WBB’s View of College FB & BB

College Football vs College Basketball

As you are well aware, college basketball has had a Final Four for decades since 1939.  College football finally followed and started a final four (Semifinals) format in 2014.

Here are just some of the basketball Final Four participants over the past decade:  Butler (2), VCU, Wichita State, Gonzaga, South Carolina, Oregon, Loyola-Chicago, Texas Tech. 

Here are all of the football Final Four participants since 2014:  Alabama (6), Clemson (6), Ohio State (4), Oklahoma (4), Notre Dame (2), Georgia, LSU, Florida State, Oregon, Michigan State

I believe you know where I am going with this article.  The interesting part of this is that the basketball Final four participants qualified for the Semifinals after winning four NCAA tourney games.   On the other hand, football teams like Notre Dame (2018), Michigan St (2016), Florida St (2014) and even Oklahoma (2019) and Ohio St (2016) looked like they didn’t even belong in the football Semifinals based on the way they performed.

There is no question that college football has become an elitist enterprise.   Note that of the names listed above of recent participants, Florida State and Michigan State no longer are considered a threat to crack the final four playoff teams.   On the other hand, Gonzaga and Baylor are currently ranked #1 and #2 in college basketball while blue bloods Kentucky, Duke, UNC, Michigan State and Kansas are unranked.  This would never happen in football.

I believe the reason for this is that college players cannot be drafted into the NFL until three years after leaving high school whereas they can be drafted into the NBA after just one year.  Thus, most of the basketball blue bloods have to restock year after year. 

Football programs like Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson continue to amass the best football talent around year after year.   And since these players are around for a minimum of three years, the rich are only getting richer exponentially… so the chasm between the Haves and the Have Nots just continues to widen.  Yes, the transfer portal has become popular in college sports, but it seems that best talent available are just traded among the elites.  Ohio St QB Justin Fields began at Georgia, QB Jalen Hurts moved from Alabama to Oklahoma, and Joe Burrows went from Ohio St to LSU.   In fact, three of the last four Heisman winners are QB transfers …. and the fourth (this year’s winner) is a three-year WR at Alabama.

And what is even more puzzling is how schools like Michigan, Miami, USC and Texas can continue to recruit so well but seems to be on the outside looking in.  Michigan just had two more four-star QBs transfer out of its program, the 7th and 8th in the Harbaugh era.   And in this era where offensive football rules the day, Michigan continues to struggle against the really good offenses despite being loaded with great defensive talent.  Its offense just cannot keep pace despite its talent.

I am sure the previous two sentences resonated with you POVers.   Pitt indeed looked bad against the two elite (Final 4) teams it played this past season, no doubt!  But despite these two blowouts, it finished 2nd in the ACC in total defense this year …  cfbstats.com – 2020 Atlantic Coast Conference Team Leaders  … and   third in scoring defense … cfbstats.com – 2020 Atlantic Coast Conference Team Leaders .   When Clemson and Notre Dame are not playing each other, they rarely lose to ACC teams.  In fact, neither teamlost to another ACC team in 2020.

When Clemson and Notre Dame are not playing each other, they rarely lose to ACC teams.  In fact, neither have not lost to another ACC team since 2017 – four years ago.  (note that Notre Dame plays five ACC games per season, 2020 notwithstanding).  Just more evidence of the elite football teams separating themselves from the pack.

Otherwise, Pitt continues to be competitive in the ACC.  The issue is that it continues to lose close games as it has for quite a long time.   This can be improved upon whether it be by the current staff or another, but the chance Pitt football can ever become a national player is extremely unlikely.

That is not the case for Pitt basketball

Gonzaga has been a basketball power for some time.  And while it recruits well these days, it still doesn’t get the top players like Kansas, Kentucky, Duke, etc. does.   But their players are getting to mature, becoming better players and better teammates over a 3 to 4 year process.  And when the seniors (or juniors) leave, you have people who have already been part of the program just step right in. 

I believe this is how Pitt prospered for much of the Dixon era.  Yes, they never made the Final Four but being an annual Top 20 program, and having two No. 1 seeds in a three-year period is certainly nothing to scoff at.  This doesn’t happen overnight and you need to bring in the players that fits your style of play …. At least that is how I believe Pitt did it 10-15 years ago.   Maybe part of the current problem is that Pitt has yet to develop any type of identity or style.  The current coach still may be swayed by the way his recent employer (and alma mater) does it.

Nonetheless, there is a decent chance that Pitt will once again become a well-respected basketball program whether it be with the current staff or another one.  It plays in one of the most respected basketball conferences, it has great student involvement and support, and the NYC/NJ area is arguably the best recruiting area, a place where Pitt has proven to be successful. 

I guess I am just trying to reinforce something that many of you all know.  Pitt can become what it once was just 10 years ago in basketball, but in football … it has a chance to be right there with the top teams in the ACC …. not named Clemson.  

This is not meant to be an endorsement or criticism of the current Pitt coaches.  Whether the current staffs should be retained is another issue that will always be debated.

Pitt’s Day of Giving

Today is Pitt’s annual push for donations to the university.

Here is the website where you can help Pitt accomplish our Mission Statement goals…

Lets do what we can – I’m going to tally up what it usually costs me to attend a couple of football games in a season with a bit extra so we can bribe a decent OC to come to Pitt.

I’ll leave this up or 24 hours or so but don’t forget about the great article by Richard just posted earlier this morning.

Along with that our HC just did a great thing for Pitt’s future football program needs…from a Pitt press release:

Narduzzi Family Makes Six-Figure Gift to Pitt Football Championship Fund  

PITTSBURGH—CoachPat Narduzzi and his wife, Donna, have made a six-figure financial gift to the University of Pittsburgh’s Football Championship Fund, which serves the program in such key areas as student-athlete development, facility improvement, technology and recruiting.

“I take great pride in wearing that Pitt Script on my chest each day as the University of Pittsburgh’s head football coach,” Narduzzi said. “This is an outstanding place with so many amazing people. Donna and I feel incredibly blessed to call Pitt our home.

“This gift is an expression of our thankfulness for the people of Pitt, especially the student-athletes we get to work with each day. Our responsibility is to give them the finest experiences possible—academically, athletically and personally. Donna and I feel truly honored and fortunate to be able to provide support for that mission at Pitt.”

The Transfer Portal; (Recruiting Part 2)

This is Richard’s companion piece to his article College FB 2021 Recruiting – Part 1

 and how it is changing recruiting.

On October 15, 2018, a new era in college athletics began – the introduction of the NCAA approved and sanctioned Transfer Portal (TP). Prior to the TP, the student athlete was at the mercy of the head coach, the school and the athletic conference where his school resided. Restrictions were placed on future school destinations. Loss of current scholarship was threatened. Graduate transfers had another hurdle to jump as their post-graduate degree had to be in a field not offered by their current school. Once all these hoops were jumped thru, it was up to the transferee to initiate contact with approved schools.

The TP ended all that. The potential transferee now goes to the school’s compliance office and asks to be placed in the portal. Within 24- 48 hours the compliance office must place his/her name in the portal. All restrictions have been removed. I imagine a transferee can still initiate contact, but he can also sit back and wait for contact.

As we all know, the NCAA has granted an extra year of eligibility for those on the 2020 roster. In Pitt’s case, I believe 12 scholarship players will take advantage of the extra year. Those players will not count against the 85 man scholarship limit. Pitt can end up paying for 97 scholarships.

At this time, TP additions are subject to both old scholarship limits (85) and sit out rules. Marcus Minor, a grad transfer is immediately eligible but is included in the 85 roster cap. Devonshire as a non-graduate is included in the 85 limit, but he also has to sit one unless an appeal is made and granted for immediately eligibility. At this time, the NCAA has not passed the “first-time” transfer rule for immediate eligibility.

Both types of TP additions are also considered as a recruit. As a recruit, they are also included in the yearly 25 man cap on recruits. That cap is easily breached. You can backdate a 2021 recruit to the 2020 recruiting season as long as the school has room under the 25 cap in the prior year, the recruit(s) enters school in January and the school has available scholarships open from the prior year.

Speaking of early enrollment, that is another trend that has ballooned in the past few years. Pitt has nine early enrollees. Some of that is due to the year of the Covid. But the trend started earlier and IMO with the introduction  of the early signing period. But I ramble.

The above is my understanding of the current TP. I do not have links to back up my thoughts. Just snippets of remembered info from reading articles. I can be wrong. If so, let me know.

I use 24/7 to gather my ACC TP activity. I find the Rivals TP activity lacking. I am not going to bore you with links and what I do. But basically, I gather what I need from 24/7 and use the Rivals recruiting ranking data. That way, I am always using Rivals as a common language.

24/7 has three years of data and some very limited data on prior years on FBS TP entries. The main time frames are: 2019 – 10/18/18 thru 7/31/19, 2020 –  8/1/19 thru 7/31/20, and 2021 – 8/1/20 thru /31/2021.  IMO, 24/7 starts there new year count on 8/1 to coincide with a date that is approximately in line with the start of fall camp. By 8/1, a team roster is set for the upcoming season.

According to 247 for the first year (2019), there was 1,720 portal entries. 2020 had 1,695 and almost seven months into the 2021 year another 1,719. The 2018 and 2019 numbers are usually in every article I read on TP entrees. Never thought about the numbers until the last few weeks when I started to read a third  24/7 article that gave a weekly 2020 update and that got me wondering.

If you divide 1,719 by 130 that is 13.2 PT entries for each FBS (P5 and G5) team. Then it dawned on me that includes walk-ons both preferred and regular. Then it made some sense. Those kids want to play, and someone may give them a scholarship at the FBS, FCS, or D2 levels. I almost went down a rabbit hole with a screed on 24/7 vs. Rivals recruiting rankings. You should be thankful.

The 24/7 site identifies a TP entrée as a “Grad”. I take them at their word. Then I got to wondering why some 2016 recruits were grads and others were not. I finally concluded that their status as a Grad depends on their status when they enter the TP. Some non-grads could be Grads by the time they physically enroll at their new destination. That means my data my understate the number of Grads transferring.

Now that I have over explained the TP, how has it changed recruiting? Here is a summary chart on 2021 (8/1/2020 – 7/31/2021) ACC TP activity. (Rivals ranking data.)

This chart my be out of date by the time this article is published. The TP is constantly adding new entrees and future destinations.

So far this year the ACC as a whole is averaging 8.8 TP entrees out. It is actually more but I do not include in my data any 24/7 name that is not a Rivals recruit.

How do I interpret this chart? First off, I have the advantage of knowing the underlying data. Basically, you have to know when a player enters the portal. As an example, let us look at Boston College (BC). None of the 7 TP entries were graduates. Three entered the TP before the 2020 season end. BC now know they have 3 2021 scholarships available and can increase their overall number 2021 of recruits (26 by the chart). They still have four slots to fill and they took in Three Grad transfers (the other TP entry in was a 5-star from FSU). BC is building by normal recruiting. 

On the other hand, Georgia Tech (GT) is using the TP as a recruiting tool. Only 16 new recruits and seven TP ins. Only one of them was a Grad. GT is using the TP as a recruiting tool.

In Pitt’s case, I only have one TP entry – Michael Smith. He was not on the 2020 roster due to a medical exemption but was a prior recruit. I know his history as a Pitt fan, I added him as a TP entrant. Since I do not know the medical exemption of other ACC teams, I decided to add him to Pitt’s list to be consistent. Pitt uses the TP as both a perceived hole filler (Minor) and a recruiting tool (Devonshire).

If you look at Pitt’s 2021 24/7 TP page, you will find five names in total. Besides Smith, Minor and Devonshire, there is D.J. Turner and Paris Brown. Turner signed with Pitt on 9/1/2020, played during the 2020 season and is not returning for 2021. Brown was a 2019 walk-on. I exclude walk-ons from my data.

What do four of the five teams with double digit TP outs have in common? Florida State, Louisville, Georgia Tech and North Carolina all have had HC changes prior to the  2019 season. There is a chance BC will join them this year in the double club and probably in the 2022 TP year as rosters shake out. I have no clue on what is going on with Syracuse. All of the non-Grad TP adds may be good moves if the NCAA first-time immediate eligibility rule is passed this year.

A huge problem with recruiting and TP activity looms on the horizon. At this time (for all teams), the expanded roster for the additional year ends after the 2021 season. Currently, the roster cap and recruiting caps will return to 85 and 25 for the 2022 season.

How does the old roster/recruiting caps effect Pitt for the 2022 recruiting season? By my count, there will be 12  members of the 2017 (of the 24-man recruiting) class returning for the 2021 season. Only Kenny Pickett will have used all his eligibility including his “free” year at the end of the 2021 season.

Without the “free” year, it was going to be a small incoming class with normal attrition and prior years grad transfers using up the last of their eligibility. IMO probably no more than a 20. If 10 or 11 decide to stay, that would mean only single digit actual recruiting class, not only for 2022 but also thru the 2025 high school recruiting class. Does Pitt keep them all or push them into the TP or do they get on with their life.

One idea being discussed, is a registry of players with a “free” year.  My understanding is that all teams would submit a list of all players eligible for the free year to the NCAA. This list would allow that player to not count against roster/recruiting caps in their “free” year on whatever team they could be on. It seems a simple solution but may meet resistance from some FBS teams (think teams with consistently low ranked recruiting classes that have no problem with pulling scholarships) that see this as an opportunity to upgrade their rosters.

The NCAA created a problem with the “free” year. I believe they did it with good intentions but did not think it through. Now they have to solve the problem.

Here is a link to the 24/7 TP data. The opening page is a listing of all players in the TP. By using the dropdown tab “team”, you can find that individual team activity.

2021 Football Transfer Portal (247sports.com)

Here is a link to an article link, I found on Pittsburgh Sports Now (PSN). It is actually a link to West Virginia Now and references TP activity in the Big 12.

Transfer Numbers High Across Big 12 Football | WV Sports Now

Once again let me know if you take any issue with my interpretation of what is going on with the TP, Recruiting and the NCAA.