NCAA Football Report (Week 2)

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Some of the most talk I the offseason for the NCAA was about the new world that players entered into with some new NCAA rules.

The NCAA has always had a complicated relationship with transfers as the league forever punished players for transferring.

Players couldn’t simply transfer after they had committed to a team as if they wanted to transfer they would have to sit out a full year and lose that year of eligibility unless that player had graduated and went to another school to earn a graduate degree.

It didn’t stop players from transferring but players had to make that decision as they could leave a bad situation but to do that they would need to sacrifice a year.

It made them think twice about leaving as they would really need to get out of somewhere and into a new and better situation that they thought could change everything for them.

There has been more and more talk about the role of players in the NCAA and the fact that they are used to make millions of dollars with little given back in return.

These players do get a free education but the reality of the situation is that players in the NCAA are looking to go to the NFL.

Many come from poorer neighbourhoods and as important as education is, getting paid for their talents so they can help their families is a bigger priority.

Unfortunately, the NFL requires players to attend at least three years of school where they play football for nothing while getting little to no financial support that can help them with rent, groceries and basic necessities.

This system has come under fire for years and has only picked up recently as the league gets bigger and bigger.

The NCAA is standing firm on paying players but they are willing to add a bit more flexibility for players.

Over the last few years, the NCAA has allowed far more freedom for players to move between schools.

Although the rules still stand the NCAA has always had the ability to grant waivers for players allowing them to play right away after they transferred.

Recently the NCAA has been granting those waivers more often than ever before bringing about a sort of free agency for college players.

This year the league some a number of high-profile players transfer schools in the hopes of finding a better place to play.

Often this comes down to a star player committing to a team, spending a year on the bench and then realizing that playing time is going to be hard to come by for the next few years.

So they decide to leave and head to another team where they can get the playing time they were either promised or wanted from the old school.

The biggest name this year to take this path was Justin Fields who entered his second year of eligibility as the starting QB for the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Fields was the top-ranked QB in the country two years ago and committed to Georgia out of high school.football-sidebar

When he got to Athens he was set in a QB competition for the starting role against incoming starter, Jae Fromm.

Fromm won the job leaving Fields sitting on the bench the entire year and when it became clear that Fromm would start in 2019, Fields looked for a new team.

He received a transfer waiver and moved to Ohio State where he won another QB battle to become the starter this season.

The criticism for this new “free agency” is that the players coming in are a lot like Fields in that they don’t want to pay their dues.

They want to start right away and they aren’t willing to wait like so many quarterbacks who came before them.

For some of the old-school thinkers, this is just impatient young men trying to jump the line and treating commitments as nothing.

Allowing them to break their commitments almost makes things too easy for players to just jump ship at the first sign that they might have to work.

What this old-school thought is missing though is that playing for these teams is a means to an end.

Great players have at most, four years to make an impression and usually only take three of those years.

That is a limited time for players to show that they are talented enough to make it into the NFL and to be worthy of a top draft pick.

Losing two of those three years by sitting behind someone when they know they have the talent is not going to help them.

They need to put something on tape for NFL teams and if that means transferring then they will transfer.

It might be frustrating for some as commitments to schools mean less but this freedom allows players to take control of their careers.

After all, the NCAA might like to say that these student-athletes are students first but the reality is that these players are looking to go pro and this is their only path towards that goal.

 

Heisman Watch

A Ground Battle

The Heisman has been dominated by quarterbacks for a number of seasons with only two running backs taking the award in the last decade. This season the quarterbacks will still take the majority of the attention but there are some running backs taking their swings at the title. Travis Etienne was leading the way but a 53-yard performance in Week 2 might put some doubt in the minds of the voters. Jonathan Taylor has been a scoring machine with 8 touchdowns in two games so far this year while Georgia’s De’Andre Smith is making a name for himself. This battle is always a tough one as the running backs who can lose their hype with one or two bad weeks.

Old Versus New

The Heisman battle could be shaping up to come down to one of the more interesting stories of the year. Tua Tagovailoa remains one of the top QBs in the league and with a soft starting schedule for Alabama, he has the time to pump up his stats. Meanwhile, Jalen Hurts is lighting it up in Oklahoma giving them a legitimate shot at a third straight Heisman winner. Hurts was once the start at Alabama who led them to a National Championship but in that game, Tagovailoa replaced a struggling Hurts to get the win. Tagovailoa took over the starting role the next year and Hurts sat back on the bench. After graduating last year Hurts transferred and is now leading the Sooners and making a legitimate run at the Heisman providing an interesting story and battle between these two.

The New Contender

 It was an impressive showing in prime time as the LSU Tigers were taking on the Texas Longhorns on Saturday night. That game was supposed to be the comeback game for the Longhorns who have been a struggling program for a long time but were showing signs of life. The game was a good one and Texas did look great but the real story coming out of that game was the quarterback of the Tigers. Joe Burrow put up 471 yards and threw four touchdowns to lead the Tigers to the win and that performance on that stage has put him into the running early on.

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