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The State of College Football: The Opt Out Edition
Welcome to 2022 and the end of an amazing college football season. We officially have the National Championship matchup we’ve been…oh, we just saw these two play a month ago. Oh, well. It’ll be fun. This week I’ll look back at some of the top bowl game performances, players coming back in 2022 and the hot topic of players opting out.
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Offensive Player of the Week: Spencer Sanders, OSU: 371 pass yards, 4 TDs, 125 rush yards
Defensive Player of the Week: Terrel Bernard, Baylor: 17 tackles, 2 sacks
Freshman of the Week: Marvin Harrison Jr., Ohio State: 6 catches, 71 yards, 3 TDs
Coach of the Week: Kirby Smart, Georgia
CJ Stroud, Ohio State: 37/46, 573 yards, 6 TDs
Bailey Zappe, Western Kentucky: 33/47, 422 yards, 6 TDs
Hendon Hooker, Tennessee: 26/41, 378 yards, 5 TDs
Brian Robinson Jr., Alabama: 26 carries, 204 yards
Tyler Allgeier, BYU: 27 carries, 192 yards, 3 TDs
Rasheen Ali, Marshall: 20 carries, 160 yards, 3 TDs
Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State: 15 catches, 347 yards, 3 TDs
Wan'Dale Robinson, Kentucky: 10 catches, 170 yards
Jerreth Sterns, Western Kentucky: 13 catches, 184 yards, 3 TDs
Jaheim Bell, South Carolina: 5 catches, 159 yards, 2 TDs
Brock Bowers, Georgia: 5 catches, 55 yards, 1 TD
Michael Mayer, Notre Dame: 7 catches, 72 catches
Brock Martin, Oklahoma State: 3 tackles, 2 sacks
Will Anderson, Alabama; 6 tackles, 2 sacks
Tommy Eichenberg, Ohio State: 17 tackles
Nick Herbig, Wisconsin: 7 tackles, 2 sacks
Jaylan Alexander, Purdue: 19 tackles
Micah Bernard, Utah: 10 tackles, 2 catches, 15 yards, 1 TD
Ji'Ayir Brown, Penn State: 6 tackles, 2 INTs
Derion Kendrick, Georgia: 2 INTs
—Who are your top four teams for next year?
Alabama, Ohio State and Georgia return a ton of talent and will have no problem landing in the top five of next year's rankings. The real dilemma is at four. I could see Clemson rebounding with what was a young team in 2021. Michigan seems to have an offense now. Everyone loves Marcus Freeman at Notre Dame. Caleb Williams returns to OU but without Lincoln Riley. As of right now, and a lot could still change, I would put Clemson at No. 4. Everyone talks about how disappointing their season was but the Tigers still won 10 games and bring back their top players on offense and defense.
—Who should the Jaguars take with the first pick?
This one is pretty easy in my opinion. Thibodeaux and Hutchinson are very good pass rushers but the Jaguars have to address the offensive line. Evan Neal’s ceiling is a franchise left tackle and his floor could be a dominating right tackle. No matter who the Jags hire as their next head coach, the priority should be protecting Trevor Lawrence.
—Do you expect Rodgers and Wilson to be traded?
No and yes. I think Aaron Rodgers is a lot of talk and not a lot of action. Almost like Brett Favre and his retiring threats. Rodgers wants to spend his offseasons at home or traveling, not at Packers camp. He wants a say in who his teammates are and I think Green Bay will be more open to listening. I also think the return of Devante Adams would make things much easier for the Packers to bring Rodgers back. If Rodgers isn’t on the Packers roster next season I think it is because he retires.
Russell Wilson is gone. I think he let his feelings be known last year and a lot of teams didn’t know if he or the Seahawks were serious. Now the know and a lot of teams (Giants, Eagles, Broncos) have the picks to try to get Wilson. With as poorly as Seattle has played this season I expect a lot of turnover on the Seahawks roster and that starts at the quarterback position.
Since Christian McCaffrey opted out of his bowl game before the 2017 NFL Draft the college football world has been buzzing about players opting out of “meaningless” bowl games. The truth of the matter is I don’t really care either way. If a top prospect wants to play I think it’s great. If a top prospect wants to opt out I recognize the risk involved. But it is rough to see guys like Matt Corral get hurt in a non-playoff game, also known as, meaningless games.
I do think adding more playoff teams would give more players incentive to play in bowl games but it will not eliminate players opting out. But it is a start, and if we’re all being honest we want to see those players play one more time for their university. I would have loved to see Kenny Pickett and Kenneth Walker out there but understand that their draft status could change and they could lose millions of dollars just to play in the Fiesta Bowl. Another option could be bowl game bonuses. Maybe if some of these giant bowl game sponsors got involved more players would be willing to play. If you selected Pitt to play in your bowl game then maybe you could offer Kenny Pickett a “bonus” to play in the game and not sit out.
There is also the argument of “when is it ok for players to opt out?” It won’t be long before we see players opting out after their team is eliminated from playoff contention. In fact, it will probably happen in 2022 and I am just as ok with players missing regular scheduled games as I am bowl games. If your team is 4-7 and you want to protect your draft stock then go for it. It might suck when Bijan Robinson does it but I wouldn’t blame him at all.
Top 25 Returning Players:
Every year hundreds of top players leave college football and head to the NFL, but there are a surprising amount of great players that are not even draft eligible. Here is my look at 25 guys, in no order, coming back for another year. Again, not a ranking.
Bryce Young, QB, Alabama
Will Anderson, EDGE, Alabama
CJ Stroud, QB, Ohio State
Michael Mayer, TE, Notre Dame
Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia
Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia
Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas
Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State
Kayshon Boutte, WR, LSU
Tank Bigsby, RB, Auburn
Myles Murphy EDGE Clemson
Bryan Bresee, DL, Clemson
Noah Sewell, LB, Oregon
Eli Ricks, CB, Alabama
Braelon Allen, RB, Wisconsin
Caleb Williams, QB, Oklahoma
TreVeyon Henderson, RB, Ohio State
Phil Jurkovic, QB, Boston College
Jordan Addison, WR, Pitt
Hendon Hooker, QB, Tennessee
Anthony Richardson, QB, Florida
Paris Johnson, OT, Ohio State
Kelee Ringo, CB, Georgia
Dax Hill, S, Michigan
Malachi Moore, DB, Alabama
College Football Playoff
Alabama 27, Cincinnati 6
We all wanted to see what would happen if a Group of 5 school got into the College Football Playoff and I think we got our answer. Cincinnati was a damn good football team that deserved to be in the game and played just as well as most Power 5 schools would have. The difference in roster depth is too much for smaller schools but I still love the idea of letting Group of 5 schools in - with expanded playoffs. I think it will be awhile before we see a G5 school as qualified as Cincinnati. The Alabama run game was almost unstoppable - with Brian Robinson rushing all over the Bearcats defense. Cincinnati was able to show off their talented secondary though and held Alabama to under 200 passing yards and one interception.
Georgia 34, Michigan 11
No one can argue about Michigan being deserving of being in the playoff but they didn’t play much better than Cincinnati did against Alabama. Which is another reason why expanding the playoff is a good move. We aren’t going to see many upsets, but the ones that do happen will be amazing. Just like March Madness.
Georgia (-3) vs Alabama, 7:00 CT, January 10th, ESPN