School of (F)BS – Receivers

by Joe Azar

    The Flunks

    Ohio State: This is the school that gave us Cris Carter and a whole heap of overhyped flops after that. Santonio Holmes made us believe he was going to set the NFL on fire after his Super Bowl 43 MVP performance, but never made the most of his momentum after signing with the New York Jets. Turns out that Anthony Gonzalez (google him, you’ll remember) was just good because he had a guy named Peyton Manning throwing him the ball and while Ted Ginn Jr. has stuck around the league for a while, he has never lived up to his potential. In the past 10 years, three Buckeyes have been drafted in the first round of the NFL draft, but none have made a Pro Bowl appearance.

    Florida: Remember when Percy Harvin was advertised by some as this era’s next great wideout? While he did score a touchdown off a kick return in Super Bowl 48, Harvin’s fall from grace is still fresh on the mind of many NFL fans. Riley Cooper’s spotlight was short-lived and primarily for racist comments off the field. Overall eight Gator receivers have been drafted in the past decade and none have made the Pro Bowl, not exactly the best resume for one of NCAA’s most notable schools.

    The Aces

    Florida State: It was a tough call between the Seminoles and the Alabama Crimson Tide. Both schools have given the NFL threats in the passing game, but Florida State earns the nod with their consistency. The Seminoles’ production of good receiving talent goes back to the days of Hall of Famer Fred Biletnikoff, a marquee name for the Oakland Raiders when the silver and black were the premier team in pro football. Current Detroit Lion Anquan Boldin has made three Pro Bowls and won a Super Bowl. Their newest standout, Kelvin Benjamin, suffered a season-ending injury last season as the Carolina Panthers just fell short of a Super Bowl and has  shown how badly he was missed with his stellar play early this season. Oh, and Deion Sanders did dabble as a wide receiver for FSU too, because, you know, he’s “Primetime.”

    LSU: Odell Beckham Jr. was not off to the best start this season until Sunday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens, but there’s no doubt that his play the previous two seasons with the New York Giants made him a bonafide superstar. The former Tiger made ridiculous catches for the university before he made highlight reels in the NFL. Joining Beckham Jr. from LSU’s receiving school is Dwayne Bowe, Brandon LaFell, Jarvis Landry and Rueben Randle. Bowe’s best playing days are behind him, but that doesn’t mean that his days as the Kansas City Chief’s main receiver are forgotten. Landry is one of the main selling points of an otherwise lackluster Miami Dolphins team, LaFell is a serviceable wideout for the Cincinnati Bengals and while Randle is currently unemployed he did have his 15 minutes of fame with the Giants.

School of fBS:Running Backs

by Joe Azar

    Out of all the positions to dictate whether a product will fail or thrive in the next level, running backs are the easiest to determine. A college star can thrive in the backfield with a good offensive line, only to falter in the NFL if they don’t have the support around them to succeed in the next level (or play for the Browns). Most schools do give teams a pro-ready running back that can be valuable, but there are some universities that are infamous for giving out straight duds.

    The Flunks:

    Wisconsin: The BIG 10 teams stick to the same formula: a great front seven that can give their offense plenty of time to find a lane. The problem with the formula for the teams in the NFL is that they see the numbers produced by these players and bite on them too early, Broncos fans know of the accolades Monte Ball had and the former Badger was primed to take the starting job for Denver. However he had a harder time finding an open lane than I do solving algebra algorithms. Melvin Gordon hasn’t lived up to the hype either, though he may be the last silver lining left for Wisconsin’s mediocre products.

    Penn State: This one is a bit of an oldie, but let’s not forget the amount of high draft picks Penn State has produced to be flops. Ki-Jana Carter and Crutis Ennis where great for the Nittany Lions, but never turned out to have success in the pros. Curt Warner didn’t end up with a bad career, but nothing spectacular. The same issue that Wisconsin faced, Penn State running backs faced as well.

    The Aces:

    Alabama: Yes Trent Richardson’s career lasted the lifespan of a goldfish, but a school with serviceable starting running backs like (Fat) Eddie Lacy, Mark Ingram and TJ Yeldon counts for something. Don’t forget the Crimson Tide also was Shaun Alexander’s alma mater and he broke the rushing touchdown record in a season en route to an MVP and Super Bowl appearance. Love or hate the school, they are a university that should be proud of the talent they turn out of the backfield.

    Cal: Beast. Mode. Marshawn Lynch is destined for a Hall of Fame bust made out of Skittles after the career that had featured a Super Bowl win and if Pete Carroll was smart he would’ve had two. Other running backs from this school include C.J. Anderson, who looks to be the real deal in Denver and Justin Forsett. Not a school with a lot of the national spotlight, Cal is sneaky good at the running back position.

School of fBS: Quarterbacks

by Joe Azar

    College Football brings us a lot of talented players that are not able to replicate the same success when they attempt a professional career. Whether it be the system they play in, the talent around them or just a shift in attitude, some of the greats of a college campus flop harder than an NBA player when they reach the pros (looking at you Reggie Bush). Yet some pro teams continue to pick these player that come from a system that has proven time and again to produce lousy NFL talent. Is it 100% possible to predict if a player will be a failure or the next greatest of all time? Of course not, but patterns in NCAA history shows us that there is a way to make an educated guess as to which schools will give NFL teams the best shot of finding a valuable player in the draft. That’s where I come in. Welcome to my School of (F)BS.

    Rather than analyzing which school will have the most players drafted out of a certain position, what I’m looking for is which schools produce the most reliable players that teams can keep around for more than two or three years. This week, we attempt to tackle the most difficult position: the quarterback. QBs are normally the ones that have the most variety. Tom Brady comes from a college football powerhouse in Michigan, while Ben Roethlisberger played his college ball in Miami, Ohio. Despite the arduous task of finding a franchise quarterback, schools have historically given us gunslingers that have failed, and some that have found their way to Canton at the end of their career.

 

The Flunks

 

Oregon: Oregon is the perfect example of a college system that would never excel in the NFL. Chip Kelly’s up-tempo offense had its flashes of brilliance, but eventually the offense crashed and burned. Their quarterbacks are no exceptions. Akili Smith threw for 32 touchdowns in only 11 starts for the Ducks before getting drafted 3rd overall by the Cincinnati Bengals. He only lasted three years at the team before being shipped around the NFL until finally ending up in Europe at the end of his career. Joey Harrington was drafted third overall as well by the Detroit Lions. Like Smith, Harrington lasted only three years in Detroit before they gave up on him as the franchise quarterback. Marcus Mariota did win the Heisman back in 2014 and it’s too early to call him a bust entirely, but entering his second year there is nothing he’s shown us that makes me believe he’ll be an amazing NFL talent. The Ducks have often destroyed teams with their offensive power, but their quarterbacks haven’t been able to bring that power to Sundays yet.

 

USC: For everyone who argues with me about Carson Palmer, for every Palmer the university in California produced I can name you at least five that have turned out badly. Mark “Butt-fumble” Sanchez, Matt Barkley, Rodney Pete, Todd Marinovich and of course Matt Leinart were all given a chance to succeed in the NFL after solid collegiate careers, but none of them have been able to take advantage. Yet NFL teams still take their chances in the draft and rely on these QBs to be the future of their franchise. It’s not a smart investment as these players almost always seem to have their best moments in football while they’re in school.

 

The Aces

 

NC State: The Wolfpack isn’t normally the school many think about when it comes to a factory of NFL talent, but they are a lot better than people give them credit for. Before finishing at Wisconsin, Russell Wilson graduated from NC State and won a bowl game with the Wolfpack. Philip Rivers is a alum and has become the franchise QB in San Diego. Mike Glennon had a solid year as the quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as well. They don’t get drafted as often as players from USC do, but NC State does trump many schools in terms of reliable NFL QBs.

 

Stanford: John Elway and Andrew Luck are obvious examples of the talent produced at the school. Elway is loved by most here in Denver after winning two Super Bowls with the Broncos. Andrew Luck is the only beacon of hope the Indianapolis Colts have at the moment. But those two aren’t the only ones who have made a solid NFL career for themselves. Jim Plunkett won the Heisman Trophy in 1970 and is also a two-time Super Bowl Champion. Trent Green was never spectacular but he did become a very reliable option for the Kansas City Chiefs. Obviously not every player at the position who spent their college days at Stanford turned out to be excellent, but more than any other school Stanford has given NFL teams quarterbacks they can be successful with.

School of fBS: Restructuring the outlook of college football conferences

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A map of the new college football conferences | Joe Azar

by Joe Azar

Driving in Grand Junction is weird. The roads have awkward names like “24 ½ Road,” there are stops signs where there should be street lights and God forbid they put a green arrow on left turns. It’s like the people who created the town decided to just make up the roads as they went along, ending up with a sloppy and confusing system.

The way college football conferences in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) is arranged have a striking similarity to how Grand Junction’s roads are constructed. Whether it be due to money or….no it’s just money. Universities are placed slapdash in conferences they don’t belong in, leaving people scratching their heads as to why the Southeastern Conference is home to a team from Texas.

Just for fun let’s imagine we live in a fantasy world where money isn’t involved in college athletics and a university isn’t so desperate to find players that they hire prostitutes as part of a recruit’s visit (no seriously, that’s a real thing).

Some of the fixes to the conferences are simple, like the Big 12 actually having 12 teams. Other issues will take a little bit of creativity and wishful thinking; but hey, that’s what this article is about. It’s time to channel the inner sports nerd and change the landscape of college football.

Big 10

 

  • Michigan
  • Ohio State
  • Penn State
  • Michigan State
  • Wisconsin
  • Minnesota
  • Iowa
  • Indiana
  • Illinois
  • Northwestern

 

Not every conference is going to be completely turned on its head, and just because a team is technically geographically closer, doesn’t mean they are added to a conference they don’t belong in. The Big 10 having that exact number of elite college football programs would bring a sense of nostalgia to the old days where Michigan and Ohio State featured the best two teams in the country. Penn State is included due to their history in the conference despite being in Pennsylvania.

SEC

 

  • Alabama
  • Auburn
  • LSU
  • Ole Miss
  • Mississippi State
  • Georgia
  • South Carolina
  • Kentucky
  • Vanderbilt
  • Tennessee
  • Clemson
  • Georgia Tech

 

For the most part the SEC is pretty rock-solid in geographical terms. Missouri, Arkansas, Florida and Texas A&M are moved out in order to fill other slots needed in better conferences.

Big 12

 

  • Oklahoma
  • Kansas State
  • Kansas
  • Missouri
  • Oklahoma State
  • Nebraska
  • Boise State
  • Colorado
  • Colorado State
  • BYU
  • Utah
  • New Mexico

 

Teams from the Mountain West are joined by some of the conference’s classics to make the Big 12 a power conference once again. Don’t worry the Texas teams will be fine, big plans are ahead for them.

Pac 12

 

  • UCLA
  • USC
  • Oregon
  • Cal
  • Stanford
  • Washington
  • Washington State
  • Arizona
  • Arizona State
  • UNLV
  • Fresno State
  • Oregon State

 

California teams shuffle into the Pac 12 to make up for the loses and UNLV is added to a make the conference even at 12.

ACC

 

  • Florida
  • Miami
  • Florida State
  • Louisville
  • Wake Forest
  • Southern Florida
  • Syracuse
  • Boston College
  • Virginia Tech
  • North Carolina
  • Duke
  • Pittsburgh
  • Virginia
  • NC State

 

Nicknaming this “The Florida Conference,” only one major Florida team makes it out as a conference champion and the rivalries within the state get even more meaning.

Southwest Conference

 

  • Arkansas
  • Texas
  • Baylor
  • TCU
  • Texas Tech
  • Texas A&M
  • Houston
  • Rice
  • SMU
  • UTEP

 

What is the Southwest Conference? It’s a call back to the 1910s where the majority of Texas’ elite football universities battle it out to see who is superior. Now only one team can call themselves the pride of the state, and fans outside of Texas have the luxury of avoiding those crazy football fans, outside of Oklahoma, who keeps the Red River Showdown alive in a out of conference game.