Trading places
Trading places
2012-08-01 00:00:00

DCTF's Jake Shaw on giving college players a second chance and TCU seeking revenge .

 By Jake Shaw
 TexasFootball.com
   

The free-for-all everyone was expecting in light of the NCAA's sanctions against Penn State hasn't quite happened. There have been rumors of players transferring to multiple different destinations, but so far, only one player has made the jump. I get the feeling players are hesitant to leave abandon a program, and opposing coaches are reluctant to hit a program when it's down (mostly for fear of bad press).

But what if Penn State got something in exchange? What if the NCAA took a page out of the pro's rulebook and allowed trades?

In light of the latest negative quarterback news at Texas, I'd bet Mack Brown would vote in favor. And since the NCAA practically treats players as commodities as it is -- yes, players do get a free education, but they give so much of their time (and their health) in exchange -- surely the governing body of college athletics would have no qualms about a system that would further promote equality.

If the NCAA suddenly changed course and allowed programs to trade players, the following six trades involving Texas programs would make a lot of sense.

TRADE: TCU DT David Johnson for Texas A&M RT Jake Matthews
Analysis: The reputations of these two programs precede themselves. TCU is known for strong, fast defenses; Texas A&M has forged a quick, explosive offense. But now TCU is headed to a conference powered by high-scoring offenses, while A&M needs to revamp its defense to match the SEC's standards — making this trade a no-brainer. A&M would still have a strong offensive line without Matthews, but its defensive line needs a strong plug in the middle to match up with the power running games of the SEC. Johnson would meet that need. Conversely, the only thing that might hold back TCU's offense -- the Frogs are set at QB, RB and WR -- is its offensive line. Matthews could slide into either tackle position and give the Frogs a lift. If trades were allowed, this might've been done already.

TRADE: Texas DE Alex Okafor for Texas State QB Tyler Arndt
Analysis: The Bobcats would lobby hard to land the Longhorns' other starting defensive end, Jackson Jeffcoat, since he's a junior and would have one more year of eligibility than Okafor. But since Arndt is still relatively inexperienced, Texas State would have to settle for Okafor, who in baseball terms would be a "rent-a-player," since he'll go pro after the 2012 season. The summer DCTF gave the Texas DL an "A" in its grading, so the loss of Okafor wouldn't hurt too badly. Texas State was rated a D, so it obviously needs a strong pass-rusher. Meanwhile, Texas needs a strong-armed QB badly -- especially if Ash's hamstring injury lingers -- but Texas State is relatively deep. Arndt could start, but he was listed as the backup to Shaun Rutherford. Since Arndt is the more pro-style of the two, he'd be a better fit for the UT offense.

TRADE: Baylor WR Tevin Reese for UTEP DT Germard Reed
Analysis: Reese could have a breakout year at Baylor, but standing in his way are guys like Terrance Williams, Lanear Sampson, Jay Lee, Levi Norwood, Darryl Stonum … the list goes on and on. Baylor is rich with receivers, and though Reese will get a decent share of catches, he could be THE guy in the UTEP offense. The Miners return no receiver that had at least 200 yards receiving last year; Reese has more than 1,200 career yards in two years despite being the third, fourth or fifth option. His speed and open-field playmaking would really benefit the Miner offense. The UTEP defense, though, is relatively deep in the middle of the defensive line, so it could spare Reed, who would have a chance to start right away for the Bears, who have two converted O-linemen atop the depth chart at DT. Win-win for both programs.

TRADE: Texas Tech LT LaAdrian Waddle for Rice CB Philip Gaines and K Chris Boswell
Analysis: Losing Waddle would hurt -- so much so that he's worth the price of two players. But after signing Rashad Fortenberry from the JUCO ranks, Tech would have a mature, big-bodied, ready-to-play replacement for Waddle. Rice, on the other hand, only returns one starting lineman, resulting in a "C-" grade from DCTF in the summer magazine. Waddle would instantly bring that rating upward and give Rice some much-needed protection. Meanwhile, Texas Tech has nearly zero experience at either starting cornerback position. Gaines is a multi-year starter with two years of eligibility left. Completing the trade would be the young and talented Boswell, who would solve Tech's kicking woes for the next three years.

TRADE: Houston RT Rowdy Harper for UTSA WR Kam Jones
Analysis: Gone with decorated QB Case Keenum was his entire receiving corps. Houston has hardly any experience at all coming back, which will make it tough on David Piland, Keenum's replacement. Jones led UTSA in its inaugural season with 39 catches for 578 yards and 2 TDs. Yeah, those aren't eye-popping numbers that UH fans are accustomed to, but Jones has huge potential, seeing that last year was his first-ever season as a receiver. UTSA recruited him to play QB but eventually moved him out wide to utilize his athleticism. In exchange for Jones, UTSA would get a big-bodied starting lineman that would help the Roadrunners better compete against the FBS defensive lines they'll face this year. And since the Coogs' have a very stable line, UH could account for his loss -- while adding a playmaker its offense really needs.

TRADE: North Texas C Aaron Fortenberry for SMU CB Kenneth Acker
Analysis: While North Texas returns four of its five starting offensive linemen from 2011, SMU is plugging in five new starters on its OL. On the flip side of the coin, UNT lost all four of its starting DBs from a year ago, so the Mean Green are in need of help. Getting Marcus Trice, a transfer from OU, will help UNT at safety, so the acquisition of Acker, a starter last year for the Mustangs, would fortify the UNT secondary. The same goes for SMU getting Fortenberry; the multi-year starter would be a great anchor for the SMU offensive line and give first-year starting QB Garrett Gilbert a veteran to help him make the calls at the line of scrimmage.

 

ODDS AND ENDS

 Channel-Surfing Football-Fix: Most of the programs I've recommended in this slot have been replays of games from the 2011 season. But it's time to look ahead, and CBS College Sports Network is doing just that.

In a series called "Inside College Football: Summer Special," CBS will preview the season's upcoming story lines, document teams that have a lot to prove this season and count down to their preseason No. 1 team. While no Texas team will get consideration for the top slot, several are guaranteed to be mentioned in the countdown.

This series (full episode listings are here) began yesterday, but a repeat of the premier is set for tonight at 5.

Irrational Fan of the Week: Impatient fans will ignore this, but there's only one time to truly grade a signing class, and that's not on signing day, or even before it. It takes at least 2-3 years to determine the value of a class. Ask the Texas A&M fans who annually celebrated Dennis Franchione's heralded classes, only to see them crumble. Heck, ask Mike Sherman. He might still be in Aggieland had some of Coach Fran's classes panned out.

So it's pretty foolish to disparage your school's current recruiting class … especially when NONE of the players on the commitment list have signed. That's what makes a reader using the name "dkredraider" -- who posted a thread titled "For the first time I'm really worried about recruiting" on Texas Tech's Scout.com message board -- this week's irrational fan of the week. Said "dkredraider":

"What happened? Sign three non ranked two star or less in a weekend... How desperate is tech?

First of all, nobody has signed yet. Can't happen until February 2013. Secondly, and more importantly, as I noted above, now is not the time to grade a class. So many times an unranked or low-star player is only "under the radar" because nobody has properly scouted him. Tech fans only need to go back to Wes Welker for evidence. As a fan, it all comes down to trust. If you trust your coaching staff's ability to evaluate talent, then there's never a strong reason to gripe about a prospect your staff is recruiting. If they feel he's worthy of a scholarship, so should you. Given Tommy Tubberville's track record, I have a feeling he knows a little more about these recent commitments than "dkredraider" does.

Buy/Sell: TCU's Gary Patterson took center stage on the 2012 DCTF cover, and to his immediate left is new Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin. But I'm here to talk about the other, far-less discussed coaches sharing the cover: UTSA's Larry Coker and Texas State's Dennis Franchione.

Those two coaches lead their respective programs into their inaugural seasons in the FBS ranks. DCTF picked UTSA to go 6-6; Texas State was predicted to go 4-8. I'm going to sell the thought that UTSA will finish with more wins than Texas State.

The Roadrunners have the scheduling edge when it comes to non-conference. The toughest tests are at South Alabama (a fellow newbie to the FBS scene) and at Rice; not surprisingly, DCTF picks UTSA to lose both. However, UTSA, according to Texas Football, will win its other four non-conference games. I don't disagree there.

With the addition of two predicted wins in WAC play (at Idaho and at New Mexico State), UTSA will get to six wins, DCTF thinks. That's where I disagree. Idaho and NMSU aren't good, there's no debating that. But road wins -- especially for a second-year program -- will be tough to come by no matter the competition. I could see UTSA dropping one or both of those.

Texas State has a far tougher non-conference schedule, with games at Houston, New Mexico, Navy and San Jose State (aside from hosting Texas Tech and SFA). DCTF predicts the Bobcats will go 1-5 in that stretch. I disagree -- I see at least two wins, at NM and against SFA, with upsets of Nevada and San Jose State not that far fetched.

Now I'm not counting on Texas State to get to six wins. I think five is more likely. But I also don't see UTSA getting to six either. The step up in competition is too big an obstacle to overcome so early. But wherever UTSA finishes, I expect to see Texas State right there, if not a game better.

Three Tweets of the Week

 

Speaking of recruiting, this tweet from a personal QB coach really caught my attention. Recruiting is like the first stage of dating. There's an emotional high because of the mutual feelings between coach and prospect. But the next step of the relationship -- in this case, arriving on campus -- really is the proving ground of whether the union will last. Only when freshmen arrive on campus will college coaches get a grasp of the player they signed. What is the player's work ethic like? How do they respond to adversity? How do they cope with being away from family for the first time? With many players reporting to their respective universities this week and next, it will be as much as an eye-opening experience for the coaches who recruited them as it will be for the players.

Moving to non-CFB matters, NBC's coverage of the Olympics has been a real annoyance. On one of the first days, I was surfing twitter when a reporter noted that Michael Phelps was set to swim in the finals of an event. I turned on the TV to NBC, but it wasn't there. Flipped over to NBC's other channels broadcasting events (Bravo and MSNBC) -- not there either. It took a few minutes of frustrated flipping before I realized NBC wasn't showing the event live. Unreal! In 1988, when the Olympics were also on the other side of the world, NBC could get away with that. We didn't have the internet as an ever-present spoiler. But these days, it's nearly impossible to avoid finding out the outcome of an event in order to wait six hours for a tape-delayed showing. Especially when NBC tells you the outcome just moments before they show the event.

Last week, I named a writer my "Irrational Fan of the Week" when he canonized Mack Brown for his recruiting practices that, among other things, avoided using third-party services. According to one of Brown's peers, that's probably not be the case.

Read past installments from Jake Shaw's weekly summer column
> June 20: No summertime blues (on amending the NCAA's transfer rules)
> June 27: Feeling the heat (on Mack Brown's "approval" process)
> July 4: Let freedom ring (Why football is America's game)
> July 11: Future football (What changes could be in store)
> July 18: Paterno instinct (How other programs should react in wake of PSU scandal)
> July 25: Transfer fee (The risks and rewards of giving players a second chance)


Jake Shaw is a special contributor to TexasFootball.com

 




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