Archives For NCAAF

Moot Realignment

Tyler Raborn —  Friday, February 22, 2013 — 5 Comments

When the phrase “conference realignment” is uttered, most college sports fans can’t help but roll their eyes.

…or throw up.

Yet conference realignment is prevalent in today’s college sports’ landscape.

But why?

As Pete Thamel pointed out in his Sports Illustrated article, conference realignment, such as Maryland joining the Big Ten, has been fueled by revenues from cable deals:

Maryland will join the Big Ten conference in 2014 after a vote by its Board of Regents on Monday to end a 59-year relationship with the ACC. The impetus of the move, primarily, is to help save an athletic department struggling financially and to set up a huge potential payday for the Big Ten through increased cable revenue.

Even the mighty SEC has fallen victim to this greedy desire, as Chris Smith pointed out in his article:

The conference has two deals to renegotiate: a $825 million first-tier rights contract with CBS, and a $2.25 billion second-tier deal with ESPN. Both are 15-year contracts that were signed in 2008 and run through the 2023-24 season. The SEC gets the chance to renegotiate both deals thanks to the recent additions of Missouri and Texas A&M.

The SEC’s first-tier rights deal pays an average $55 million annually, and that payout should move up to a minimum $64 million to equally compensate the two new members.

But has it all been worth it?

Maybe. We don’t know yet. But we can speculate.

Apple fever has been sweeping the United States for the last few years. People who once vowed they’d never give up their Blackberry, including myself, are now on their 2nd iPhone. PC users have become Mac diehards. And some families have given up their cable boxes for the selective programming offered by Apple TV.

That same selective programming, through applications such as Netflix and Hulu Plus, are available on Xbox and Playstation as well.

So where is this all headed?

We don’t know.

There’s a lot of money moving around in Washington from companies to lobbyists that we don’t know about.

But we’re speculating.

If a company could offer totally selective programming, wouldn’t everyone opt to do it?

Instead of paying $63.99 for 300 channels, 293 of which you don’t watch, wouldn’t you rather pay $35 for the channels you do watch? Or more so, $15 simply for the specific shows and events you watch?

Obviously cable companies are doing everything they can to block a transition to selective programming. Yet it seems to be consumer-friendly. Maybe next year, maybe in 50 years, it could happen.

There is a disproportionality in what people watch and how much money those programs make off of their specific event. Yet it seems the programming that is getting the “short end of the stick” could eventually break out of their cable deals and into the free market of “pay-per-program” television.

Imagine turning on your Xbox and being able to select any show, movie, or live sporting event you please for a cost.

This model would also inspire more talented independent people to create shows and movies, if they were given a user-friendly platform. Simply look at what Xbox’s platform has done for small game developers. Or what YouTube has done for creative film students.

The economics behind a shift to this model contain an outrageous amount of variables, which could be credited with the slow and hesitant move to what seems to be an obvious choice for consumers. Yet this article’s purpose isn’t to analyze the percentage chance of this move happening or how quickly it could come. Rather, this article seeks to pose a question to conferences that are realigning:

What if the cable deals that motivated all of the geographically irrational conference realignment fall apart?

You’re all thinking “slim chance.”

I know.

But—what if?

The conferences could begin marching to a different drummer. Cable deals could no longer be the motivating factor, but rather, maximizing viewership of individual events.

When Auburn rolls into Tuscaloosa to play Alabama in the Iron Bowl, and 12 million viewers tune in, Alabama and Auburn could exclusively profit off of that event. Playing rivals could become even more attractive for schools.

Further, big non-conference games could become much more attractive to schools. If Michigan could profit more from a television event that featured them playing Oklahoma, more so than Appalachian State (ha), then they could be more likely to schedule big games.

This could also lead realigned conferences to… realign. Again.

Schools could lose more money from being part of conferences not geographically-friendly. The burden of travel cost on schools could no longer be outweighed by the “profit-sharing” cable deals of certain conferences.

Thus, schools could be inclined to join more geographically-friendly conferences. We could end up with more logically aligned conferences where teams are financially encouraged to play more successful non-conference opponents.

Yes, I know that several schools would be left high and dry without profit-sharing. So maybe some conferences still implore profit-sharing. I don’t know, nor care to study, the exact dollars and cents behind it. But I will say that I am a proponent of free market ideology—so, there’s that.

Either way, the destruction of cable deals could lead to much more fan-friendly conference re-realignment. It could also lead to schools playing more prominent non-conference games.

But…

These possibilites are all “could be” scenarios, rather than “will be.” Too many key pieces, including politicians, cable executives, contract laws, and a plethora of other obstacles, stand in the way of this conference utopia.

So in conclusion… we have no conclusion. Merely a glimmer of hope that one day, this will all make sense.

————

By: Tyler Raborn

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David Fangupo: The 350-Pound Running Back

Tyler Raborn —  Wednesday, February 13, 2013 — 6 Comments

Check out this video of David Fangupo, a 350-pound running back from Hawaii:

According to the Huffington Post, David has committed to the University of Hawaii, making him the first athletic 350-pounder not to commit to an SEC school in years…

Earlier this week I posted a short article on the 2012 NFL All-Pro team and how many stars they had from Scout and Rivals coming out of high school. It had such a positive response that I decided to do the same thing with the 2011 NFL All-Pro team and compare them to the 2012 All-Pro team.

So here’s the 2011 NFL All-Pro Team and how many stars (the star counts are now hyperlinked to their recruiting profiles) they had from Scout and Rivals coming out of high school (players that graduated high school before 2002 are not in the database):

Position

Player

Scout

Rivals

QB Aaron Rodgers - -
RB Maurice Jones-Drew 4 4
RB LeSean McCoy 5 4
FB Vonta Leach - -
WR Calvin Johnson 5 4
WR Wes Welker - -
TE Rob Gronkowski 4 4
OT Jason Peters - -
OT Joe Thomas NR 4
G Carl Nicks - -
G Jahari Evans - -
C Maurkice Pouncey 4 4
DE Jared Allen - -
DE Jason Pierre-Paul 5 4
DT Haloti Ngata 5 5
DT Justin Smith - -
OLB Terrell Suggs - -
OLB DeMarcus Ware - -
ILB NaVorro Bowman 4 4
ILB Patrick Willis 2 3
ILB Derrick Johnson - -
CB Charles Woodson - -
CB Darrelle Revis 3 3
S Troy Polamalu - -
S Eric Weddle 2 2
KR Patrick Peterson 5 5

And here’s the All-Pro team’s broken down by star and year (Scout’s stars  and Rivals’ stars are averaged):


Stars

2011

2012

5 2 1
4.5 4 1
4 4 4
3.5 0 3
3 1 3
2.5 1 2
2 1 4
Total 13 18
Out of 26 25

While only 13 players from the 2011 All-Pro team were in the database, they still managed to produce 10 players 4-stars or higher. In contrast, the 2012 team had 18 players, but only managed 6 players 4-stars or higher.

But the real story in all of this? Rob Gronkowski.

Rob Gronkowski

Dumbfounded doesn’t even begin to describe whatever is going on up there. And keep in mind, that guy—yes, that guy—was just offered $3.75M to be in an “adult film.”

————

By: Tyler Raborn

National Signing Day is Just the Beginning

Tyler Raborn —  Wednesday, February 6, 2013 — 1 Comment

Earlier today, J.J. Watt tweeted this motivational tweet:

J.J. Watt Tweet

The All-Pro defensive end makes a good point— a player’s college or pro football success doesn’t depend on how highly touted a player is coming out of high school. Hard work, good coaching, and a few lucky breaks significantly weigh into a recruit’s eventual performance on the field.

For proof, just look at the 2012 NFL All-Pro Team and how many stars they had from Scout and Rivals coming out of high school (players that graduated high school before 2002 are not in the database):

Position

Player

Scout

Rivals

QB Peyton Manning - -
RB Adrian Peterson 5 5
RB Marshawn Lynch 4 4
FB Vonta Leach - -
WR Calvin Johnson 5 4
WR Brandon Marshall - -
TE Tony Gonzalez - -
OT Duane Brown 3 3
OT Ryan Clady 2 2
G Mike Iupati 2 2
G Jahari Evans - -
C Max Unger 2 3
DE J.J. Watt 2 2
DE Cameron Wake - -
DT Geno Atkins 3 4
DT Vince Wilfork - -
OLB Von Miller 4 4
OLB Aldon Smith 3 3
ILB NaVorro Bowman 4 4
ILB Patrick Willis 2 3
CB Richard Sherman 3 3
CB Charles Tillman - -
S Earl Thomas 4 4
S Dashon Goldson 3 4
KR Jacoby Jones 2 2

So, more than likely, there’s a 2-star player signing somewhere today with little to no media attention that will one day be an All-Pro NFL player.

————

By: Tyler Raborn

Gavin Dickey was a promising 5-star quarterback prospect from Tallahassee, Florida in 2002. The state of Florida’s Gatorade Player of the Year was “[a] four year starter for a Tallahassee Lincoln program that won two state championships and compiled a 45-5 overall record in his four years as the signal caller.”

But Dickey never lived up to the hype. In 2004 he served primarily as a backup to Chris Leak and eventually saw action at 3 different positions (quarterback, running back, and wide receiver). During his tenure at Florida he attempted a total of 15 passes, completing 11 for 127 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception.

Dickey is just one of the many high school football phenoms to never make it professionally. In fact, of the 408 quarterbacks to be rated a 3-star or better between 2002 and 2007, only 45 of them were selected in the NFL draft. The other 88.97% of those quarterbacks continued on to live out the NCAA moto and went “pro in something other than sports.”

The questions this article seeks to answer are:

What is the percentage chance a 5-star quarterback eventually gets selected in the NFL draft?

What is the percentage chance a 5-star quarterback eventually gets selected in the 1st round of the NFL draft?

What about quarterbacks that have a 4-star or 3-star rating— what are their chances to be selected in the NFL draft? What about the 1st round?

To answer these questions, we’ll apply all available complete data. Scout, Inc. ranks athletes according to a star rating system that rates players as 5-stars, 4-stars, 3-stars, 2-stars, and NR (Not Ranked), with 5-stars being the highest ranking a player can receive. The following table illustrates the number of 5-star, 4-star, and 3-star quarterbacks in each recruiting class year from 2002 to 2007:


Year

5-Stars

4-Stars

3-Stars

Totals

2002

5 29 37 71

2003

4 23 45 72

2004

4 15 37 56

2005

4 21 36 61

2006

4 18 46 68

2007

6 31 43 80

Totals

27 137 244 408

As illustrated in the table above, a very small portion of the quarterbacks each year receive Scout’s 5-star rating. An average of 68 quarterbacks a year between 2002 and 2007 received a 3-star rating or better. And of those top 68 quarterbacks in the country, only between 4 and 6 received a 5-star rating. Further, on a macro level, of all of the quarterbacks that received a 3-star rating or better between 2002 and 2007, 6.62% of them received a 5-star rating, 33.58% received a 4-star rating, and the remaining 59.80% received a 3-star rating.

Summarized: It’s tough to get 5 stars.

But what do these ratings truly represent? Since Scout’s recruiting rankings database starts in 2002, we are just now beginning to get a large enough sample size to analyze this rating system. So of the 408 quarterbacks in our sample, here’s a table with the 45 quarterbacks that were eventually drafted, segmented by their Scout Star Ratings, with the round they were taken in the NFL Draft:


Round

5-Stars

4-Stars

3-Stars

Totals

1st

5 5 4 14

2nd

2 2 1 5

3rd

2 1 1 4

4th

0 2 1 3

5th

3 2 4 9

6th

2 2 2 6

7th

0 2 2 4

Totals

14 16 15 45

While the number of 5-star, 4-star, and 3-star quarterbacks taken in the NFL draft were relatively even, this number is misleading. As discussed earlier, a much smaller portion of high school quarterbacks received a 4-star rating than a 3-star rating, and an even smaller portion received a 5-star rating.

Here are the 27 quarterbacks to receive a 5-star rating from Scout from 2002 to 2007 with the round and year they were drafted in (if applicable):

Recruiting Class

Quarterback

Draft Round

Year Drafted

2002 Vince Young 1 2006
2002 Trent Edwards 3 2007
2002 Ben Olson N/A N/A
2002 Reggie McNeal 6 2006
2002 Gavin Dickey N/A N/A
2003 John David Booty 5 2008
2003 Kyle Wright N/A N/A
2003 Chris Leak N/A N/A
2003 JaMarcus Russell 1 2007
2004 Rhett Bomar 5 2009
2004 Xavier Lee N/A N/A
2004 Anthony Morelli N/A N/A
2004 Chad Henne 2 2008
2005 Mark Sanchez 1 2009
2005 Ryan Perrilloux N/A N/A
2005 Jonathan Crompton 5 2010
2005 Joe Ayoob N/A N/A
2006 Mitch Mustain N/A N/A
2006 Matthew Stafford 1 2009
2006 Tim Tebow 1 2010
2006 Brent Schaeffer N/A N/A
2007 Jimmy Clausen 2 2010
2007 Ryan Mallett 3 2011
2007 Aaron Corp N/A N/A
2007 Tyrod Taylor 6 2011
2007 Kodi Burns N/A N/A
2007 Pat Bostick N/A N/A

So, as this table illustrates, 14 of the 27 quarterbacks were selected in the NFL Draft. And 5 of these 27 quarterbacks were taken in the 1st round. Thus, 51.85% of quarterbacks to receive a 5-star rating from Scout were eventually taken in the NFL draft. Accordingly, 18.52% were taken in the 1st round.

The following table shows the percentage chance that quarterbacks with a certain star rating from 2002 through 2007 would eventually be drafted into specific rounds. Further, the final row of the table, titled “Any,” represents the percentage chance for a certain star rating to be drafted in general, while the last column, titled “All,” represents the percentage chance that one of the 408 quarterbacks in our sample would be taken in a particular round.


Round

5-Stars

4-Stars

3-Stars

All

1st

18.52% 3.65% 1.64% 3.43%

2nd

7.41% 1.46% 0.41% 1.23%

3rd

7.41% 0.73% 0.41% 0.98%

4th

0.00% 1.46% 0.41% 0.74%

5th

11.11% 1.46% 1.64% 2.21%

6th

7.41% 1.46% 0.82% 1.47%

7th

0.00% 1.46% 0.82% 0.98%

Any

51.85% 11.68% 6.15% 11.03%

So returning to the questions this article sought to answer…

What is the percentage chance a 5-star quarterback eventually gets selected in the NFL draft?

Given our available data, a quarterback that received a 5-star rating from Scout had a 51.85% chance to eventually be selected in the NFL draft. That number is simply astounding. Over half of the quarterbacks given 5-stars were eventually taken in the NFL draft.

What is the percentage chance a 5-star quarterback eventually gets selected in the 1st round of the NFL draft?

A 5-star quarterback had a 18.52% chance of eventually being selected in the 1st round.

What about quarterbacks that have a 4-star or 3-star rating— what are their chances to be selected in the NFL draft? What about the 1st round?

Quarterbacks that were given a 4-star rating from 2002 through 2007 had a 11.68% chance of eventually being drafted and a 3.65% chance of that draft pick coming in the 1st round. And finally, quarterbacks with a 3-star rating had a 6.15% chance of eventually being drafted and a 1.64% chance of that draft selection being in the 1st round.

Overall, the probability that a high school quarterback is eventually selected in the NFL draft is astronomically higher if he’s been given a 5-star rating.

Looking ahead to the recruiting class of 2008, here’s the list of quarterbacks that received a 4-star rating or better, with the round and year they were drafted in or their current college:

Star-Rating

Quarterback

Draft Round (Year) or Current College

5-Star Terrelle Pryor 3 (2011)
5-Star E.J. Manuel FSU
5-Star Dayne Crist Kansas
5-Star Andrew Luck 1 (2012)
5-Star Kevin Craft N/A
4-Star Mike Glennon N.C. State
4-Star Landry Jones Oklahoma
4-Star Blaine Gabbert 1 (2011)
4-Star Tommy Dorman N/A
4-Star Nick Crissman N/A
4-Star Sean Renfree Duke
4-Star Star Jackson N/A
4-Star Robert Griffin 1 (2012)
4-Star Kyle Parker N/A
4-Star MarQueis Gray Minnesota
4-Star Darron Thomas N/A
4-Star Jacob Bower N/A
4-Star Dax Crum N/A
4-Star Greg Alexander N/A
4-Star David Pittman N/A
4-Star Boo Jackson N/A
4-Star Tyson Lee N/A
4-Star Greg Cross N/A
4-Star Jacory Harris N/A

If you don’t get anything else out of this article, please simply get this:

Somewhere out there, there’s a guy named Boo, and that’s what keeps me going.

————

By: Tyler Raborn

Many fans believe that recruiting is the key to success in college football.

Is that the case? Is college football strictly dictated by recruiting? Are teams’ accomplishments directly related to their recruiting classes?

Umm… kinda, sorta, and maybe.

After 10-20 hours of research and building an excel file that would make Nate Silver proud, those are the answers I came up with— total indecision.

But what my research did determine was data showing the most overachieving and underachieving teams of the past 7 years.

The terms “overachieving” and “underachieving” are in regards to the relationship between the amount of talent on a given team and their actual performance with that talent.

So what defines a team’s “talent”?

I used the most objective formula that I could come up with to determine talent. And while I know this method has several exceptions and is extremely broad, it is the most effective method that I could come up with, without doing individual team analyses. So, keep in mind, this is all done to give a broad picture of a general idea— not a detailed team-by-team analysis.

First, I collected all of the recruiting data available from two of the most respected sources in the college football recruiting industry: Scout, Inc. and Rivals. Both Scout and Rivals’ data goes back to 2002, so I collected all of the team rankings in recruiting from 2002 to 2012 from each site and inserted them into an excel file. Then, I averaged the rankings together to come up with an objective “composite score” to represent each team for each year.

For example, in 2003 Scout ranked Florida State’s recruiting class 12th in the nation, while Rivals ranked them 21st in the nation. Thus, their composite score was a ranking of 16.5.

Next, I devised a formula to account for all of the recruiting classes on an individual team. After examining several depth charts, I determined the following weights for each class:

Freshman- 12.5%
Sophomore (or Redshirt Freshman)- 22.5%
Junior (or Redshirt Sophomore)- 25%
Senior (or Redshirt Junior)- 27.5%
5th Year Senior- 12.5%

So,the formula to determine, what I will call, the “talent quotient” on a particular team is:

( .125 x Composite Score of Freshman Class ) + ( .225 x Composite Score of Sophomore Class ) + ( .25 x Composite Score of Junior Class ) + ( .275 x Composite Score of Senior Class ) + ( .125 x Composite Score of 5th Year Senior Class ) = Talent Quotient

For instance, to determine the talent quotient of the 2006 Florida State team, we simply need to plug in the composite scores of each recruiting class into the formula. Here’s Florida State’s 2002 – 2006 recruiting class ranks:

Year

Scout, Inc.

Rivals

Composite Score

2002 6 4 5
2003 12 21 16.5
2004 4 3 3.5
2005 3 2 2.5
2006 12 3 7.5

So, inputting the 5 composite scores into the formula would give us the following:

( .125 x 7.5 ) + ( .225 x 2.5 ) + ( .25 x 3.5 ) + ( .275 x 16.5 ) + ( .125 x 5 ) = 7.5375

Thus, the 2006 Florida State team had a talent quotient of 7.5375, which was the 5th lowest score in the nation. Hence, according to the formula, the 2006 Florida State Seminoles had the 5th most talented team in all of college football.

Once I had determined the talent quotient for every team in the FBS for the 2006 season, I ranked each team by their talent quotient, with the lowest score ranked number 1, the second lowest ranked number 2, and so on. Then, I repeated the process for 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 seasons.

The logic behind this process is simple: the teams with more talent should beat the teams with less. So, the higher ranked “talent quotient,” the more talent a team can field in a game. In other words, the number 1 ranked team in talent, all other things being equal (they’re not), should beat the number 2 ranked team in talent.

After ranking every FBS college football team from 2006 until 2012, I compared these ranks to how the teams finished in the final college football polls. In an effort to make this process more objective, I averaged the final AP polls with the final USA Today polls to determine a general end of the year ranking for each team. The purpose of this method is to compare how a team performed relative to the talent on the team.

So after inventing a “talent quotient,” ranking teams by that invented number, comparing those ranks to the ranks of plausibly inaccurate year end poll rankings, I came up with the most overachieving and underachieving college football programs over the last 7 years…

*Drumroll*

The Most Overachieving Programs

Four teams stood far above the rest in regards to their ability to play at a level far above what the talent on their team would indicate they were capable of. Fans and analysts offer up a multitude of reasons for these teams’ success, such as: coaching, strength of schedule, and a plethora of other factors, both negative and positive, in an attempt to explain these teams’ habits of winning seemingly far beyond their talent level. Yet, no matter what your biased opinion may be, you have to admit, what these 4 teams have done with the talent on their rosters is nothing short of impressive.

BYU

4. BYU

Year

Talent Quotient Ranking

Final Poll Ranking

2006 59th 15th*
2007 59th 14th*
2008 59th 25th*
2009 56th 12th
2010 54th NR
2011 53rd 25th*
2012 51st NR

Cincinnati

3. Cincinnati

Year

Talent Quotient Ranking

Final Poll Ranking

2006 91st NR
2007 88th 18th
2008 80th 17th
2009 74th 8th
2010 67th NR
2011 59th 25th
2012 57th 24th

TCU

2. TCU

Year

Talent Quotient Ranking

Final Poll Ranking

2006 62nd 21st*
2007 62nd NR
2008 68th 7th
2009 71st 6th
2010 74th 2nd
2011 65th 13th
2012 53rd NR

Boise State

1. Boise State

Year

Talent Quotient Ranking

Final Poll Ranking

2006 75th 5th
2007 67th NR
2008 67th 12th
2009 68th 4th
2010 70th 8th
2011 73rd 7th
2012 71st 16th

And onto the more entertaining part of this column…

The Most Underachieving Programs

A.K.A. the laughing stock of college football. These teams recruit some of the most talented players in the country year in and year out, but over the past 7 years, they’ve had an extraordinarily hard time making that talent translate to success on the field. An important factor to take into consideration is that I have adjusted the formula that I used to determine these rankings to add more weight to higher ranked teams. The logic behind this adjustment is simple. Without the adjustment, a team that finishes the season ranked 67th and has a talent quotient ranking of 49th is a bigger letdown (or “underachiever”) than a team that has the number 1 ranked talent quotient and loses 3 games to finish the season ranked 17th. And, in my opinion, the team that has the most talent in the country, but manages to lose 3 games and wind up out of the top 15, is a bigger underachiever than a team with mediocre talent performing a little less than mediocre. Thus, this adjustment gives much more weight to teams with higher ranked talent quotients. So, without further ado, here’s your top 7 most underachieving college football programs over the last 7 years…

Notre Dame

7. Notre Dame

Year

Talent Quotient Ranking

Final Poll Ranking

2006 15th NR
2007 19th NR
2008 14th NR
2009 9th NR
2010 9th NR
2011 10th NR
2012 12th 3rd

Tennessee

6. Tennessee

Year

Talent Quotient Ranking

Final Poll Ranking

2006 9th 24th
2007 10th 12th
2008 11th NR
2009 14th NR
2010 14th NR
2011 14th NR
2012 13th NR

Georgia

5. Georgia

Year

Talent Quotient Ranking

Final Poll Ranking

2006 3rd 25th
2007 3rd 3rd*
2008 3rd 12th*
2009 3rd NR
2010 6th NR
2011 6th 20th*
2012 7th 5th

Michigan

4. Michigan

Year

Talent Quotient Ranking

Final Poll Ranking

2006 8th 9th*
2007 4th 19th*
2008 4th NR
2009 6th NR
2010 8th NR
2011 12th 11th*
2012 11th 25th

FSU

3. Florida State

Year

Talent Quotient Ranking

Final Poll Ranking

2006 5th NR
2007 7th NR
2008 7th 22nd
2009 12th NR
2010 13th 17th*
2011 9th 23rd
2012 5th 9th

USC

2. USC

Year

Talent Quotient Ranking

Final Poll Ranking

2006 1st 4th
2007 1st 3rd*
2008 1st 3rd*
2009 1st 21st
2010 1st NR
2011 2nd 16th
2012 3rd NR

Miami

1. Miami (FL)

Year

Talent Quotient Ranking

Final Poll Ranking

2006 4th NR
2007 8th NR
2008 9th NR
2009 11th 19th
2010 12th NR
2011 13th NR
2012 15th NR

*Rounded numbers

One last interesting fact to consider is that no team in the past 7 years has won a National Championship without a talent quotient ranking below 10th. So, while it is very possible for teams to crack the Top 25 without Top 25 talent, it is much more difficult to make it to, and win, the National Championship without elite talent.

So, in conclusion… as if you didn’t already whine about your college football team enough, I hope that I’ve provided you with further information to sulk about— the 7 years of your life that you’ve been continuously letdown as a fan.

————

By: Tyler Raborn

Johnny Manziel was the best player in college football last year. I will accept no other nominations. He won the Heisman his freshman year. No one else has EVER done that, and I won’t even begin to look at his stats.

I don’t remember seeing a guy with his playmaking ability. And before you start posting clips of Tebow and Cam in college, I would argue that they were pure, athletic specimens. Granted Manziel is an incredible athlete as well, but he possesses something beyond just raw athleticism. He has a knack for the big play. He has the feel, for me, of an offensive Honey Badger. He just always seems to be there to make the big play when his team needs it. Hopefully, ole Johnny Football will do a better job at staying away from trouble (although some of his off the field issues already, even before his success, concern me).

This is what I really want to talk about though – Johnny was the best player in college football last year, but at the beginning of August, he wasn’t even clearly the best quarterback on his own team!

Throughout the spring, it was a four-way battle to replace first round pick Ryan Tannehill: Johnny Boy, Jameill Showers, Matt Joeckel, and true freshman Matt Davis. Though, the battle seemed to really be between Manziel and Showers.

But Showers was the presumed favorite throughout the process. Even after the Spring game, everyone seemed convinced that Jameill was going to be the man. Even one week before the announcement, people were still predicting Showers to replace Tannehill.

Sure he was the only one on that list to have any kind of FBS experience, but still. We are not talking about just a couple of average QBs duking it out for a spot; we are talking about the HEISMAN TROPHY WINNER!!! Shouldn’t that decision be crystal clear?

Finally on August 15, Sumlin announced that Manziel would take the first team reps up until the Louisiana Tech Game:

“Johnny has performed the best at this stage and we will proceed until the season opener with him getting the first-team reps.”

Sumlin said in another statement:

“My policy is simple really; the best player plays. Competition is a great thing and we need more competition at all of our positions. All of our quarterbacks have competed well, and I expect them to continue to push Johnny.”

It is almost comical to look back now and read these articles from when the Aggies were unsure of who their quarterback would be. It is even more enjoyable to look back and read stupid people’s comments about the future unknown quarterback.

Here is a gem from @v2the4:

“…growing pains for Sumlin and his offensive coordinator, Kliff Klingsbury…they were spoiled the last four years by having Case Keenum under center, but at tamu, not only dont you have a qb, but you only have one WR to count on right now in Ryan Swoope…”

Man, you look like an idiot.

However, More than any of the idiocy or madness that seems to continually swirl around Johnny Football, this is my main point: he won the Heisman, but he also almost lost the starting position on his own team. Had he not come back in the fall and listened to his coaches, we may have never gotten a glimpse at the phenomenon that is Johnny Football.

Here is what Kingsbury had to say right after Manziel was announced the starter,

“He was making some plays in the spring but he was pretty reckless with the ball.”

Kliff would also add,

“He just came back to camp and was making really quick decisions, protecting the football really well.”

He listened to his coaches and made some changes in being more cautious with the football. It appears that is what pushed Sumlin and staff over the edge to go with the redshirt freshman.

So I cannot help but wonder… how many more potential Heisman winners did not take their coach’s advice and ended up on the bench, never to take a snap? How many potential offensive record setters just tried to rely on their talent and remained reckless, so the coach went with the reliable veteran instead of the young gunslinger? How many legends just never got a chance?

Now I realize this is a unique situation. I know that Sumlin’s system provides a great opportunity for unreal numbers. I know that you would say that Johnny would have eventually gotten his shot, even if not this year, and we would have seen then, but I still can’t help but wonder, “What if?”

If it wasn’t crystal clear for Sumlin that he was watching a Heisman trophy winner practice right in front of his eyes, then I would venture to guess it could have happened to another coach.

I realize this is all speculation. There is no way to ever know what might have been for these lost Heisman winners, or if they even exist.

I could very well be completely wrong, but I could just as easily be completely right.

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By: Caleb Brasher