By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard
We posted a blog earlier this called ‘College Football Free Agency’. It reflects the trend in college football in which graduate players transfer schools for one last season on the gridiron and one last chance to impress pro scouts. While a player like former Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams has a lot of experience and success behind him, many transfers -graduate and undergraduate- don’t and end up leaving fan bases crying in their college football alumni mugs.
Everyone wants to think of transfers, in particularly quarterbacks (QB), as the next great QB savior. Just like Troy Aikman did at UCLA or Scott Frost at Nebraska or ever Ryan Mallett at Arkansas. Really everyone wants it to be just like when Russell Wilson transferred from North Carolina State to Wisconsin and led the Badgers to a Big 10 title and berth in the Rose Bowl. Reality is Aikman, Frost, Mallet and Wilson are more of the exception than the rule. For everyone one of these guys there is a Danny O’Brien, Sam Keller, Robert Marve or some other highly hyped kid who made a fan base believe they had a chance at a conference title.
O’Brien was barely ok at Maryland and then transferred to Wisconsin where the Badger faithful had dreams of another Russell Wilson dancing in their heads. Bottom line, he wasn’t very good. He could never win the QB job and ended up transferring to Catawba. Keller is more known for leading the lawsuit against EA Sports than for his QB play at Nebraska where he transferred to from Arizona State. Marve was highly touted, played at Miami and then moved on to Purdue where he couldn’t stay healthy on some pretty awful Boilermaker teams.
The two most cautionary tales for fans should be those of former #1 recruits Mitch Mustain and Jake Heaps. Mustain started his career at Arkansas but transferred to USC after his freshman year. He played more games in one year at Arkansas than he ever appeared in at three years at USC. Heaps went from BYU to Kansas and then to Miami (he is originally from the Seattle area). He could never lock in a starting job at three different schools despite showing promise his freshman year at BYU.
Players transfer for all kinds of reasons but just because they transferred doesn’t mean they are going to fit in at their new school and lead it to victory. There are more cautionary tales than successful stories. While we’re probably only seeing the beginning of the transfer binge, especially when it comes to graduate transfers, it should go without saying that transfers are not always a saving grace. So for those fans in Eugene, Tallahassee, and Athens, just remember that the odds of this new transfer QB being the next Aikman, Frost or Wilson are pretty far off.