Wyoming v Boise State

Concern over losing top talent grows for non power conferences


The push for autonomy for the power conferences is about to leave its mark on the world of college football. The ability to provide more to student-athletes in the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC is likely to be a true line between the haves and the have-nots in the sport, and that is starting to have some schools left behind growing with concern over losing the top players from their respective programs.

One thing likely to change with new rules and regulations down the pipeline is the transfer rules. As suggested by the Associated Press, coaches may lose the power to limit where players transferring out will or will not be able to move. Coaches listing any number of schools a player may not transfer to has long been a problem. Afterall, if this is all about giving student-athletes the best chance to succeed academically and get the most out of college, why would a football coach be able to tell a kid he cannot go to State U. just because they are a conference rival or they happen to appear on the upcoming football schedule two years down the road? The good news is that power appears to be fading with new rules. The flip side of that though is now there may be opportunities for some of the top players in the American Athletic Conference, Conference USA, the MAC, Mountain West Conference and Sun Belt Conference may now have an opportunity to transfer to a power conference program, where the benefits to players will be significantly greater.

Programs like Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State and Oregon may not be the programs the likes of Boise State, Cincinnati and UCF may have to worry about, but now the attraction of playing for a program like California, Purdue or Kentucky may start to become more enticing with greater benefits to be made available. Need an example to work with? Sun Belt commissioner Karl Benson has one ready for you.

Per the Associated Press;

”The example that I used is Kellen Moore at Boise State,” Sun Belt Commissioner Karl Benson said of the former star quarterback. ”He came in as an un-recruited player and by the time he was into his junior year he showed he had some unbelievable talent.

”If the transfer rules are eliminated and there’s free movement, does that allow that type of a player to quote ‘go up’ without any type of sitting out?”

It’s a pretty fascinating scenario that needs to be discussed before any vote takes place. Moore continued to become a household name the longer he was at Boise State. Would he have been a missing part for any team at a power conference school that could have put them over the edge by the time he was a senior?

Conferences also must know exactly what they can and cannot do with extended powers. Fortunately, these conferences have been preparing for what to do with the extra powers granted through autonomy, but nobody really knows what details will come until a vote by the 65 member schools of the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC is held, and passed. Some around the country are still left wondering what will happen.

”I still haven’t gotten a good answer as to why transfer rules have been included in the autonomy bucket,” said SMU athletic director Rick Hart told the AP. ”I’m hopeful that will remain something that is voted upon by the entire membership.”

The new rules may not go into effect until 2015, but as it plays out every school will be looking to be prepared for whatever is coming our way.

Not everybody seems happy about USC’s hiring of Clay Helton

Clay Helton

If there is one thing that can be said about USC hiring Clay Helton as head coach on a permanent basis, it is that it provides stability for the program moving forward. Current players have responded well to Helton. Future Trojans players are responding well to Helton on the recruiting trail. Former USC players? Well, that’s a different situation.

We saw some of this at Miami in recent years with former Hurricanes ripping now former head coach Al Golden. That was a bit of a different situation with Golden being a coach that went against the grain of all that was perceived to be representative of The U. Helton is different because he has been loyal to the program as an assistant coach during a turbulent time. He at least deserves respect of those following and those who have played for USC for that alone. The problem is Helton lacks the kind of appeal most wearing USC lenses expect from their coaching hire and it seems more likely to believe athletics director Pat Haden settled for Helton instead of being able to expand the coaching search and bring in a high-quality coach for the job.

There is one way to swing the emotions the other way for those unhappy with the decision. If USC beats Stanford to win the Pac-12 championship this week, that would be one step in the right direction for the Helton haters and the Haden skeptics (myself included). The pressure will be on more next season regardless of what happens this week in the Pac-12 championship game and whatever bowl game USC ends up playing. USC will be loaded with talent and will be a trendy pick to make a run in the Pac-12 and, perhaps, even the College Football Playoff.

USC names Clay Helton permanent head coach

Clay Helton

The top coaching vacancy in college football has been filled. USC has announced it will remove the interim tag from Clay Helton and make him the permanent head coach moving forward.

Helton has gone 5-2 since taking over the program following the dismissal of Steve Sarkisian as head coach. The most recent win this weekend against UCLA both snapped a three-game losing streak to the crosstown rival Bruins and clinched USC’s first trip to the Pac-12 championship game as Pac-12 South Division champions. Helton has been with the USC program since 2010 under various assistant roles. He was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2013 and named interim head coach that season following the firing of Lane Kiffin. He stayed on the staff following the hiring of Sarkisian from Washington.

Helton had become a clear player favorite in the program, as Helton calmed a troublesome environment of uncertainty in the middle fo the season and delivered a division championship. The only losses under Helton came on the road against Notre Dame in Helton’s first game as interim head coach and more recently at Oregon, a program that revived itself as well. If nothing else, Helton’s being named the head coach provides for some stability for the program, although there should be some questions moving forward whether it will be the right move or not in the long term. The USC job was thought to be the top job on the market and worthy of some high-caliber candidates. There had been rumblings USC reached out to Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly, a former Oregon coach of course, but the odds Kelly was going to leave the Eagles on his own a year after getting general manager power were always low.

USC will continue to bring plenty of pressure to win, and win big. Helton will continue to guide a roster packed with talent and getting back to full strength after a stretch of sanctioned seasons. If Helton does not win, he will quickly enter the hot seat conversation.

USC plays Stanford for the Pac-12 championship this week.

Will Mark Richt coach again? “Oh yeah, no doubt”

Mark Richt

On Sunday the end of the line for Mark Richt at Georgia was finally reached. The Bulldogs and the head coach will go separate ways after a 15-season run in Athens, but this will not be the final stop for Richt as a head coach. On Monday, during a press conference with the media to address the coaching change, Richt was asked whether he will coach again.

“Oh yeah, no doubt,” Richt said in his response. “I’m going to listen to anybody that’s interested in talking to me,” Richt said when again asked about what’s next for the now former head coach of Georgia.

The press conference with Richt was a bit unusual for these types of settings. First, Richt continued to show his Georgia pride by wearing a black coat and red tie and had a Georgia pin on his coat. Second, he sat right next to Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity, who offered no insight whatsoever on what’s next for Georgia. When asked about the coaching search or the status for assistants, McGarity continued to shift the focus on Richt.

Richt expressed his enthusiasm for getting to coach one final game for Georgia. He will coach Georgia’s bowl game, wherever that may be, giving him one last chance to end a season with a bowl victory, which he has done nine times previously.

Kentucky QB Patrick Towles to transfer

Patrick Towles

Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles will transfer, he announced in an Instagram post Sunday afternoon.

Towles leaves school as Kentucky’s sixth-most prolific passer, completing 427-of-759 passes for 5,099 yards with 24 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.

Once compared to Ben Roethlisberger, Towles’ career peeked in a 2014 game with then-No. 1 Mississippi State, as he completed 24-of-43 passes for 390 yards with two touchdowns in a 45-31 loss to the Bulldogs.

But Kentucky stumbled down the stretch, starting 5-1 and finishing 5-7, and Towles stumbled through a 2015 campaign in which he threw nine touchdowns against 14 interceptions.

He’d been passed by freshman Drew Barker by the end of the season, and threw only four passes in a loss to Louisville on Saturday.

A junior, Towles will complete his political science degree in December and be eligible for immediate playing time at a new destination in 2016.