witnessingAs we have discussed on here in the past, we college football fans are witnessing a sea change in the fundamental make-up of college ball. That is the prevalence of players transferring for convenience.
I say ‘convenience’ as opposed to a situation where a player has been dismissed from one progrm and thus having to go elsewhere to continue his college career. We see this happening more and more and even the NCAA has lightened restrictions regarding transfer with the institution of a “Graduate Transfer” not have to sit out a full season before he can suit up and play at another D1 school.
Like it or not this is the new normal in college ball now and we need to get used to it. Every fan will have their own opinion on this issue and we’ll discuss mine later on, but as we see happened at Pitt especially in recent years, there has been a real trend to search for and grab hired hands to start in place of younger and less experienced (and in many cases less talented) players extent on the roster.
There are a myriad of reasons players transfer but the majority see the handwriting on the wall as far as being a starter or two-deep player at their original university. But that isn’t the only factor involved – many times it is homesickness and/or dissatisfaction with the way the player feels he has been handled by the school’s coaching staff.
Those aren’t the only reasons but are, in my research, the top three motivating factors.
Right off the bat we Pitt fans can look at our last two above the average successful transfer QBs in Tom Savage and Nate Peterman and see pretty clearly that our coaching staffs recognized the need to replace the guy in the batter’s box.
In both cases that guy was recruited 4* QB Chad Voytik out of the state of Tennessee. Back in 2013 Paul Chryst knew that as a rsFR Voytik wasn’t ready to lead a D1 offense and so he brought in Tom Savage to take the reins for a single year.
That worked OK for us in that Savage had pretty good numbers as shown here. That allowed our Panthers to get to a 7-6 season with a win over Bowling Green in the Little Caesar’s Bowl. Which unfortunately was the last bowl game we have won.
Since that year we have had two more QBs come in to start in Peterman (from Tennessee) and now Max Browne (USC). Peterman’s success at Pitt was solid in his first year and star worthy his second.
Both of Peterman’s years led to eight win seasons and so Browne is now tasked with carrying that forward.
One may say that Voytik got the short end of the stick at Pitt and I feel for the young man, but there is no clearer indication of college football being less romanticism than a business than his case. College ball is very much a “what have you done for me lately” scenario these days and Pat Narduzzi felt that Voytik would not be able to do the QB job to his satisfaction. Of course this led to Voytik’s own transfer out of Pitt to Central Arkansas where he melted into obscurity and into the answer to a Pitt trivia question.
But we know it isn’t just QBs who transfer in and out of the Pitt football program. This season alone we have possible transfer starters in rsJR DE Dewayne Hendrix (Tennessee) and rsSO Chris Clark (UCLA) at TE. That is if Clark beats out yet another grad transfer in SR Matt Flanagan (Rutgers).
Flanagan himself is an example of a player who is transferring for reasons other than a starting position:
The news that Flanagan would play elsewhere in 2017 was first reported in November by NJ.com. At that time, he told NJ Advance Media he would pursue a master’s degree in research-based science.
“Being a biological sciences major, in order to pursue a doctorate degree — which is something I plan on doing — I need to get started on my thesis at the same university,” Flanagan said then. “In most scientific communities, it’s accepted to start another research project at a different school and keep going through dissertation.
The fact that he’s already been a three-time academic All-American supports that wise decision… so it isn’t always about football but also about using football’s available scholarship opportunity to purse and meet real-life goals.
Those players mentioned above aren’t the only transfers Pitt has had come into the program. Back in 2011 when Todd Graham took over the head coaching duties after Wannstedt was fired he promptly grabbed five transfers who he felt could help immediately.
Those were 3* S Ray Vinopal (Michigan), 4* DB Cullen Christian (Michigan), 3* RB Zach Brown (Wisconsin), 4* E. J. Banks (Notre Dame) and Brandon Felder (North Carolina). Vinopal was a three year starter for us and was an All-ACC honorable mention. As for the other four? Apparently Todd Graham was a talent killer here at Pitt as none did all that much here.
Remember also that TE Brock DeCicco took off for Wisconsin that year?
This season will an interesting one to keep an eye on up in Wisconsin as two Pitt transfers may be a large part of their offense. HC Paul Chryst had convinced RB Chris James to play his JR and SR seasons as a Badger and after sitting out 2016 he’s ready to play. This is very interesting as James was a 4* recruit when he came to Pitt and it now looks like he’ll be RB1 or RB2 there this season as Wisconsin has only two of its top seven 2016 RBs returning.
I’ll not be surprised if he lights up the joint up there this season. I remember watching him in practices and thinking he was the best RB on the roster not named James Conner.
Wisconsin also just got Rachid Ibrahim to transfer in as a grad. We’ll keep an eye on how he does also.
So these in and out transfers have been going on with some regularity here at Pitt and under our current HC Pat Narduzzi I don’t see that slowing down. If anything I think he’s enamored with the process and so far with the results he’s gotten – at least at QB – that will support doing more of it.
I believe some of us older fans aren’t as happy with these more frequent transfers than some of the younger fans might be. I miss seeing true freshman come in and I’d know that we would be able to watch their four year progression up thru the depth chart into their senior year.
That certainly isn’t guaranteed to happen any more and maybe that’s a good thing for the players themselves. Now they aren’t trapped behind someone for a full four years like they used to be when back in the day when you signed on with a school for four years come hell or high water.
Transfers rarely happened back then as it was a show of disloyalty to the program which offered you a chance out of the mills and mines to get the education your parents never had. Now it is just the business of college ball…
Notes: In the total redundancy department Heather Lykes sees no need for an on-campus stadium.
I just finished a good crime thriller titled “Thou Shalt Kill” which is set in Pittsburgh in the 2011-12 time period. The lead protagonist, Franco Patrese, is a detective who played running back at Pitt around 2001 or so before joining the Pittsburgh Police force, which I thought was interesting.
What was over the top was that the guy was supposed to also have won the Heisman Trophy at Pitt!!
The author, Daniel Blake, is a pseudonym for a man who is actually a Brit and who must have lived in PGH for some time because he does have the city down pat. He just doesn’t know his American football all that well.