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Bill Hancock: Expanded College Football Playoff not a talking point


With another year of the College Football Playoff teams being selected with a bit of dramatic flair and questions about what exactly the qualifications are for being selected, the idea of expanding the playoff field beyond four teams continues to be mentioned by media and fans alike who are on the pro-playoff expansion side of the conversation. Unfortunately for them, College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock continues to say expansion has not been discussed.

There’s been no talk about a format change in the meetings of the commissioners and the presidents who manage the CFP,” Hancock said Sunday, according to Heather Dinich of ESPN.

Hancock went on to say the system is perfectly fine and suggested the format is drumming up exactly the kind of interest it was intended to when originally formed.

“This was the kind of debate we wanted when we created the playoff,” Hancock said. “We wanted diverse opinions, we wanted people who wouldn’t hesitate to state their feelings, and man, we got it.”

Oh boy, did they.

As will typically be the case, the most conversation will come around who gets the fourth spot in the four-team playoff field. The fun began right out of the gates when Ohio State was selected with the fourth seed ahead of both Big 12 co-champions, Baylor and TCU, in 2014. While Ohio State, who went on to win the national championship, had a case to be included ahead of Baylor and TCU, the outcome helped ignite the Big 12’s decision to bring back its conference championship game, which returned last year for the first time since the conference went from 12 members to 10.

Things went pretty smoothly in 2015 with a pretty clean path to getting to four teams without much debate, but the 2016 season marked the first time a non-division winner was invited to the playoff with Ohio State getting the third seed ahead of one-loss Pac-12 champion Washington. The biggest question here was either whether Ohio State, who lost to Big Ten champion Penn State (who lost two games), should have even been considered without a division championship or whether Penn State deserved a shot at the playoff over Washington. Whatever the case, Penn State had two losses so the final four decision seemed to be the right one in the end.

And of course, last year saw Alabama as a one-loss non-division winner get into the playoff as the fourth seed while Ohio State sat at home as the Big Ten champion, although with two losses. This season marks the third straight year the Big 12 champion has been left out of the playoff mix. Georgia head coach Kirby Smart also stumped hard for consideration to be in the playoff after losing to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. Georgia may be one of the four best team in the country, but a second loss (even to Alabama in the SEC title game) proved to be too much of an anchor to sink Georgia’s playoff hopes.

The four-team playoff field is here to say, but at some point, it would seem likely the format will eventually change, whether it occurs after the current contract expires or before if enough conference commissioners and presidents start weighing in with a different tune. That has yet to happen, which is why Hancock continues to recite the same answers he’s been doing regarding expansion since the format took over for the BCS.

But always remember, Hancock is also the same one who said for years the BCS was not going to change in favor of a playoff system. Until the time comes when the powers that be tell Hancock to start sending a different message, he’ll continue to say this on a regular basis.

Jalen Hurts has seen Heisman odds shorten since transfer to Oklahoma

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I guess that’s what happens when the school to which you moved has produced back-to-back Heisman winners at the position you play, eh?

In mid-January, as he was in the midst of transferring from Alabama, Jalen Hurts was listed by as a 9/1 shot to stake his claim as the winner of the 2019 Heisman Trophy.  Very shortly thereafter, Hurts’ move to Oklahoma was confirmed; a month later, in the latest odds released by the same online sportsbook, Hurts now sits at 13/2 to win this year’s version of the most storied trophy in college sports.

As was the case a month ago, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence is the way-too-early 2019 Heisman favorite at 7/2, although those odds have lengthened a bit from the initial 3/1.  The quarterback whose play on the field pushed Hurts out in Tuscaloosa, 2018 Heisman runnerup Tua Tagovailoa, also saw his odds lengthen a smidge from 4/1 to 5/1.

Most of the other odds remained relatively steady from that initial release, although USC quarterback JT Daniels and Clemson-to-Missouri transfer Kelly Bryant did both make a move from off the board to part of a mini-pack at 25/1.

For perspective given the fact that we’re still nearly seven months from the 2019 season kicking off, the 2018 Heisman winner, Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, wasn’t among the two dozen or so college football players listed wagering-wise as potential winners around this time a year ago.  The top three Heisman odds at this time last year?  Stanford running back Bryce Love, Wisconsin running back Johnathan Taylor and Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate, none of whom were finalists for the trophy won by Murray.

2019 signee who left Oklahoma for the military will instead transfer to another school

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Never mind, I guess.

Earlier this month, Derek Green, a member of Oklahoma’s 2019 recruiting class, revealed that he would be pursuing a career in the military instead of a career in college football.

“I don’t want to waste anybody’s time,” Green said at the time, “because Oklahoma has a great group of guys on that defense that’s there and coming in and I want them to be successful and they can spend more time developing them while I try to serve my country.”

Green also confirmed at the time that he would be placing his name into the NCAA transfer database, although “that’s just in case I want to go back to it later, but as of right now I’m going to serve my country.”

Fast-forward a few days, and Green announced via Twitter that he will be putting his military career on hold and transferring to a football program other than the one with which he signed back in December.

Green was a consensus three-star signee for the Sooners who enrolled in classes at the university earlier this month.  He was the only signee listed as a defensive tackle in OU’s class this year.

Virginia Tech transfer QB Josh Jackson tweets move to Maryland

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For the third time this offseason, first-year head coach Mike Locksley has pulled in a Power Five transfer to his Maryland program.

On his personal Twitter account Monday night, Josh Jackson announced that he has committed to continuing his collegiate playing career for Locksley at Maryland.  Nearly four weeks ago, it was confirmed that Jackson would be leaving Virginia Tech as the quarterback had placed his name into the NCAA transfer database.

As Jackson is expected to graduate from Tech in May, he would be eligible to play for Maryland this coming season.  Not only that, but he will have another year of eligibility he can use in College Park in 2020 as well.

After going through a tumultuous offseason, Jackson began 2018 as the Hokies’ starting quarterback only to suffer a season-ending injury in mid-September.

As a redshirt freshman in 2017, Jackson started all 13 games for the 9-4 Hokies. He passed for 2,991 yards and ran for another 324 yards while accounting for 26 touchdowns — 20 passing, six rushing.  The passing yards were the most for an FBS freshman that season, while the touchdowns passes were the second-most at this level.

Given the fact that he’ll be immediately eligible, Jackson will head into summer camp as the favorite to lay claim to the Terrapins’ starting job under center.

In addition to Jackson, Maryland has landed transfers from wide receiver Sean Savoy and linebacker Keandre Jones.  The former comes to College Park from Virginia Tech, the latter from Ohio State.

Ex-Arizona State LB Jalen Bates announces transfer to Colorado State

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Not long after declaring he was looking to transfer, ex-Arizona State linebacker Jalen Bates has found his landing spot. Bates is heading to Colorado State.

On Monday, Bates announced to his Twitter followers he is a Ram. The message was posted with a Photoshopped image showing him in a Colorado State football uniform. Bates started 10 games for Arizona State last season, and he has appeared in 18 games during his college career with the Sun Devils. That’s a nice addition for the Rams.

Having already earned his degree from Arizona State, Bates will be eligible to p[lay right away for the Rams this fall.