Examining trade deadline buyers and sellers: SEC football edition
Several Major League Baseball teams made major acquisitions before the trade deadline last week, notably Boston snaring Cuban slugger Yoenis Cespedes from Oakland and Rays ace David Price landing in Detroit.
We know there’s no trading in college football, but the idea provides some awesome hypotheticals.
Instead of tanking after a 1-4 start by the first week of October, why not dump your starting quarterback while he still has some value for a couple wideouts and a linebacker? Maybe there’s an elite team, a game back in the division, with an area of need dangling expendable second-teamers as bait.
If trades were granted, which teams in the SEC would be buyers and who would dump talent as sellers in rebuilding mode?
SOUTH CAROLINA: Even as the preseason Eastern Division favorite, the Gamecocks need major help in the secondary with only one returning starter at the back end. Before relying on a couple unproven first-year players, could South Carolina coax Ole Miss into giving up sophomore hybrid Tony Conner in exchange for tailback Brandon Wilds and a player-to-be-named? The current back-up for Mike Davis, Wilds has proven to be an impact player when given the chance with three career 100-yard games. Utilized in Hugh Freeze’s offense as a weapon in the flats, the Rebels would improve in the backfield while being able to withstand Conner’s departure due to depth in a talent-rich secondary.
ALABAMA: It’s difficult to pinpoint a substantial weakness for the Crimson Tide, but acquiring a multi-year starter and proven all-conference player along the offensive line would help Nick Saban sleep better at night. Alabama could hand off some highly-recruited backups on defense to sweeten a 3-for-1 deal. Grabbing a star quarterback to play ahead of Jacob Coker and Blake Sims would be difficult unless Alabama was willing to part ways with all-purpose stud Christion Jones and second-best receiver DeAndrew White in a package deal.
AUBURN: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Gus Malzahn’s confident this year’s group has all it needs to win another SEC championship. He may negotiate, but only on defense. At the moment, Ellis Johnson’s handling the negotiations.
TEXAS A&M: If there’s a team with an impressive farm system, it’s Kevin Sumlin’s Aggies. Potential all-league freshmen Myles Garrett and Speedy Noil are the most coveted, but Texas A&M’s keeping those two to build around. In exchange for some defensive back help, a solid second-team quarterback may be on the market after the opener, depending on who wins the job under center between Kyle Allen and Kenny Hill.
MIZZOU: Maty Mauk’s market value’s never been higher, but the Tigers aren’t willing to deal their franchise player. He’s requested weapons on the outside to make up for the loss of Dorial Green-Beckham, so Mizzou has surprisingly made defensive standout Lucas Vincent available. The Aggies have offered third-best wideout and veteran Malcome Kennedy in return to bolster their front four and that deal appears to be done.
LSU: Though unproven, LSU still believes it can ‘win now’ with a bunch of newcomers and are keeping heralded first-year players Brandon Harris and Leonard Fournette under lock and key on the trade front. There’s expendable depth in the secondary and linebacker Kwon Alexander’s a diamond in the rough with a high upside. It would however take a sweet offer to land Alexander.
GEORGIA: Every team in college football wants Todd Gurley, but the Bulldogs haven’t made him available unless Keith Marshall returns to full strength and a nationally-ranked trading partner’s willing to let go of three starters in the secondary to compliment lone Georgia returner Damian Swann. No takers? The Bulldogs can absorb the inexperience and unleash TGIII elsewhere.
OLE MISS: The Rebels would love to grab Alabama third-string back Kenyan Drake as their starting ballcarrier, but even Saban’s not parting way with the on-again, off-again talent. He wants standout sophomore Laquon Treadwell in return which, if paired with Amari Cooper, would provide projected Crimson Tide quarterback Jacob Coker with no excuses for mediocre play. Hugh Freeze gawked at the notion of dealing Treadwell, perhaps the SEC’s top pass-catcher at season’s end this fall.
MISSISSIPPI ST.: Dan Mullen needs a player who can be a difference maker against ranked teams, a guy who can help the Bulldogs make the leap into the contender category. Dak Prescott, Jameon Lewis and Benardrick McKinney are three untouchables, but any other starter’s fair game if dealt for a gamechanger.
FLORIDA: Back to full strength on defense, Will Muschamp’s wishlist includes several wide receivers to help quarterback Jeff Driskel return to 2012 form, one by the name of Javess Blue at Kentucky. Blue was an instant impact JUCO transfer last season in Lexington and could put up a 1,000-yard season with the right numbers of targets with the Gators. Look what offensive coordinator Kurt Roper did for Conner Vernon at Duke, a wideout with a similar skill set.
KENTUCKY: There’s two players the Wildcats could dangle as potential All-Americans at bigger programs — defensive ends Bud Dupree and Za’Darius Smith. Two freaks off the edge with high trade value. Any multi-player swap would suffice because Kentucky needs depth in several areas.
ARKANSAS: Bret Bielema’s backfield is loaded, but quarterback continues to be a question mark. Arkansas is expecting Brandon Allen to be healthy and much improved during his second-year as a starter, but if it could use Alex Collins or Jonathan Williams as potential gamebreakers in a swap, they’d find some suitors. Bielema might be a general manager of the year candidate if he could swing a deal for Mizzou’s Mauk. The addition of Mauk may help Bielema clinch his first bowl berth as the Hogs head coach.
VANDERBILT: The Commodores need big names, proven players with an all-conference pedigree. Possibly in rebuilding mode following the loss of James Franklin and several talented players, Vanderbilt remains capable of a seven- or eight-win season based on its schedule; so, first-year coach Derek Mason may take his ball and go home with quiet confidence when talking trades.
TENNESSEE: Butch Jones has plenty of young studs on offense he could use to entice one of the elites, but what would the Volunteers receive in return? It would take at least a Top 3 player at any position to listen to offers for young studs like Marquez North and Jalen Hurd, but even that might not be enough.
What player would you like to see on your team?