Written by Zachary Gartin
With the NFL trade deadline coming to a very uneventful close, as it always does, I decided to play a game of hypotheticals and eventually asked myself the question that created this article. What if the NCAA had a trade market and eventual trade deadline?
Disclaimer here. I am by no means advocating for an actual trade market for college athletes. These student-athletes are not paid and by no means should be forced to relocate without a guaranteed income or a long-term contract. Logically it doesn’t make sense, which is why this exercise is completely hypothetical and will not happen ever. But that’s why the title says “What if”, so let’s have some fun.
If we are going to live in this hypothetical world, we obviously need to create some rules and address the problems faced by creating a trade market in college football. The first thing we need to address is the lack of draft or future capital. The closest thing to future capital is either scholarships or young freshman players. Scholarships won’t work as trade capital because there is no difference in value from scholarship to scholarship. A scholarship at Alabama is the same as a scholarship from Temple because they are both FBS-Division 1 schools. This means that young freshman is the most viable candidates to become future capital. This obviously would put teams with a good reputation ahead of the curve as they could easily replace players they trade away, while lower-tier teams in high divisions may be more willing to sell a good senior for young talent at key positions.
Another thing you could do to solve that problem is something similar to what the MLB does with “cash considerations”. I am not the most familiar with the system, but it basically means that you are giving the other team money for what you are receiving. Something similar to that MLB system would probably become a huge part of any college trade market due to massive funding discrepancies between teams. This, however, does not sound like a fun way to do this exercise, so we simply will not allow it.
One of the rules we are going to implement is the number of players allowed in a trade. Bigger, better schools (The SEC) would be willing to give up a king’s ransom for talented QB’s with the number of talented recruits they would be able to bring in every year. So I am making a 2:1 ratio for players. If you want two players, you can offer a max of four. If you want four, you can offer eight, so on and so forth. It limits what bigger programs can offer and would create the possibility of a more competitive market.
I don’t have many other rules to think of for this little exercise. I’m not going to be bringing forward a ton of options from smaller teams, so if you are a fan of Tulsa or Central Arkansas this is not the article for you. But if you like bigger schools like most of us, welcome to a wonderful, hypothetical world. Let’s get into five trades that would go into a WILD hypothetical college trade deadline.
Alabama gets Jaycee Horn
Alabama should be in a win-now mode right now. I know that’s really weird to say for a team that’s consistently in the national playoff picture, but think about it this way. Alabama will most likely lose two star wide receivers, a star running back, an experienced quarterback, two or three offensive linemen, at least two defensive linemen, a good linebacker, and at least one star defensive back. That’s a lot of pieces for a team to lose, and you could see them take a small step back next year as they retool. So why not go all-in this season and shore up the defensive side of the ball with a legitimate first-round talent at cornerback that you can throw at nickel or on the outside? I thought about Paris Ford or Asante Samuel Jr. here, but why try to get a second-round talent when you can get a better football player?
Now, why would South Carolina make this trade? Because they would be getting Bryce Young. A former 5-Star freshman quarterback gets a new home in South Carolina. This gives that program something to build around while they attempt to get back to being a prominent SEC team once again.
Tanner Morgan takes a trip down to Georgia
Minnesota just maybe isn’t good this year (they definitely are not). After a convincing loss to Michigan and then a close loss to Maryland and the second Tagovailoa brother, it’s time to look to the future as your star quarterback and wide receiver are most likely leaving for the NFL draft. So why not trade that talented QB you have for some tools at valuable positions from a program that is trying to get over a certain Rolling Tide?
Here, I’d have Minnesota send Tanner Morgan to Georgia for quarterback D’Wan Mathis and freshman defensive back Kelee Ringo. This would give Georgia a decently talented quarterback (at least better then Stetson Bennet) for their run at a national title while only giving away a quarterback they’ve already given up on and a former 5-star defensive back who was a part of a loaded 2020 defensive back recruiting class. Minnesota gets to see if a change of scenery will help the redshirt freshman quarterback, while also receiving a very talented defensive back, even though he just came off of labrum surgery. It’s a win-win for both programs.
Clemson gets the stud pass-catcher they need
If you’re Clemson, you are just trying to add to the wealth of riches you already have for your all-star quarterback. And to do that, you get Rondale Moore from Purdue. The fun you could have in the screen game with Rondale Moore and Travis Etienne is just absurd, as both are just demons in the open field. This would help propel this offense forward and allow them to keep up with the Ohio States and Alabamas of the world without completely relying on Trevor Lawrence’s arm.
Purdue would end up with the young stud at cornerback named Andrew Booth Jr. I know he is really good and Clemson would hate to lose him, but they would be getting an extremely talented wide receiver that would help them win immediately. Plus the Tigers are usually extremely deep at defensive back. Purdue would be getting a very good, young player with even more room to grow in return for a player that would for sure leave after this season.
Tamorrion Terry and Asante Samuel Jr. end up in…. Ohio State?
This is mostly me trying to get Tamorrion Terry and Asante Samuel Jr. out of the dumpster fire that is Florida State. They deserve so much better than a 2-4 record.
But other than my very selfish reason, Ohio State would be solidifying themselves as a top-three team in the nation alongside Alabama and Clemson. Asante Samuel Jr. could either slot inside or outside in that man-to-man defense and create a ton of plays when given the chance opposite of a talented (yet currently struggling a little bit) corner by the name of Shaun Wade. Then Tamorrion Terry would make a very dangerous offense even better, adding a pure size and speed threat unlike any that they have on the team right now.
In return, Florida State would need a king’s ransom for these two players. Mike Norvell would probably beg for Garrett Wilson, the talented Sophomore receiver, but I doubt Ohio State would part ways with him. Florida State needs at least one quarterback in this deal, and C.J. Stroud seems like a good place to start. A five-star freshman that would probably get playing time immediately on a Seminoles team that needs consistent quarterback play. Junior EDGE Tyreke Smith would be another piece that I could see being sent in this deal, as the Seminoles could get one or two more years of play out of him and his talent. Ronnie Hickman, a redshirt freshman, is a talented safety who dealt with an injury last season.
Florida State is in need of young talent that Mike Norvell can develop within his system, and a trade like this would be great for that.
Oklahoma gets some young defensive talent
I think we can all agree that Oklahoma isn’t competing for a National Championship after their very, very slow start to the season. This would be a team selling hard at any imaginary trade deadline for college football. Their best upperclassmen is most likely Creed Humphrey, the talented interior offensive lineman who will most likely be drafted early in the NFL Draft in 2021. So why not send him to Miami, where he gets a chance to fight for a playoff berth (however unlikely).
So Creed Humphrey helps out Miami, but who does Miami send back? Two possible studs on defense, of course! The first would be 4-star freshman Elijah Roberts, a giant at EDGE who could become a contributor quick at Oklahoma. Another 4-star freshman they could steal from Miami would be safety Avantae Williams, who hasn’t seen a ton of playing time this year but has a lot of talent and could be a quick contributor for Oklahoma moving forward.
I wanted to include some other possible trades, like Shaka Toney to UNC or Phil Jurkovec back to Notre Dame, but finding the compensation for those trades was a little difficult. I mean, what does UNC have that could help Penn State win immediately other than Sam Howell? And how do you compensate Boston College for their quarterback? Those two questions were tough for me to answer. I also didn’t want this article to get too long.
All in all, these trades may not change the outlook of this college football season, but I definitely believe that at least two years from now, a team that took part in one of these trades (I’m looking at you South Carolina) could take a step in the right direction and compete for a New Year’s Six bowl game. Of course, this trade deadline won’t ever happen for college football due to the numerous factors that I discussed earlier in the article. But it’s fun to dream sometimes, isn’t it Florida State?