No summertime blues
DCTF's Jake Shaw debuts his college football summer column.
Spring is in the air! At least for a few more hours, that is. Summer officially begins tonight, although it's felt like summer for a while now. To commemorate the Summer Solstice, today begins a weekly series exploring the wide world of Texas college football.
Few names raise a Rice fan's blood to a boil quicker than Todd Graham. The same can be said for followers of Tulsa and Pittsburgh.
And for all you Arizona State alumni: You've been warned. Based on Graham's track record, his time in Tempe will be short.
Graham had one excellent year at Rice, taking the Owls to their first bowl game since the 1961 Sugar. But he left that "dream job" for another "dream job" (Tulsa), where he won a lot of games in four years — only to leave for Pittsburgh. Less than 365 days later, Graham took off for Arizona State. I'm inclined to believe he'll be renting, not buying, his new home.
Instead, it's to make a case for the NCAA to re-evaluate its transfer rules. Too many times players run into unfortunate and unforeseen circumstances where the best resolution is a change of scenery. In some cases, the NCAA allows automatic eligibility, but not often enough. So I came up with a few scenarios where the NCAA would be wise to amend its transfer rules.
No place like home: Far too often a player will get caught up in the glitz and glamour of a Big-Name U, located hundreds of miles from home, and decide to play there. They arrive at BNU and realize the next four years of their life are nothing like the two-day recruiting trip that sold them on the school. This amendment to the NCAA's rules would allow players to transfer to a school close to home, with two stipulations: 1) The school they originally signed with had to be at least 500 miles away from their home, and 2) The transfer school must be located within 100 (or so) miles from the high school where the player graduated. Guys like Sam McGuffie would've benefited from this rule.
Coaching carousels: The reason I brought up Graham's name to begin with. Many players pick a program for its head coach (or even a positional coach). RGIII was going to play wherever Art Briles was, be it at UH or Baylor. What if Briles for some reason had left Baylor after RGIII had enrolled? Why does the NCAA penalize a player for changing programs when the coach is free to roam wherever he chooses? This change would grant immediate eligibility to transfers who follow the coach they signed with to the coach's new program. It's a no-brainer really.
Family First: The NCAA does an adequate job of granting immediate eligibility to transfers who pick a school close to home so they can be closer to an ill loved one. But not good enough. In the past three months, my mom has undergone an open-heart surgery, and my mother-in-law is currently going through chemotherapy following breast cancer. Things like that change your perspective. You want to be as close to possible to family. If a recruit can adequately prove a family member is in poor health or has undergone a major, life-changing operation, the player should not be punished for wanting to continue his education (and play football of course) at a program closer to home. Even more of a no-brainer.
No more guilt by association: You sign a scholarship at a college program — let's use USC, for example. A year or so later, you're told you won't be allowed to play in any postseason games, all because of the improprieties of a guy who played at your school when you were in junior high. Or maybe you're told your team won't be on TV. This happens all the time. Current players punished for the sorriness of the coaches and/or players who came before them. If I'm headed into my senior season and suddenly I won't be allowed to play for a bowl game, I want to find a place where I can. And I don't want to sit a year waiting to do so. I think of all my propositions, this is the one the NCAA must first examine. It's a borderline crime to continue to punish the innocent for the transgressions of the guilty.
So there you have it. It's not like I'm asking that players get automatic eligibility because they wake up one morning and realize they don't like their school colors. These are reasonable scenarios that the NCAA should consider, allowing players to transfer — and play immediately — when the situation calls for it.
ODDS AND ENDS
Channel-surfing football-fix: I spent far too many summer days sitting on the couch watching endless reruns of Hogan's Heroes and My Three Sons. Those were the days where kids only had 50 or so channels to choose from; now, with literally hundreds of options, finding some form of televised football is a click away. Each week this summer I'll highlight the most interesting option on the tube.
This week: It's too soon to tell if Tyrone Swoopes is the next Vince Young, but you can get another look at the Whitewright senior when the Elite 11 Selection Special announces its 2012 QB class, 7 p.m. Thursday on ESPNU.
Irrational Fan of the Week: This inaugural weekly honor goes to "The Fake Lonnie Finch", a poster on the UNT message board gomeangreen.com. Derailing a thread about former UNT RB Lance Dunbar adjusting to the NFL's speed, The Fake Lonnie Finch wrote:
This is what Vince Young discovered...and Robert Griffin will soon discover. That's why there are no "running quarterbacks" with Super Bowl rings. Outrunning Iowa State's defensive ends is one thing...have Mario Williams, Demarcus Ware, and the like bearing down on you play after play is a completely different animal. You'd think owners and GMs would have figured that out by now. Most have.
Where to begin? How about noting that ex-QBs like Steve Young, Fran Tarkenton, Kenny Stabler, Jeff Garcia, Randall Cunningham (not to mention current players like Michael Vick, Tony Romo, ) put together excellent careers as QBs that could run. Secondly, Vince Young may be having trouble, but he was the NFL Rookie of the Year not too long ago. And RGIII might have track speed, but his most impressive attribute is his arm. Ask his Washington teammates.
Yes, the NFL speed is a huge adjustment for every player. But the NFL is changing, so speed under center is becoming something GMs seek. And secondly, RGIII is a QB first, runner second.
Buy/Sell: Each week I'll make a statement, then transcribe my internal debate for your reading pleasure. This week's statement: A four-team playoff will quiet college football's postseason critics. I sell this like it's Facebook stock. It might work one year, but as the BCS has proven over and over again, letting computers and/or old men decide who plays for titles doesn't truly settle anything. Yeah, it makes the regular season interesting and adds some drama to the end of the season, but how many times have people said an NCAA basketball champion didn't deserve the title? Never, because even if a true underdog wins, they still settled the matter in play.
Four teams still isn't enough. Who of Oregon, Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma State, Arkansas and Stanford would you have left out last year? And more importantly, leaving the leaders of the Big 10 and SEC to steer the conversations will only guarantee that the rich will continue to get richer. What about Boise State last year? What about TCU the year before? In many proposed systems, those teams would've been left out.
It almost makes me think I'd rather stick with the current BCS setup until a more comprehensive, all-inclusive system comes around. I think it will. Until then, most of the current systems being discussed are merely minor fixes and not the proper solution.
Tweet of the Week
Mountaineer football 2012 starts in 74 days! #WVU #Big12 #Mountaineernation
Who would've thought, back in the mid 90s when the venerable SWC was breaking up and the Big 12 was forming, that Baylor/Texas Tech/TCU would be in a league with West Virginia; Texas A&M would be in the SEC and not on UT's schedule; SMU and Houston would be playing in a conference headquartered out east; and so on and so forth. Makes me wonder what's yet to come ...
Jake Shaw is a special contributor to Dave Campbell's Texas Football and TexasFootball.com.