A few thoughts to jump start your Thursday morning:
THINKING OUT LOUD ON A THURSDAY 1. All quiet on the UF transfer front: It has been a week since the Gators lost to UCF in the Gasparilla Bowl and other than Jacob Copeland announcing that he’s going to go to Maryland, it has been eerily quiet on the transfer front. Emory Jones announced that he was going to transfer prior to the bowl game, but he hasn’t put his name in the portal yet but neither have any other Gators. I’m of the opinion that once we get past the bowl games, the transfer portal is going to heat up nationally and locally. I am sticking with my expectation that at least 10-12 more Gators will enter the transfer portal and believe nationally there will be somewhere close to 2,000 when all is said and done.
2. Three possible landing spots for Emory Jones: I have no idea where Emory is thinking to transfer but I think he’s a very good fit for the offensive schemes at UCF, Liberty and Appalachian State. Now, none of them are power schools with monstrous stadiums, but they are all successful programs whose coaches and schemes favor a quarterback who can run the ball. Gus Malzahn recruited Emory very hard when he was at Auburn. His returning QB at UCF is Mikey Keen, who netted -36 yards in 2021. The best offenses Gus had at Auburn (2010, 2013, 2014) all had outstanding runners for QBs. When Malik Willis left Auburn, the knock on him was he was an inconsistent passer but a great runner. Two years with Hugh Freeze and Willis might be a first round draft pick. The App State offense functioned best with Zac Thomas as a dual threat. The Mountaineers need a QB desperately with non-runner Chase Brice graduating so EJ might be just what they need.
3. LOOK FOR A DEAL THAT WILL BRING TEXAS AND OKLAHOMA TO THE SEC SOON: Texas and Oklahoma are under contract with the Big 12 until the 2025 season concludes but there are plenty of folks whispering that they will be in the SEC as soon as the 2023 season. The stumbling blocks to early entry in the SEC are complications of the buyouts and CBS but ESPN can solve those problems with a bit of collaboration from Greg Sankey. The buyout for Texas and Oklahoma is about $80 million apiece, but if ESPN and the SEC were to kick in about $80 million, that would ease the buyout for both schools. CBS pays the SEC $53 million a year for broadcast rights and it’s not going to increase the money or revise its broadcasting schedule for a 16-team SEC. Solution: ESPN buys out the last year of the contract. Finally, ESPN offers a broadcasting deal to the new Big 12. It won’t pay out what the league currently distributes (about $38 million), but it would be better than waiting it out until 2025 and not having any kind of contract. Sankey and Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick can assure Bob Bowlsby that they will ensure the Big 12 remains a Power Five conference. All this is complicated, but very do-able.
4. WILL THE BIG TEN EXPAND?: If you notice, Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren has been rather silent lately, allowing fellow “alliance” commissioners George Kliavkoff (Pac-12) and Jim Phillips (ACC) to do all the talking. Warren needs Notre Dame in the worst way, but the Irish aren’t about to give up their independent status. He can keep the Big Ten status quo, or he can raid the Big 12 for Kansas and Iowa State, who both make sense on several fronts. Kansas is a football doormat but it gets basketball ratings even on weekdays that are better than ESPN’s Saturday night football broadcasts. Iowa State is a decent football program and the Cyclones are unbeaten and ranked in the top 10 in basketball. The Big Ten distributed more than $50 million to each school last year and that has to be enticing to both Kansas and Iowa State. Meanwhile Phillips and Kliavkoff are going to be stuck. The ACC’s rotten contract with ESPN runs through 2036 and ESPN doesn’t seem willing to renegotiate. The Pac-12’s media rights deal with ESPN and Fox expires in 2023 and no one wants to renegotiate.
5. BOWLING FOR DOLLARS: Two quick notes from Wednesday. Clemson (10-3) held on to beat Iowa State, 20-13, in the Cheez-It Bowl in Orlando Wednesday night and Oklahoma (11-2) whacked Oregon (10-4), 47-32. For Clemson it was the 11th straight season with at least 10 wins. Only Alabama (14) has a longer streak in college football history. Clemson started the season 2-2 but won its last seven games. Reports of Dabo’s demise might be a teensy bit exaggerated. As for Oklahoma, Bob Stoops came off the golf course to coach one last game when Lincoln Riley left for Southern Cal, earning win No. 191 in a Hall of Fame career made more special when son Drake Stoops caught a TDP in the second quarter.
OVER, UNDER, AROUND AND THROUGH THE SEC (FOOTB