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College football world will watch as SEC reviews graduate transfer rules at spring meetings

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Among a handful of items on the agenda for this week’s SEC spring meetings will be a review and discussion about the league’s graduate transfer rules. Specifically, the SEC is expected to address the current restrictions on accepting players as graduate transfers if a previous graduate transfer fails to meet that school’s academic requirements.

“This will be the first meaningful conversation that we’ve had since the proliferation of graduate transfers has happened nationally,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said to the Associated Press. ”I expect our membership to have a pretty meaningful conversation about the right perspective on graduate transfers entering the SEC from outside and then the topic of inter-conference transfers.”

Sankey has promised the topic of graduate transfer rules will be reviewed at the SEC spring meetings, and it will be a bit overdue. Better later than never, right?

Like the early signing period, this is a topic the SEC has found themselves standing in the minority crowd. The SEC has had a complicated relationship to graduate transfers since the NCAA opened the door for graduate transfers in 2006. The conference banned all graduate transfers in 2011 after Ole Miss had added former Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli as a graduate transfer. The Masoli transfer was one scrutinized by the NCAA and critics before officially being cleared following an appeal. In 2014, the ban was lifted, but with provisions in place to ensure SEC schools were not adding graduate transfers with no intention of pursuing a graduate degree.

One person who may be watching this development this week with great interest is likely former Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire. Zaire is suspected to be down to deciding whether to transfer to Florida or Texas, and he has already pushed back his decision seemingly to wait and see if the Gators will be an actual option. For that to happen, the SEC will have to amend its graduate transfer policy or allow Florida an exemption.

Florida is unable to add a graduate transfer like Zaire because two previous graduate transfers (former Georgia Tech linebacker Anthony Harrell and former Fordham offensive lineman Mason Halter) failed to meet the academic requirements after transferring to Florida. That put Florida on a three-year ban from adding any graduate transfers through 2018.

But if the SEC is the one lagging behind the competition when it comes to its graduate transfer policies, why would the college football world be watching? That’s easy. If the sEC amends its graduate transfer policies, then makes the conference that already typically dominates in talent acquisition through recruiting has a chance to become even stronger and more desirable. Graduate transfers who may be blocked from enrolling at an SEC school and have been forced to evaluate other options in the Big 12 or Big Ten and so on, could have a chance to transfer to the SEC. For example, Florida could add Zaire to their roster, which leaves Texas hoping Tom Herman really works his QB magic in Austin.

There is a ripple effect that could potentially play out, even in a conference that is in need of catching up in this particular issue. That’s how important the decisions made in the SEC could be for the entire sport.

Marshall posts a league-high eight First Team All-Conference USA selections

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Florida Atlantic won the conference, but Marshall won the All-Conference USA team.

The Thundering Herd, who finished second to FAU in the East Division, placed eight players on the first team to FAU’s five. (However, three of the eight first-team Herd were specialists.)

The conference will not name individual awards until Wednesday, but here’s betting that Florida Atlantic will have the winner there. Sophomore quarterback Chris Robison threw for nearly 3,400 yards and 26 touchdowns, while tight end Harrison Bryant led all FBS tight ends with 61 grabs and 1,004 yards while scoring seven touchdowns.

Western Kentucky came in third with four first-team selections.


OFFENSE

QB- Chris Robison, R-So., Florida Atlantic
QB- J’Mar Smith, R-Sr., Louisiana Tech
RB- Benny LeMay, Sr., Charlotte
RB- Brenden Knox, R-So., Marshall
OL- Cameron Clark, R-Sr., Charlotte
OL- Junior Diaz, Gr., Florida Atlantic
OL- Brandon Walton, Sr., Florida Atlantic
OL- Levi Brown, R-Sr., Marshall
OL- Miles Pate, R-Sr., WKU
TE- Harrison Bryant, Sr., Florida Atlantic
WR- Jaelon Darden, Jr., North Texas
WR- Quez Watkins, R-Jr., Southern Miss
WR- Lucky Jackson, R-Sr., WKU

DEFENSE
DT- Channing Hames, R-Sr., Marshall
DT- Garrett Marino, R-Sr., UAB
DE- Alex Highsmith, R-Sr., Charlotte
DE- DeAngelo Malone, Jr., WKU
LB- Tavante Beckett, R-Jr., Marshall
LB- Blaze Alldredge, Jr., Rice
LB- Kristopher Moll, Jr., UAB
DB- Meiko Dotson, R-Jr., Florida Atlantic
DB- Amik Robertson, Jr., Louisiana Tech
DB- Chris Jackson, Sr., Marshall
DB- DQ Thomas, Sr., Southern Miss

SPECIAL TEAMS
K- Justin Rohrwasser, R-Sr., Marshall
P- John Haggerty, Jr., WKU
KR- Jaylond Adams, R-So., Southern Miss
PR- Talik Keaton, Fr., Marshall
LS – Matt Beardall, Sr., Marshall

Dave Aranda trending in UNLV search

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Dave Aranda makes more money in one year as LSU’s defensive coordinator than Tony Sanchez would earn in four as UNLV’s head coach.

But, still, the $600,000 Sanchez earned before his firing in Las Vegas as a living that most of us would deem more than comfortable, especially for a guy who began his career as a JV coach at Redlands High School back in 1995.

So that, and UNLV’s history of losing, are not enough to scare off Aranda from the UNLV job. Multiple outlets reported Tuesday that Aranda has emerged as a strong candidate for the vacant Rebels’ head coaching job. (Full disclosure: I also work for FootballScoop.)

UNLV went 4-8 in 2019 and 20-40 in five seasons under Sanchez. In fact, the last coach to leave the desert with a winning record did so in 1985.

Still, Aranda has been part of the turnaround at previously-moribund Utah State, and UNLV’s history is part of the intrigue for him.

Aranda is not UNLV’s next head coach at this time, but he could be. That alone is cause for celebration in Vegas.

Western Michigan’s Jon Wassink wins Wuerffel Trophy as college football’s top community servant

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Western Michigan quarterback Jon Wassink has been named the 2019 winner of the Wuerffel Trophy as college football’s top community servant, it was announced Tuesday.

The trophy is named in honor of Florida Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Danny Wuerffel. He will receive the award at the All Sports Association’s annual banquet in Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

“We are excited to announce that Jon is this year’s recipient of the Wuerffel Trophy and are thrilled about him joining our family of past winners,” said Wuerffel. “What he has done serving others off the field, along with his work in the classroom and on the playing field, represents what the Wuerffel Trophy is all about. Also, I’d like to say the same about our other two finalists, Isaiah Sanders of the U.S. Air Force Academy and Derrick Brown of Auburn University. The amount of community service that these young men have done is just incredible. Hats off to these amazing student athletes.”

Wassink is also a finalist for the Campbell Trophy as the nation’s top scholar-athlete, which will be awarded Tuesday night during the National Football Foundation’s annual dinner. The Wuerffel Trophy announcement was made in conjunction with the NFF festivities.

Wassink carries a 3.96 GPA as an accounting major. A three-year starter and a two-time MAC Distinguished Scholar-Athlete, the Grand Rapids native has thrown for 6,289 career yards, rushed for 581 yards and scored 63 total touchdowns.

He led the Broncos to within a game of the MAC West championship and will close his career in the First Responder Bowl against Western Kentucky on Dec. 30, and he’ll do so with one and perhaps two major off-the-field awards in hand.

Mike Gundy calls Texas A&M ‘the best 7-5 team in the history of the NCAA’

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Mike Gundy has a dry sense of humor and a delivery flatter than the Stillwater topography, which can make it hard to parse when he’s being serious and when he’s not — which makes his sense of humor all the sharper.

But in this case, it seems like he was giving Oklahoma State’s Texas Bowl opponent a genuine complement, even if it reads on the page (or, uh, screen) as if he was attempting to damn Texas A&M with faint praise.

“I think they are the best 7-5 team in the history of the NCAA in my opinion,” said Mike Gundy on Sunday, via Pistols Firing. “They have lost to No. 1; they have lost to No. 1; they have lost to No. 1; they lost to No. 4; and they lost to No. 12. That’s their five losses.

“They are definitely a top-20 team. I haven’t started watching tape on them. I watched them on TV a couple times. I know that they are very athletic. I know that their quarterback, he’s a third-rated quarterback in the SEC, only behind the Heisman Trophy winner and behind Tua. So it will be a great challenge for us. We’ll have to get to work as soon as possible. We’ll have to have great preparation and we’ll have to play a very good game against a very, very good team.”

Texas A&M became the first team in AP poll era to face three separate AP No. 1 teams — postseason included — and did so during the regular season. The Aggies’ five losses came to then-No. 1 Clemson, then-No. 8 Auburn, then-No. 1 Alabama, then-No. 4 Georgia and then-No. 1 LSU. No. 25 Oklahoma State went 8-4 this season with losses to the-No. 12 Texas, unranked Texas Tech, then-No. 18 Baylor and then-No. 7 Oklahoma.

Gundy and company will attempt to make the Aggies the best 7-6 team in NCAA history come Dec. 27 (6:45 p.m. ET, ESPN).