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BARNEStorming: Otis is Eligible and other Thoughts Around the College Football World

BARNEStorming: Otis is Eligible and other Thoughts Around the College Football World

Gee thanks, NCAA. And we didn’t get you anything!

Friday, the NCAA handed Ole Miss defensive back Otis Reese a present. A much-belated present.  Eleven months after transferring to Oxford from Georgia, the college football legislative body has declared the junior eligible. 

So what, Reese missed games with Florida, Kentucky, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Vanderbilt and South Carolina. He gets the chance to play two, perhaps three regular-season games and maybe a bowl. Reese must think that is worth the move to a new school, COVID-19 protocols, off-season workouts and watching his teammates compete each week.

If he wanted something of substance from the NCAA, it would be an explanation. Why could Joey Gatewood transfer from Auburn to Kentucky and be immediately eligible? Why could his former teammate Cade Mays go from UGA to Tennessee and be in the starting lineup in the season opener?

We will wait for the NCAA to explain their decision.

We will think of it as our Christmas present from them. Of course, using the NCAA timetable, it will not arrive until May.


The COVID-19 crisis has hit several college football teams this season causing games to either be postponed or cancelled.

In the past couple of weeks, college football has not been the only victim. Poor CBS. The network carries a weekly SEC game but not lately.

Last week, CBS was supposed to air Alabama at LSU. Granted the Tide would have probably steamrolled in Baton Rouge, but at least viewers would have seen top-ranked Bama. Fortunately for CBS, it was also covering The Masters’ last week which provided some quality alternative programing after the football game was postponed.

Saturday, CBS was scheduled to broadcast Ole Miss at Texas A&M, but that game was wiped due to the Aggies not having enough available players. That was a pity. The number-five team versus one of the most-entertaining offenses in the country would have made for riveting television. This week, however, there was no major golf championship to air in its place.

So, America was treated to that age-old traditional rivalry of San Diego State at Nevada. No offense to those teams, but that game had the appeal of a Yoko Ono album.

CBS had better hope this is not becoming a pattern. This week, the network is in Tuscaloosa for the Iron Bowl. Should that one fall under the viral curse, CBS does have alternatives.

Instead of Alabama-Auburn, fans could be watching such barnburners as Kent State at Buffalo or Florida Atlantic at Middle Tennessee State.

Our Lady of Blessed Pigskins don’t fail us now.


Quick, who had bet that Utah would be winless going into Thanksgiving weekend? Not many people, because the Utes are a talented team. But here they sit winless.

Of course, Utah is 0-1 after losing to Southern Cal last week. That is correct, heading into the final week of November, Utah has played exactly one game.

On the other hand, we have Texas State. The Bobcats defeated Arkansas State Saturday to run their record to 2-9. 

One team has played one game this season, another 11 games. 

Texas State opened its slate Sept. 5 with a home loss to SMU and had not had a postponement all season. The Bobcats close out their season this week by hosting top 20-ranked Coastal Carolina.

After its first two games were cancelled, Utah has maybe three games left in its season.

That might be the worst effect COVID-19 has had on college football. While we are all living in a world of uncertainty, these young men’s uncertainty has been coming to fruition with each passing day and week.


Okay, people are probably tired of the need for a Group of Five Playoff rant, but look at the current situation. Like the big boys, where pretty much all the analysts have the same three teams in the playoff with a handful of other vying for the fourth spot, the group of five is in kind of the same boat.

Cincinnati and BYU are still undefeated, and both ranked in the top ten, so they would easily be in along with Coastal Carolina who is undefeated and ranked just outside the top ten. Marshall is also undefeated and ranked. Liberty’s undefeated season came to a halt Saturday when the Flames’ last-minute field goal attempt was blocked in a 15-14 loss at North Carolina State.

So, that could be four undefeated teams and Liberty could be in waiting for the fourth spot since it plays Coastal Carolina in two weeks. Also, out west San Jose State and Nevada are undefeated in a limited amount of work. It would have been fun to see that tournament.

Cincinnati vs. Marshall and BYU vs. Coastal Carolina in the semifinals would be fun to watch

Instead, one of these teams will get the Playoff Committee’s consolation prize of a New Year’s Six Bowl bid. The other teams will be relegated to minor bowls. Do not be shocked if these bottom-feeders take some middle of the pack Power Five teams to the woodshed in those said bowls.


Perhaps the Cougars might want to change conferences. BYU seems to really enjoy playing southern teams, especially from Conference USA and the Sun Belt.

Of BYU’s nine wins, seven have come against schools from Dixie.

The Cougars have three wins over Texas schools (Houston, UTSA and Texas State), two against teams from Alabama (Troy and North Alabama) one against Louisiana Tech and one against Western Kentucky.

Should BYU want to keep that Southern vibe, the Cougars and stay within the state. South of Provo, Dixie State University is in St. George, Utah.


One of the most cherished traditions of Thanksgiving is football on television. The Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys are staples on the Turkey Day schedule. There used to be a hearty menu of college football as well.

On Thanksgiving Day in 1971, Nebraska’s Johnny Rodgers made his famous punt return against Oklahoma to help him win the Heisman Trophy.

Before conference realignment, Thanksgiving also meant the annual Texas-Texas A&M game. Before COVID-19, the dessert of the day was the Egg Bowl between Ole Miss and Mississippi State.

Texas A&M has not played Texas since joining the SEC and this year, the Egg Bowl has moved to Saturday.

This year, what do we have on our college football plate? 

We have Colorado State at Air Force just after lunch, then New Mexico at Utah State in the evening.

That is kind of like being used to your Grandma’s traditional Thanksgiving dinner and instead being served a turkey pot pie.

About The Author

Steve Barnes

Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for, and as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers. He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio. A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series. Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time. He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk. Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.

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