College football's transfer age is getting the best QBs on the field, and the sport is better for it
Transferring is no longer a dirty word in college football, and that's for the best
Welcome to a new period in college football: The Transfer Age.
There's plenty of hand wringing about it, plenty of generation-shaming, too. There's concern that the floodgates are opening.
Well, bring on the flood.
On Wednesday, Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts announced his transfer to Oklahoma. As a graduate student, he will be immediately eligible, and he will likely be the third consecutive transfer to win the starting quarterback job for the Sooners. Hurts will also try to become the third straight quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy at Oklahoma.
But Hurts isn't alone. As he touches down in Norman, Oklahoma, former OU QB Austin Kendall is taking off for Morgantown, West Virginia, where he expects to find WVU's starting quarterback job waiting. Elsewhere, Ohio State will be breaking in its newest enrollee, former five-star Georgia backup Justin Fields. He got to Columbus, Ohio, just in time to see the Buckeyes' 2018 backup, Tate Martell, depart for Miami. Both are seeking waivers to become immediately eligible.
The flood isn't just feeding an elite few. All over college football, talented arms are washing up on shore.
When true freshman Trevor Lawrence won the starting job at Clemson, he sent Kelly Bryant and Hunter Johnson to likely starting roles at Missouri and Northwestern, respectively, where they will replace likely NFL Draft picks. Before Jake Fromm sent Fields packing for Ohio State, he sent another former Georgia five-star QB, Jacob Eason, to Washington. Both could be starters on College Football Playoff-caliber teams. Brandon Wimbush left Notre Dame to take over at UCF. Alex Delton has moved from TCU from Kansas State.
You may hear traditionalists ask, What have we done?
We've made college football even better.
Hurts is one of the best players in college football. He was also the second-best quarterback on his team. He now joins the brightest offensive mind in the college game as the missing piece on a roster poised for a third consecutive CFP run.
Ohio State has one of the top rosters in the country, one of few that is on par with Alabama and Clemson. It's saying goodbye to a likely first-round draft pick at quarterback, and with the arrival of Fields, it's saying hello to a guy who may be even more talented.
Aside from the opponents of Oklahoma and Ohio State, who loses in these scenarios? Who would rather see Fields taking a few situational snaps behind Fromm with the Bulldogs instead of spreading his wings on a playoff contender? Who is disappointed to find out whether Sooners coach Lincoln Riley can turn his third straight 'flawed' NFL prospect into a possible third straight Heisman Trophy winner?
The relaxed undergraduate transfer rules, frequency of graduate transfers and the willingness of talented quarterbacks to play the market has provided college football with a unique scenario: The best program in college football have a chance -- every year -- to be the best versions of themselves.
These teams aren't selling their souls to do it, either. The transfers aren't mercenaries or turncoats. They are kids that want to play football and compete in plays that matter. There's nothing wrong with owning that. There's nothing wrong with quarterbacks maximizing their window of opportunity and finding the field, just like there's nothing wrong with a quarterback who chooses to wait his turn and play his role.
Ohio State likely enhanced their offense last week. Miami got better on Tuesday. Oklahoma improved on Wednesday.
College football got better because of it. The best players are going to be on the field, not on the sideline.
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