CFT 2015 Preseason Preview: Key Transfers

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Recruiting is what builds a college football program. Transfers are what patches holes still left to address. It seems as though the transfer game in recruiting has picked up notoriety in recent years, and this past offseason may have been one of the biggest.

This season two programs look to replace Heisman Trophy winners with potential Heisman candidates, while also keeping playoff plans on the table. Other playoff and conference title contenders look to add some key additions as well thanks to the transfer process. Here are some of the more notable transfers taking the field with new teams this fall.

EVERETT GOLSON, QB, FLORIDA STATE
Perhaps the most notable of the offseason transfers saw former Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson leave the Irish for Florida State. Golson is expected to replace former Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston. The addition of Golson helps keep Florida State in the running for another ACC title despite filling plenty of starting jobs from a season ago. Golson ran into some trouble with consistency last season but will now be surrounded by plenty of talent and athleticism, and the chance to redeem himself and put another team in the national title hunt will be one worth relishing.

VERNON ADAMS, QB, OREGON
Golson is not the only transfer replacing a former Heisman Trophy winner. Vernon Adams is making the jump from FCS power Eastern Washington to perennial Pac-12 and national title contender Oregon, vying to replace Marcus Mariota. Adams should fit well in Oregon’s system, assuming he wins the starting job in Eugene. Twice a finalist for the FCS equivalent of the Heisman Trophy, the Walter Payton Award, Adams already has a terrific resume. Now he looks for quite the storybook ending.

DEVONTE FIELDS, DE, LOUISVILLE
The former Big 12 freshman defensive player of the year is finally back on the FBS playing field. Now at Louisville, Devonte Fields has a chance to bring havoc in the trenches to opposing ACC offensive linemen and quarterbacks. The former TCU Horned Frog should play a huge role on Louisville’s defensive line. But Fields is not the only player looking to embrace a second chance on the Cardinals defense…

JOSH HARVEY-CLEMONS, S, LOUISVILLE
Former Georgia Bulldog safety Josh Harvey-Clemons landed in the Louisville nest last season but had to sit out the 2014 season due to NCAA transfer rules. Now he is eligible to play and leave an impact on what could be a very good Louisville defense. Harvey-Clemons was often among the best players on the field when he played at Georgia, and that could be the case once again at Louisville if he has not lost a step in his year away from the field.

ALVIN KAMARA, RB, TENNESSEE
Former Alabama running back Alvin Kamara is back in the SEC after a year of junior college. Kamara was one of the top junior college transfers this past year, continuing an impressive recruiting trail for the Vols under Butch Jones. Kamara was a monster at the JUCO level and should be put to work out of the Tennessee backfield along with Jalen Hurd.

CHAD KELLY, QB, OLE MISS
Ole Miss does not have many holes to fill this season with a ton of starters returning, but quarterback is one of them. Fortunately, replacing Bo Wallace should be fairly easy with former Clemson quarterback Chad Kelly in the mix. Kelly is one of many notable players seeking to take advantage of a second chance at the FBS level after being dismissed by Clemson last year. Kelly will have to stay in the good graces of head coach Hugh Freeze to hold down the starting job, but he should manage to come away with the job entering the 2015 season.

JOVON ROBINSON, RB, AUBURN
Auburn’s offense is expected to light up that giant new scoreboard in Jordan-Hare Stadium this season, and the top JUCO transfer Jovon Robinson could be a big part of the reason why. The former Army All-American dominated at Georgia Military Institute and should make for a powerful combo with running back Roc Thomas and quarterback Jeremy Johnson in Auburn’s backfield. Auburn also solidifies some holes in the defensive secondary with the additions of Michigan graduate transfer Blake Countess and former Georgia safety Tray Matthews.

MARQUAVIUS LEWIS, DE, SOUTH CAROLINA
South Carolina may not have another Jadeveon Clowney on its hands, but Marquavius Lewis is already earning a solid reputation with the Gamecocks. Lewis was named South Carolina’s defensive player of the spring and should help improve what was a weak area of concern for Steve Spurrier last season. The Gamecocks need help on the defensive line and the addition of Lewis could provide it as one fo the top JUCO transfers in the nation.

BAKER MAYFIELD, QB, OKLAHOMA
Oklahoma hired Lincoln Riley to be the new offensive coordinator, which means the Sooners are looking to open things up offensively through the air. Having a quarterback suited well in that offensive mindset is key, and Baker Mayfield may be the best option in Norman. A former Texas Tech walk-on, Mayfield showed glimpses of what he can do with the Red Raiders. Now the Sooners will hope he can take it to the next level. Mayfield will have to win the job from incumbent Trevor Knight, but that may not be too far-fetched of a goal.

MWC, Sun Belt commissioners join AAC in starting to stump for Group of Five bid

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Most of the political world may be focused on the upcoming Democratic debates this month but for a slice of the college football world, no debate looms larger than the one concerning who gets the automatic Group of Five bid to the New Year’s Six.

AAC commissioner Mike Aresco has been on a media blitz recently to sump for his league the past two weeks, appearing on a variety of outlets as diverse as Bloomberg to the regular national radio and talk shows that dot the landscape. His message is a pretty simple one that he backs up with plenty of strength of schedule arguments but is essentially: the winner of Saturday’s Memphis-Cincinnati game should get the invite regardless what happens elsewhere.

The Tigers have been the College Football Playoff Selection Committee’s top-ranked Group of Five team recently and likely sit with a win-and-in scenario. The question is though, what happens if the two-loss Bearcats emerge victorious?

That’s what fans of Boise State and Appalachian State are hoping for as both, if they win their respective conference title games, will be positioned to grab the bit in a close race with the AAC winner.

Now it appears that both the MWC and Sun Belt commissioners are joining Aresco in getting their talking points out in hopes that they somehow make their way to the committee’s ears.

“I am disappointed that Appalachian State is not ranked higher,” Sun Belt commish Keith Gill told The Athletic this week. “They are 11-1, 6-0 on the road, the only Group of 5 team to beat two Autonomy 5 teams on the road, and I believe that their body of work deserves more respect.”

“We just let the results kind of speak for themselves,” MWC counterpart Craig Thompson added. “I think we’ve done enough. When it really gets down to it, it’s the people in the room at the Gaylord in Texas (the CFP committee) that’ll make the determination. So as long as we’re stating our case, everything else is kind of superfluous. It really doesn’t matter what others think. It’s those people that are raising their hand”

While neither are quite beating the drum like their AAC counterpart, it’s clear there’s going to be plenty of campaigning for the elusive spot — and the hefty revenue bump that comes with it — from now until Sunday.

NCAA committee chair hints at changes coming to four-game redshirt rule

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This college football season has been a bit different from most thanks to a combination of two factors that have very little to do with the play on the field: a new rule allowing players to redshirt despite playing in four games and the NCAA transfer portal.

Amid a flurry of player movement as a result of those two, on top of unique situations like Houston’s D’Eriq King deciding to take a redshirt in what amounts to a lost year for the Cougars, it seems the powers at be are already eyeing tweaking the current status quo. West Virgnia AD Shane Lyons chairs the NCAA Division I Football Oversight Committee and remarked on a local radio show that adjustments to the current set of rules are likely to be discussed during meetings at the NCAA convention in January.

“I don’t think it’s a good optic for college sports,” Lyons said, according to the West Virginia MetroNews. “The way it looks, a student-athlete is potentially quitting on his team.

“It’s something the committee will look at in their January meeting to make any adjustments as necessary.”

Despite the redshirt rule originating from coaches themselves, in practice it has proven to be problematic for many because players have either removed themselves from action in order to save up a season and play elsewhere or simply entered the transfer portal. Such roster management concerns have led to plenty of criticism about the unintended consequences of the changes and now it appears the adults in the room are getting together to come up with a few changes to defeat the reasoning behind both rules.

We’ll see what happens between now and the January meetings but the days of going four-and-out for some might be coming to an end with the 2019 season.

Nearly half of Saturday’s conference championship games feature double-digit odds

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At least based on the sportsbooks, you shouldn’t expect much drama on championship weekend — which means we should all brace for absolute and utter hell breaking loose, of course.

Friday night and on into Saturday, the 10 FBS conferences will hold their respective league championship games, the results of which will not only shape the College Football Playoff but the New Year’s Six Bowls and all the way down to the lower-tier bowls. As of this posting, and by way of the BetMGM Sportsbook, nearly half of those 10 title games feature double-digit odds:

  • ACC — No. 23 Virginia vs. No. 3 Clemson (-28½)
  • Big Ten — No. 1 Ohio State (-15½) vs. No. 8 Wisconsin
  • Mountain West — Hawaii vs. No. 19 Boise State (-13½)
  • AAC — No. 20 Cincinnati vs. No. 17 Memphis (-10½)

A fifth, the Big 12 championship game, is nearly double-digits as No. 6 Oklahoma is a 9½-point favorite over No. 7 Baylor.

The other five matchups have hovered around seven points or so, including the SEC title game featuring 6½-point favorite and second-ranked LSU clashing with No. 4 Georgia, since the matchups were decided last weekend:

  • Pac-12 (Friday night) — No. 5 Utah (-6½) vs. No. 13 Oregon
  • Sun Belt — Louisiana vs. No. 21 Appalachian State (-6½)
  • MAC — Miami (OH) vs. Central Michigan (-6½)
  • Conference USA — UAB vs. Florida Atlantic (-7½)

Ohio State first school to score Top-10 wins in football, hoops in four days since… Michigan three decades ago

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Some history was made overnight that involves both sides of The Game.

Wednesday night, sixth-ranked Ohio State took seventh-ranked North Carolina to the woodshed in a 74-49 win, handing the Tar Heels the basketball program’s worst-ever home loss at the Dean Dome under Roy Williams.  Four days earlier, second-ranked Ohio State took 10th-ranked Michigan to the woodshed in a 56-27 win, handing the Wolverines their eighth straight loss — and 15th in 16 meetings — in the rivalry.

According to ESPN Stats & Info, this marks the first time in nearly three decades and just the second time ever that one school had scored wins in Associated Press Top-10 matchups in football and basketball in a span of four days or fewer.  The only other school to pull off that feat?  Michigan, in 1992-93.

I have no clue what it actually all means, but it sounds pretty impressive.  And fairly hilarious that it involves both sides of the greatest rivalry in all of sports.