This is a great time of year around the sports world. Not only are spring football camps opening up and ongoing around the country, giving a fans a breath of fresh air and a preview of what is to come in the fall, but basketball is marching toward a national championship. You know, if you’re in to that sport with the round ball on the hard court. There is room for both sports of course, but please refrain from attempting to draw comparisons between the two.
One of the popular things football writers like to do this time of year is defend the sport of college football as the supreme sport over its basketball counterpart. This is unnecessary of course, as most of the targeted audiences for the sports tend to overlap enough to satisfy both cravings. Another gimmick is to come up with a field of 64 football teams and determine who would win a gridiron edition of the tournament. Heck, maybe that is someone out there chooses their winners in the office pool every year.
Wichita State completed a rare undefeated season on Sunday, assuring an unblemished record when they play their NCAA Tournament opener next week and essentially locking up a number one seed. Inspired by the remarkable feat, Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated wonders if a mid-major in college football could possibly qualify for the new College Football Playoff about to kick off in the upcoming season. The answer is rather simple: yes.
It certainly will not be easy, but the formula may not stray too far from what the traditional path to busting the BCS has been made up of in recent years. Go undefeated, win the conference championship and maybe score a notable victory or two along the way to open some eyes. With four spots open at the mercy of the selection committee, there will come a year when one of the schools not from a major conference could have that type of resume that is just too hard to ignore. It will not likely happen often, but it is certainly possible.
But why do we bother drawing comparisons between college basketball and college football when discussing the postseason? What is the point? Both college basketball and college football operate differently from top to bottom. This year football will finally operate a postseason under a somewhat similar philosophy with the four-team college football playoff, but basketball has 64 (68) spots open and every conference champion gets in no matter what. Every conference champion will get a spot in the basketball tournament. There is a hypothetic possibility only one conference champion could get a spot in the college football playoff. Until football has an expanded playoff structure with similar access to the basketball variety, there is no comparison between the two sports.
Comparing college football and college basketball is essentially along the lines of comparing apples to oranges.
Virginia Tech’s roster took a one-two personnel punch on Tuesday.
Last evening, wide receiver Eric Kumah announced on Twitter that he has “decided that [it’s] best for me to enter my name into the transfer portal.” A half-hour later, teammate and Hokies tight end Chris Cunningham announced via the same social media site that “I feel as though it is in my best interest to transfer from Virginia Tech.”
The fact that the players’ names are in the NCAA transfer database doesn’t guarantee a departure, although it is normally a sign that the player will ultimately move on to another program. With the names in the database, other schools can contact them without receiving permission from Tech. Conversely, Tech has the right to strip both players of their scholarships at the end of the current semester.
Both Kumah and Cunningham have already graduated from Tech and could use their final season of eligibility at another FBS program immediately in 2019. The former also has a redshirt year available to him.
This past season, Kumah’s 42 receptions, 559 receiving yards and seven receiving touchdowns were all second on the Hokies. He started 12 games in 2018 and 20 total during his time in Blacksburg.
Primarily a blocking tight end, Cunningham started a pair of games in 2018 and finished the season with 74 yards and two touchdowns on seven catches.
With Manny Diaz now in charge, Miami continues to collect players with Power Five and FBS experience.
The latest for the former additions is Chigozie Nnoruka, with the former UCLA defensive tackle announcing on Twitter late Tuesday night that he has transferred to Miami. The native of Nigeria will be coming to the Hurricanes as a graduate transfer — he’s expected to receive his degree in March — which means he can play immediately for Diaz’s squad in 2019.
The upcoming season will be the lineman’s final year of eligibility.
According to 247Sports.com, Nnoruka chose The U over an offer from Florida.
After beginning his collegiate career at a junior college and then playing in one game his first season with the Bruins, Nnoruka started 10 of the 12 games in which he played during the 2017 season. That year, his 8½ tackles for loss were tied for second on the team.
With Chip Kelly and a new defensive coaching staff on board, Nnoruka played in 11 games with no starts this past season. After 49 tackles the previous season, Nnoruka was credited with seven in 2018, none of which were for a loss.
In addition to Nnoruka, Miami has added safety Bubba Bolden from USC (HERE), running back Asa Martin from Auburn (HERE) and quarterback Tate Martell of Ohio State (HERE) from Power Five programs since mid-December. Additionally, Buffalo’s second-leading receiver, K.J. Osborn, tweeted his decision to transfer to UM earlier this month.
For the second time this offseason, a Koenning has been added to a new Power Five coaching staff. And, for the second time since taking over in Lawrence two months ago, Les Miles has hired an offensive coordinator.
Jan. 10, Troy announced that Chip Lindsey, hired by Miles as Kansas’ offensive coordinator the month before, would take over as the Sun Belt program’s head football coach and replace Neal Brown, who left to take the head job at West Virginia. Two weeks after Lindsay’s departure, KU confirmed Tuesday that Les Koenning will take over for Lindsey as the Jayhawks’ coordinator.
Koenning, whose cousin, Vic Koenning, was named as WVU’s defensive coordinator by Brown earlier this month, spent the 2018 season as the running backs coach at Southern Miss.
“We are so excited to add an offensive coordinator with the experience of Les Koenning,” said Miles in a statement. “He has proven to be an innovative offensive mind who has great success recruiting and developing offensive skill players, particularly at the quarterback position.”
Koenning has served as the coordinator at six stops at the FBS level — UAB (2016-17), Mississippi State (2009-13), Texas A&M (2003-07), Alabama (2001-02), Houston (1999) and Duke (1998).
You can add yet another name to the burgeoning free-agent quarterback pool.
Tuesday night, Nick Starkel used a tweet to announce that he has decided to transfer from Texas A&M and “will explore finishing my final two years of eligibility at another program.” Starkel will graduate from A&M this June, which would make him eligible to use the first of those two years of eligibility immediately in 2019.
Starkel was the Aggies’ starter to open the 2017 season, but suffered a broken ankle in that game that sidelined him for nearly two months. It turned out to not be a season-ending injury as Starkel returned to start the last four games of Kevin Sumlin‘s final season in College Station, a late-season stint that included a career-high 499-yard effort in a Belk Bowl loss to Wake Forest.
Entering the 2018 offseason as the incumbent, but with a new head coach in Jimbo Fisher in place, Starkel lost the starting job to Kellen Mond and played in just five games this past season — the first four of 2018 plus the bowl game. In those appearances, the redshirt sophomore completed 15-of-22 passes for a touchdown.
The A&M portion of his playing career will end with the Texas native having totaled 1,962 yards, 15 touchdowns and six interceptions on 138–of-227 passing.