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OXFORD, Miss. — Lane Kiffin’s soapbox was effective. For months, the Ole Miss coach has been preaching about how the transfer portal hurts by reducing the number of scholarships a school can give. The NCAA rules dictate a school can only provide 25 scholarships per year, including transfers.
With the number of players transferring – the Rebels have three who came in on defense in Chase Campbell, Otis Reese and Jake Springer – schools were almost forced to hold a few scholarships back in anticipation of players entering the transfer portal. That caused the number of scholarships going to high school players to be reduced.
It also hurt a team that lost transfers because the school did not retain the scholarship of the transferring player.
This week, the NCAA Division I Council voted to allow schools to still have 25 scholarships each year, but also up to seven additional scholarships earmarked for transfers.
The waiver is a good move for the NCAA, schools that lose players to transfer and especially to the high school players who will now have a better opportunity to earn a scholarship.
Former Utah, Florida and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer was up to his old tricks over the weekend and his current employer – the Jacksonville Jaguars – were not amused.
After the Jags lost at Cincinnati, 24-21, on the road, Meyer opted to not travel back to Florida with his team. Instead, he ventured to his old stomping grounds in Columbus, Ohio. It was there he was photographed suggestively dancing with more than one woman who is not his wife.
His behavior is not a total shock. During Tim Tebow’s senior season, the quarterback suffered a concussion in a game at Kentucky. Instead of accompanying his team back to Gainesville, Meyer stayed back with Tebow who spent the night in the hospital. Imagine being on that team and knowing the coach preferred one player to the rest of the team.
Meyer’s choices have always been suspect. Sure, he had the All-American boy Tebow on his roster with the Gators, but that same roster featured convicted murderer Aaron Hernandez and Janoris Jenkins who ran afoul of the law on more than one occasion in Gainesville.
After Jenkins was dismissed from the team after Meyer’s “retirement,” he transferred to North Alabama. While at the Division II school, Jenkins was quoted as saying, “No doubt if coach Meyer was still coaching, I’d still be playing for the Gators.”
He would have been and that would have been another poor choice by Meyer.
If there was a case for a Group of Five team to crash the College Football Playoff, Cincinnati has it. The Bearcats are ranked fifth in this week’s Associated Press poll behind Alabama, Georgia, Iowa and Penn State.
Cincy is 4-0 with road wins at Indiana and Notre Dame on its resume and if one of the teams ahead of them in the rankings stumbles, the Bearcats could finish in the top four. Of course, the team would have to win the rest of its games to even be in consideration.
That schedule has games with Temple, UCF, Navy, Tulane, Tulsa, USF, SMU and East Carolina, then a conference title game. Cincinnati should be heavily favored in all of its remaining games.
The last time the Bearcats lost was in last season’s Peach Bowl. After dominating No. 9 Georgia for most of the game, a late field goal and safety gave the Bulldogs’ a 24-21 win.
If Cincinnati goes undefeated, the playoff committee will have a tough choice to make.
A glance at this week’s AP poll looks a bit different than normal. There is no Clemson in the Top 25. Texas A&M is also AWOL. Weren’t those two teams supposed to contend for the playoff this year?
Instead of the usual suspects in the poll, it features teams like Wake Forest, SMU and San Diego State.
The SEC still has seven teams ranked. Alabama and Georgia still hold the top two spots and Arkansas (13), Kentucky (16), Ole Miss (17), Auburn (18) and Florida (20) are in the poll. Texas A&M and Mississippi State also received votes while not one media member had LSU on its ballot.
I have been close in my upset picks this season, but there’s the old saying about close only counting in horseshoes and hand grenades.
This week, I will go with a service academy team. Even though I served my duty in the U.S. Air Force, I will go with Navy to upset No. 24 SMU in Annapolis.
After all, it was a Navy doc that put my shoulder back together again and I recently discovered my roommate from Ole Miss has a daughter who is now attending the Naval Academy.
The FBS poll is not the only rankings that are interesting.
In the FCS poll, each of the top five teams – Sam Houston, James Madison, South Dakota State, Eastern Washington and North Dakota State – are all undefeated. Things could shake up a little bit as JMU plays No. 9 Villanova and South Dakota State goes to No. 7 Southern Illinois. I’ve covered a game in Carbondale, Ill., and it is a fun place.
In Division II, top-ranked West Florida had to rally from 20-points down to beat Delta (Miss.) State and remain No. 1., The Argos are followed by Ferris (Mich.) State, Northwest Missouri State, Slippery Rock (Pa.) and Valdosta (Ga.) State. Valdosta and UWF end the regular season by playing one another in Pensacola on Nov. 13.
In the Division III poll this week, an incredible 16 of the teams are undefeated. North Central (Ill.) leads the way followed by Mary Hardin-Baylor (Texas), Wisconsin-Whitewater, Mount Union (Ohio) and Wheaton (Ill.)
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 Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com 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.