Saturday Football: Tank for Trevor, Taulia's transfer and a college football czar?
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Good morning and happy Monday! As certain parts of the world get sports started again (the Korean Baseball Organization is playing and the German Bundesliga begins this week), it’s looking more and more likely that we’ll have college football in some form this year. There’s still work to be done, but there is plenty of positive momentum these days.
There are also plenty of storylines emerging that are worth discussion. From the next tank-worthy prospect for NFL teams to an Alabama transfer and more, let’s get started with this week’s top stories!
TANK FOR TREVOR?
Trevor Lawrence is considered the top 2021 NFL Draft prospect. Will teams tank to get him?
Last year, “Tank for Tua” was the hot topic heading into the NFL season. The Miami Dolphins were expected to be the team that tried to position itself for the No. 1 pick to draft Alabama star QB Tua Tagovailoa. Instead, Joe Burrow of LSU had perhaps the greatest season ever for a college football player and went No. 1 overall to the Cincinnati Bengals. The Dolphins didn’t successfully tank, winning five games, but they did scoop up Tua with the No. 5 pick.
Heading into the 2020 season, Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence is the hot name on the NFL Draft boards. Yes, we explored a “Tank for Trevor” discussion a couple of months ago, but now that the 2020 draft and the bulk of NFL free agency is out of the way, it’s worth revisiting this conversation:
- The Panthers and Buccaneers were the original teams mentioned. However, it’s possible neither of them will be in position to make the No. 1 pick in 2021, as the Bucs signed Tom Brady and traded for Rob Gronkowski. The Panthers, meanwhile, landed Teddy Bridgewater as their quarterback.
- What teams remain in the mix to potentially tank for Trevor? Well, Bleacher Report listed the Redskins and Jaguars as the most-likely contenders for Lawrence. Prior to the draft, Pro Football Focus named a number of teams. The New England Patriots — Brady’s old stomping grounds — could be an interesting fit. Would Bill Belichick ever actually tank, though? Hall of Fame QB Terry Bradshaw said he simply doesn’t see that happening. “Are you kidding me? I would never entertain that line of thinking. That’s not gonna happen,” Bradshaw said. “And who’s to say Trevor Lawrence is going to be the second coming? … I love this kid, but there’s no guarantees in this world.”
- Still, entering the 2020 season, the Jaguars seem like the most-likely fit. They have the required potential opening at quarterback, as well as a roster going through change. Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller had Lawrence going to the Jaguars with the No. 3 overall pick in his early 2021 mock draft. However, Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said the team won’t be intentionally tanking this fall. ″[Tanking] is like an attack on the player’s competitiveness,” Marrone said. “If someone asked me that question, I’d take a deep breath before I answered because my anxiety level would go up fast. You don’t understand why someone would even ask that. People don’t understand that players and coaches are fighting for their jobs to support their families. If you do have that situation [where a team finishes with the NFL’s worst record], I can promise you a lot of people are going to lose their jobs. The concept might be out there, but it’s not reality in the sports world.”
It’s still very early in this process, obviously, but Lawrence will likely remain a hot NFL commodity all through the 2020 college football season. He could potentially return to school for the 2021 season, but if he does leave early for the draft as expected, plenty of teams will be interested. Who will hold the No. 1 overall pick? That’s yet to be determined.
TOP 2021 UNCOMMITTED RECRUITS
Last week, we gave you the top 10 current 2021 recruiting classes, with Tennessee rocketing up the rankings after a huge week. This week, let’s put the spotlight on the top 2021 recruits who have yet to choose the school they want to play for.
So, who are the guys every top program will be chasing after over the next couple of months? Here are the 10 highest-rated recruits who have yet to commit (via 247Sports):
- 5-star DE Korey Foreman — No. 1 overall
- 5-star DE J.T. Tuimoloau — No. 2 overall
- 5-star OL Tommy Brockermeyer — No. 4 overall
- 5-star QB Caleb Williams — No. 5 overall
- 5-star OL Amarius Mims — No. 6 overall
- 5-star CB Tony Grimes — No. 7 overall
- 5-star WR Emeka Egbuka — No. 8 overall
- 5-star S James Williams — No. 11 overall
- 5-star OL Tristan Leigh — No. 13 overall
- 5-star OL Nolan Rucci — No. 14 overall
Only six of the top 20 players in the 2021 class have committed at this point. That means there’s plenty of high-level recruiting to be done over the next few months. Where will these top uncommitted prospects end up? Their decisions will have a huge impact on the recruiting rankings.
- Georgia QB Jake Fromm fell all the way to Round 5 in the NFL Draft. He had one year of eligibility remaining with the Bulldogs, so it’s worth wondering what could have happened if he’d returned to Athens. Saturday Down South’s Adam Spencer examines that interesting “what-if” scenario, wondering how Georgia’s new offense would fare with Fromm and where Jamie Newman potentially could have ended up.
- The NCAA is moving toward allowing players to make money with NIL rights. Some players will obviously make more money than others from their names, images and likenesses. Saturday Tradition’s Connor O’Gara broke down 10 future Big Ten stars who could make some serious cash when the new rules go into effect.
- Has it seemed like a lot of 2021 recruits are announcing their commitments? That has indeed been the case, as 247Sports analyst Bud Elliott discovered. A huge number of players are announcing their commitments, even as in-person recruiting visits are prohibited. Could we be heading toward a fall filled with decommitments? Elliott makes the case for that scenario.
- Over the last couple of decades, the spread offense has taken over. The LSU Tigers just completely revamped their offense in 2019 and won the national title. ESPN’s Bill Connelly took a look back through the history of the spread offense and named the 25 most important games of the spread revolution.
TAULIA TAGOVAILOA’S TRANSFER
Taulia Tagovailoa is leaving the Alabama program. Will he follow Tua to Miami?
The Miami Dolphins selected former Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Meanwhile, the Crimson Tide prepare to enter the 2020 season with Mac Jones as their presumed starting quarterback. Then, there’s 5-star freshman Bryce Young, who many consider to be Alabama’s quarterback of the future. With that writing on the wall, Tua’s younger brother, Taulia, entered the NCAA transfer portal last week.
So, what was the reaction nationally to Taulia’s decision? And, where will the former 4-star recruit end up next? Let’s take a look at the buzz around the younger Tagovailoa brother:
- First, we’ll take a look at the social media reaction to Taulia’s decision. Plenty of people immediately predicted that he’d follow Tua to Miami, potentially transferring to the Hurricanes’ program or to FIU. Here’s a sampling of the Twitter reaction from around the country. Some other predictions have him going to schools like FAU, UCF, USF and even LSU.
- Another interesting option could be Maryland, where Taulia has ties. Former Alabama OC Mike Locksley is the Terrapins’ head coach now, so Taulia could decide to play for him. Chris Hummer of 247Sports says that wouldn’t be surprising, as Locksley has a great relationship with the Tagovailoas.
- So, what sort of legacy does Taulia leave behind at Alabama? Well, that’s a complicated question. AL.com’s Joseph Goodman tried to answer that question. He writes that Taulia’s high school accomplishments shouldn’t be forgotten and that the Tagovailoa family will always be royalty in Tuscaloosa.
There will be plenty of speculation about where Taulia ends up next. Will he follow his brother to a school in Miami or carve his own path? These next couple of weeks as he makes his decision will be important ones for his future in the game he loves.
JUST FOR FUN
Today, let’s compare the college careers of the top-two quarterbacks taken in the 2020 NFL Draft — LSU’s Joe Burrow and Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa. We’ll give you five statistical categories. You tell us which of the two former SEC stars performed better in that category over the course of their entire college career. Got it? Here we go:
- Touchdown passes
- Completion percentage
- Passing yards
- Rushing yards
- Rushing touchdowns
Scroll down to see the answers to today’s quiz.
No one is sure what to do about the 2020 CFB season yet. Does college football need a czar?
With 130 teams in 10 conferences spread across 42 states, getting all FBS squads on the same page regarding the 2020 season is going to be a tough task. And, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it might even be an impossible job. Some conferences could decide to move forward with the 2020 season even while others decide to cancel games.
Some are wondering if the top level of college football needs some sort czar to be put in charge of things to make sure any 2020 plans are uniform across the board. Let’s take a look at that option, as well as some chatter about what people are saying regarding certain conferences going it alone:
- First of all, you might be wondering why the NCAA isn’t in charge. Indeed, NCAA president Mark Emmert said last week he doesn’t see football being played if schools are running classes in online-only format. That ran in stark contrast to what Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said the day before. Yeah, you can see why some wonder about the NCAA’s effectiveness in this matter. On Sunday, ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said Emmert has zero power to stop conferences like the SEC and Big Ten from playing football if they deem it safe.
- Could this be what prompts the Power 5 schools to break away? There have been some rumblings of the Power 5 conferences ditching the NCAA and forming their own football entity, and some wonder if the COVID-19 pandemic will potentially expedite that process. SEC Network host Paul Finebaum explained last week why that could happen and why it would actually be good for college football.
- That brings us back to the topic of a college football czar. What would that job look like and who would be a good fit? We at Saturday Football had a roundtable discussion of who would be a good college football czar. While some like Saturday Football president Kevin Duffy say college football should never have a czar because not being nationalized is what makes the sport great, other members of the Saturday Football staff named people like Oliver Luck, Steve Spurrier and Condoleezza Rice as potential czar candidates.
- Even certain Power 5 presidents think a czar could be a good idea. West Virginia’s E. Gordon Gee told Yahoo Sports last week that “we probably need to have a football czar to make those kinds of decisions.” An anonymous Power 5 AD echoed that sentiment, saying not having a national governing body makes returning to the field a big challenge.
As we’ve said before, it’s only mid-May, so there’s time to wait before making any final decisions. Things seem to be trending positively in this country, and with other sports leagues reopening around the globe, it might be best to wait a few more weeks before making any definitive statements on the 2020 season. Even if players can only return to campus by Aug. 1, and even if universities only partially reopen campuses, that could be enough for the 2020 season to start on time. We’ll see what happens.
Here are the answers to today’s Joe Burrow vs. Tua Tagovailoa statistical comparison game:
- Touchdown passes: Tagovailoa (87 to 78)
- Completion percentage: Tagovailoa (69.3% to 68.8%)
- Passing yards: Burrow (8,852 to 7,442)
- Rushing yards: Burrow (820 to 340)
- Rushing touchdowns: Burrow (13 to 9)
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“All of that talent, he’s certainly gifted. He’s got those young receivers now who will be sophomores. I think he’s one that could really make a nice jump. We saw Joe Burrow make a huge jump up. We saw it with Baker Mayfield. We saw it, obviously, Kyler Murray. Now we see Jamie Newman, the quarterback at Georgia. The first year there, we’ll see if he does well, how far he moves up the draft board.”
– ESPN NFL Draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. on new Georgia QB Jamie Newman’s stock for the 2021 NFL Draft. Can Newman skyrocket up draft boards during his one season with the Bulldogs?
TWEET OF THE WEEK
Minnesota football player Casey O’Brien has now beaten cancer an incredible five times! We can’t wait to see him back in a Gopher uniform this season.