem like this story is going to go away any time soon and could drag on until the actual draft takes place in Las Vegas in April.
- There have been tons of coaching changes at the Power 5 level. Every year, numerous coaches move jobs, including some who go from one Power 5 school to another. But, in the past decade, the SEC has only had one coach poached by another Power 5 school. So, what sets the SEC apart? Saturday Down South’s Connor O’Gara broke down one stat that shows why the SEC sits alone atop the coaching mountain.
- There are a number of intriguing neutral site games in 2020. From matchups between top teams to games played abroad, the neutral site schedule for this coming season will be very interesting. Bleacher Report’s David Kenyon took a look at the best matchups from around the country to look forward to.
- In the 2017 Rose Bowl, Oklahoma made a questionable decision to punt. From there, the game went into overtime, where Georgia ultimately won. Banner Society’s Alex Kirshner wrote an article about how college football might have been different today if the Sooners had simply tried to gain two yards instead of kicking the ball away and playing for overtime.
- Penn State looks like it could be absolutely loaded in 2020. The Nittany Lions return a ton of offensive production and have a navigable road to the College Football Playoff. Saturday Tradition’s Dustin Schutte breaks down why this could be the year Penn State delivers on its promise.
Georgia and Clemson will kick off the 2021 season in Charlotte. What should we expect from these two powers?
This week, college football fans were given a treat, as Georgia and Clemson announced they’d agreed to play a game in Charlotte in 2021. As more details emerged, it was revealed that the game would kick off each team’s season on Sept. 4, 2021.
It’s good for the sport to see teams as prominent as the Bulldogs and Tigers taking each other on in nonconference play, and it seems top Power 5 teams are starting to become more willing to schedule other top Power 5 teams as part of their nonconference slates. Let’s take a look at some news about this blockbuster matchup coming in 2021:
- This game proved to be costly for Georgia, at least up front. Though playing Clemson in 2021 will likely be a lucrative endeavor for the Bulldogs, they’re down almost $2 million in the short-term. That’s because Georgia already had a full nonconference schedule for 2021 when it agreed to the Clemson game. Thus, the Bulldogs had to cancel a contract with San Jose State, which cost them a cool $1.8 million.
- Yes, 2021 is only two years away, but both teams will look different. For starters, both Clemson and Georgia will almost certainly be looking for new quarterbacks entering 2021. Chris Hummer of 247Sports broke down what the Tigers and Bulldogs could look like entering that matchup.
- This won’t be the only time these teams meet in the next 15 years. The 2021 game was added this week, but there are already five other matchups scheduled between Georgia and Clemson between now and 2033. There’s a game in Atlanta in 2024, a home-and-home series in 2029 and 2030 and a second home-and-home series in 2032 and 2033. This is about to become a bit of a rivalry, and it seems like it’ll be a great thing for college football.
When the original Clemson-Georgia games were scheduled, it was disappointing that we’d have to wait so long to see them face off for the first time in 2024. However, this 2021 game should be exciting, as both teams should still be national powerhouses. A lot can happen between now and then, but at the moment, it seems like this could be one of the most anticipated games of 2021.
JUST FOR FUN
With so many coaches constantly on the move, it can be difficult to keep tabs on who is running certain Power 5 programs. So, for today’s quiz, we’ll give you the name of five FBS schools and you tell us who the head coach currently is. Ready? Here we go:
- Oregon State
- Georgia Tech
- Louisiana Tech
- Texas Tech
Scroll down to see the answers to today’s quiz.
Colorado is still looking for a replacement for Mel Tucker. Where is the search going?
Mel Tucker left Colorado for Michigan State last week, putting the Buffaloes on the clock when it comes to looking for a new coach. As of Wednesday night, they still hadn’t made a hire, though several names are reportedly in the mix.
So, what’s the latest in Boulder and where is the Colorado coaching search trending? Let’s take a look at the latest news from the Pac-12:
- An interesting name has emerged in the search in recent days. That name is Bret Bielema, the former Wisconsin and Arkansas head coach who has recently been an assistant with the New England Patriots. He reportedly interviewed for the open position, leading to this hilarious tweet about Bielema being confused with Eric Bieniemy (a former Colorado star who is currently the Kansas City Chiefs’ OC):
- It’s safe to say Paul Finebaum wouldn’t be a fan of that decision. Recently, he ripped Bielema when his name came up in the Michigan State coaching search. “I think he was a disaster at Arkansas,” Finebaum said. “He was stubborn. He made countless mistakes. And putting him in that situation I think excites absolutely nobody.”
- Regardless of Finebaum’s thoughts, Bielema remains in the mix. Per a report from FootballScoop, there are two coaches being considered as finalists for the job — Bielema and current Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun. The report, which came out on Wednesday evening, said a decision could be made within 36 hours. So, we’ll see if some news breaks as you’re reading this newsletter. Denver Post writer Brian Howell still has seven names on his list of potential candidates.
If Colorado hires someone who is not a current FBS head coach, that will close the books on the head coach carousel for the 2020 offseason (theoretically). For now, though, this search is still ongoing, so it’s too soon to say with any clarity what will happen in Boulder.
Here are the coaches who currently run the five programs listed above:
- Oregon State — Jonathan Smith
- Georgia Tech — Geoff Collins
- Indiana — Tom Allen
- Louisiana Tech — Skip Holtz
- Texas Tech — Matt Wells
With how frequently coaches move around these days, will all of these guys be at the same schools this time next year? We’ll see when the 2020 coaching carousel starts spinning!
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I think that’s important no matter where your seat is … every program values their in-state or local recruits … I think it’s good in our case understanding of the in-state rivals with Washington and getting that Apple Cup to be a pretty exciting, important game for our team, team culture and our coaches.”
– New Washington State coach Nick Rolovich wants to make sure the Apple Cup is a big deal again. He even went as far as to install an Apple Cup countdown clock in the locker room. The Cougars have lost seven in a row to rival Washington.
TWEET OF THE DAY
Information continues to come out surrounding potential NCAA violations former Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio is alleged to have committed. The photo in the above tweet doesn’t do Dantonio any favors. Read up on what this photo means in this DetroitNews.com story.