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Del Olaleye: The week in college football

Nick Saban is never short on opinions. Even bad ones. Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

The week in college football:

The Kyler Question

What does Kyler Murray do? The Oklahoma signal-caller was drafted ninth overall by the Oakland A’s on Monday. Murray has waited a long-time to be the full-time starter on the college level after being one of the most decorated high school QBs of all time. That wait includes a transfer from College Station to Norman after spot duty at Texas A&M. His newly-minted status as a millionaire complicates his situation. Does the pull of playing college ball mean more to Murray than starting his professional career in baseball? Currently the prohibitive favorite to succeed Baker Mayfield, the Allen High School product says he will remain at Oklahoma and play football this season despite being a top 10 selection. Oklahoma opens the season against Lane Kiffin’s Florida Atlantic Owls on September 1st.

Pac-12 will require their teams to win 6 games to be bowl eligible

In 2015 the NCAA instituted a rule that allowed teams with a 5-7 record to make bowl games. I’m sure they have some long and drawn out reason for allowing under .500 teams to make bowl games but it really is pretty simple. Too many bowl games and the fear of not having enough teams to fill all the bowl slots led to the change in standards. The Pac-12 decided on Monday to require their teams to win six games to be bowl eligible. The conference is the first to create a rule that asks their member schools to exceed the NCAA requirement to play in a bowl game. As you might imagine, a coach or two isn’t thrilled. Mike Leach has been the most vocal on the matter, "If we had a 5-7 team lucky enough to make a bowl, they could probably use the practice and the players would probably appreciate the chance to play another game," Leach said. "Why should we limit opportunities when other conferences aren't?

Nick Saban on SEC transfer rules

The coach of the Crimson Tide was a bit on the defensive after being questioned about why he didn’t allow one of his former players to transfer to the school of his choice. The player in question is Brandon Kennedy. He’s a graduate transfer with two years of eligibility remaining who would like to stay in the SEC. Saban wants no part of that and has blocked SEC schools as potential landing spots along with future opponents on the Tide’s schedule. Saban cites an SEC rule as the reason behind his restrictions.  

"I don't think it should be on me," Saban said of the criticism. "If we agree in the SEC at these meetings that we're going to have free agency in our league and everybody can go wherever they want to go when they graduate, that's what we should do."

Saban wants no part of that type of player freedom and judging by his own words wouldn’t be a proponent of more flexible transfer rules.

"When we make a rule that guys can transfer whenever they want to transfer, how are we supposed to get people to do what they should do?" Saban asked. The coach known for telling players to move on to make room for new ones is worried that players may grab some control back. Delightful.


 

 


 

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Hiring DeMeco Ryans would be a good first step. Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images.

The Cincinnati Bengals are heading to its second straight AFC Championship game. After making the Super Bowl in 2022, it’s hard to believe the team is just four seasons removed from being in the bottom of the NFL with a 2-14 record.

The Houston Texans find themselves in a similar position to the Bengals a few years ago. Houston is in a transition stage following the loss of quarterback Deshaun Watson, JJ Watt and the flurry of other talent that defined the Bill O’Brien-led era.

The Texans are currently near the bottom of the league, but here is why they could be not that far off when it comes to turning the corner as the Bengals did over the last few seasons.

In 2019, Cincinnati was still led by Andy Dalton at quarterback. It was the first year under head coach Zac Taylor and the team had a lot of holes to fill.

After finishing with the worst record in the league, the Bengals drafted Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 draft. They used their second pick in that same draft to take a key playmaker in receiver Tee Higgins and used the third pick in linebacker Logan Wilson, who has started in every game he has played in for the Bengals this season.

In the 2020 season, Burrow showed flashes of being a star QB, but suffered a season-ending knee injury that once again saw Cincinnati picking toward the top of the draft. In 2021, it used the No. 5 overall pick to draft Ja'Marr Chase.

With the key pieces in place added on to other hits they made in free agency and in previous years’ drafts, such as selecting Joe Mixon in 2017 and signing former Houston defensive lineman D.J. Reader, the Bengals quickly became one of the top teams in the league, and Burrow has become the only quarterback not named Tom Brady to have a leg up on Patrick Mahomes.

While it is much easier said than done, the Texans are in position to do just as the Bengals did beginning in 2019. Houston has an abundance of draft capital, even more than Cincinnati had when it went through its rebuild, including six in the first two rounds of the draft for 2023 and 2024.

It will be on Nick Caserio to put together the best roster with those picks to put the Texans back into relevance, and it begins with the hiring of the head coach. Could DeMeco Ryans be the answer in Houston?

The Bengals were patient with Taylor after two seasons of just two and four wins. Whoever Houston hires this go around will need to have stability. Taylor has proven he was the right man for the job even after the shaky start.

The next two drafts will define what the next decade looks like for the Houston Texans. They are at a crossroads when it comes to which direction they will take. Even at its best over the last decade, Houston’s ceiling was the Divisional Round of the AFC playoffs.

Choosing the right quarterback and surrounding him with elite talent on both sides of the ball will be key. No pressure Caserio.

If he plays his cards right, it just might be the Texans competing against Burrow and the Bengals or Mahomes and the Chiefs on Championship Sunday in 2025.

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