Potential for 2020 Supplemental Draft to be Huge

Supplemental Draft to the Rescue

Emory Hunt, FBGP Analyst

With talks of a potential abbreviated college football season, or a full season in the winter, it appears that the powers the be will have college football come hell or high water. But, with any scenario that’s tossed out there, especially with the uncertainty of Covid-19, there ends up being more questions than answers.

And for many potential 2021 NFL Draft prospects, the thought of not having a college football season, or an abbreviated season, or one that pushes up against the 2021 NFL Draft next spring, doesn’t sound like the best possible situation for them to be able to maximize their opportunities to increase their value as prospects.

In 1977, the NFL created a supplemental draft. It was meant for players whose eligibility had changed and hadn’t declared in time for the regular draft. In over 40 years, there have been a handful of impact players — the most notable in recent years being Josh Gordon. But it’s been pushed to the shadows, mainly; a quirk of the behind-the-scenes machinations that barely registers a blip between OTAs and training camp.

I don’t think it’s going to be pushed aside this year. Follow this logic with me.

Judging by the current timeline of events, I find it hard to envision a 2020 college football season happening. Spring Football has already been shuttered. Which means the ever-so-important winter and spring workouts have ceased. And with no clear date to return to campus, it’s safe to say that we won’t get productive summer workouts or fall camp done in time to realistically have a full season.

Professional ball differs from college ball in one major aspect: there are no classes. College football can’t continue until college classes continue. Professional ball has the luxury of moving a season to start whenever/wherever. One, because it’s professional and they have the financial resources. And, two, there’s a fixed number of teams. You’re talking 32 NFL teams vs. 850+ football-playing colleges from FBS-JUCO.

So with potentially no college football to be played this season, guys who are upcoming seniors or rising juniors and are legit pro prospects will be left without a season to play. They would essentially go a full year without playing football. And, more importantly, would go a full season without getting PAID to play football.

With that potentially being a serious conundrum for many potential prospects, the question then becomes: what could be a potential option?

Answer: The NFL Supplemental Draft

“So how does this thing work, Emory?”

Glad you asked.

The supplemental draft essentially runs like a silent auction, where teams have to bid the following year’s draft pick for the potential player. The draft works on a tier system, to level the playing field:

  • Teams with six or fewer wins from the previous season are put in Tier 1.
  • Teams that had six wins or more, but didn’t make the playoffs, are in Tier 2
  • Tier 3 teams are the squads that made the playoffs.
  • The order within each tier is done in a lottery-style system.

So just for example, if Team A was willing to part ways with next year’s first round pick for Player B, while Team B only offered up a second round pick, Team A would get the player. Because of that, many teams are reluctant to give up future draft picks for players, which is why you don’t see many players taken in the supplemental draft.

However, this year could potentially change that with the uncertainty surrounding the 2020 college football season. We could essentially see the NFL use the Supplemental Draft as a jump-start on the 2021 draft.

Having players who either considered coming out in April’s draft but ended up returning to school, plus players — like Clemson’s star QB Trevor Lawrence, —who would have more than likely played their final season of college football in 2020, eligible for the supplemental draft, could make this usually nondescript draft VERY interesting and exciting.

Because the Supplemental Draft happens in July, that gives NFL teams another two months to evaluate and study potential players for the draft.

There is one wrinkle — the NFL rule book uses language about a player’s eligibility having to change from the time they didn’t declare for the draft to the time of the Supplemental. If they wanted to be strict about this, the NFL could argue that none of these players’ eligibility changed, assuming the schools just view this as a lost season and hit reset next fall as if nobody advanced a year. Hopefully this doesn’t happen and the players are allowed to make this decision for themselves.

“But what about the upcoming college seniors who aren’t highly thought of yet? How do they factor in?”

Another great question, Emory, I’m glad you asked that!

Because the NFL (Now, I don’t know all of the legalities involving the NFLPA and how that would factor into this) can essentially adjust the rules of how they operate at any time, they could essentially run the supplemental draft like a second, full seven-round draft. It would almost be like draft ‘futures’, sort of like you see in baseball (I reached out to the NFLPA for some help with this question, but they declined to reply by the time this article ran).

As you know, I’ve personally scouted thousands of players. So while all eyes this week are on the actual NFL Draft, I like to be a step ahead, and have listed some of the more interesting names you could see in the July Supplemental, if things play out the way they will. I went ahead and dropped a round next to each player, so you have a feel of the Supplemental pick they might commend. Worst case?

This is an early look at some of the top 2021 prospects (NOT IN ANY ORDER. SO DON’T TRIP).


1. Trevor Lawrence, Clemson

2. Justin Fields, Ohio State

3. Jamie Newman, Georgia

4. Brock Purdy, Iowa State

5. D’Eriq King, Miami

Running Backs

1. Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State

2. Kylin Hill, Mississippi State

3. Travis Etienne, Clemson

4. Najee Harris, Alabama

5. Elijah Mitchell, Louisiana

6. Josh Johnson, UL-Monroe

Wide Receivers

1. Jaylen Waddle, Alabama

2. Rondale Moore, Purdue

3. Devonta Smith, Alabama

4. Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma State

5. Justyn Ross, Clemson

6. Tamorrion Terry, Florida State

7 Jamarr Chase, LSU

8. Marquez Stevenson, Houston

Tight End

1. Pat Freiermuth, Penn State

2. Brevin Jordan, Miami

Offensive Linemen

1. OT Penei Sewell, Oregon

2. OT Walker Little, Stanford

3. OT Alex Leatherwood, Alabama

4. OT Jackson Carman, Clemson

5. OT Samuel Cosmi, Texas

6. OT Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame

7. OT Jalen Mayfield, Michigan

8. OT Abraham Lucas, Washington State

9. OC Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma

10. OG Trey Smith, Tennessee

11. OG Wyatt Davis, Ohio State

Defensive Linemen

1. DE Quincy Roche, Miami

2. DT Marvin Wilson, Florida State

3. DE Carlos Basham, Wake Forest

4. DT Osa Odighizuwa, UCLA

5. DE Xavier Thomas, Clemson


1. Jabril Cox, LSU

2. Dylan Moses, Alabama

3. Garret Wallow, TCU

4. Micah Parsons, Penn State

Defensive Backs

1. CB Caleb Farley, Virginia Tech

2. S Trevon Moehrig-Woodard, TCU

3. CB Elijah Molden, Washington

4. CB Paulson Adebo, Stanford

5. S Richard LeCounte III, Georgia

6. S Hamsah Nasirildeen, Florida State

7. CB Eric Stokes, Georgia

8. S Sean Wade, Ohio State

9. S Caden Sterns, Texas

If you think ratings will be a smash hit for the NFL Draft, you can imagine the ratings for a televised Supplemental Draft.

Hopefully, we’re able to get the world back in order to have normalcy within our fall sports. But, this particular contingency plan would make things very interesting if it were to occur.

XFL’s Legit Following

The XFL Following is Something We’ve Never Seen Before
Alex Marinoni, FBGP Reporter

The sporting world came to an abrupt halt last Wednesday, due to the Coronavirus international pandemic. The NBA, MLB, NHL and other professional/collegiate sporting leagues across the country, suspended operations and will look to figure out plans to continue their seasons. The XFL (one of the last leagues to confirm) waited until the end of day Thursday, to not just postpone their inaugural 2020 season, but, end the season entirely. The XFL doesn’t have the luxury of waiting out their season and picking up at a later date because they understand that they need to do right by the players. Not only did every player get fully paid out for their preseason and five weeks of service time, but the teams allowed their players out of their contracts earlier to seek other potential opportunities awaiting them in both the NFL and CFL. It was an easy decision that Vince McMahon and Oliver Luck didn’t have to make, but just like how they’ve handled every decision this season, it was the right one.

It is a big reason why the XFL, in such a short period of time, did something we have never seen before in the sporting world; create a following and build a sustainable culture in just half a season.

Week after week, the XFL was dominating the TV ratings on Saturdays and Sundays, and the attendance at the games met or exceeded expectations. Despite the naysayers, who were quick to remind everyone that the ratings were decreasing slightly every week, they still averaged well over one million viewers every game. Attendance in some cities seemed to hit their peak, but other cities like St. Louis, were on the verge of putting 45 thousand fans in the Dome. Days leading up to games, through days after games, the XFL was trending on Twitter and this was without the help from the Adam Schefter’s and Ian Rapoport’s of the world. A collection of up and coming and eager reporters, like me, were the ones getting the stories, visiting team practices, interviewing players and coaches, as well as hosting cable TV shows and Podcasts. If you followed the XFL at all this year, then you are more than familiar with the names like Konnor Fulk, Bailey Carlin, Mike Mitchell, Jai Stokes, Danny Jones, Allison Koehler among MANY others. Did you know these names before week 1? These names, and the many others, were part of the reason why the XFL community as a whole flourished the way it did.

How can this happen in just five weeks?

All these people, including myself, and the rest of the Football Gameplan crew, believed in what the XFL represented: a chance. For a lot of these players and coaches, it was a first chance. Players like Jordan Ta’amu, Donald Parham,PJ Walker, Cavon Walker, and coaches Jonathan Hayes and Pep Hamilton got their first chance at the professional level to play for, and/or lead a franchise. Then there were the guys who got a second chance; the likes of Matt Jones, Cameron Artis-Payne, Will Hill and Jim Zorn. Players and coaches who have spent significant time in the NFL looking for a chance at a second football life. Lastly, there were the guys who were on their last chance, guys like,Josh Johnson, Matt Elam and Kevin Gilbride. These, among many other players and coaches who were the guys that the NFL didn’t need any more and if not for a league like the XFL, we may have never seen in the professional football world again.

Now, you might be thinking, “how does this gain the following the XFL was able get?”

Through three paragraphs of this article, I have not once said the words “CBA,” “Money,” “Super-Team,” “Rules,” “Antiquated-Ways,” “Arbitration,” Etc… These are just some of the words used to describe the problems going on in American sports today that fans are just sick of. The NBA has a Super-Team problem. MLB has many problems that can all pretty much be summed up in one word: antiquation. Between the rookie contracts, arbitration process and the terrible job they do of marketing their star players, MLB has felt more like the old grumpy grandpa having a hard time adapting to the times. The NFL… HA! Where do I begin?? They have more problems to figure out than both NBA and MLB combined. I will just use words like CBA, Franchise Tag, Holdout, inconsistent officiating, inconsistent discipline measures, among many others.

There are two things American sports fans love in this country: football and watching really talented people play football. The XFL doesn’t have contract or CBA problems; they have the opposite of an antiquated problem, as they’ve innovated many new ideas on the field; and the parity in the league through five weeks was about as close at it could be. There wasn’t any background noise, political statements or agendas being pushed across on fans. Every Saturday and Sunday for five weeks, all we got was eight teams playing for the love of football. The XFL took out the BS and listened to the fans, and laid out a product that not only they wanted to see, but what the players wanted to see too. When the Coronavirus struck the US and the XFL was forced to close its doors on the season, you could see and feel the utter disappointment at all levels. The fans felt devastated, but, thankful. The up and coming media personalities are sick as we consumed the XFL like no other, but, were thankful. And no one was hurting more than the players as not only was their first, second and final chance at playing football came to an unwarranted pause, but, were thankful.

The community and foundation that was built in five weeks is something no league could have ever accomplished, especially with the failures the Spring Leagues before it suffered. The following the XFL garnered is real, and is among the many reasons why the XFL will be here to stay.

Comments? Questions?
Tweet: @amarinoni10

Being Fair to the XFL Quarterback Play

XFL Quarterback Play is Actually Right on Schedule
Alex Marinoni, FBGP Analyst

After week 2 of the young XFL season, things are still looking as high as they were in Week 1 with
excitement from football fans across the country, and the solid turnouts.

However, the critics have started to creepily make their ways through the social media waves in Troll-like fashion over one subject: The Quarterback Position.

The gameplay all together has been surprisingly good to some, even the critics, but for some reason those same skeptics seem to be exceptionally critical of the quarterbacks across the league. Understandably, quarterbacks are scrutinized more than any other position in all of sports. It’s arguably the most important, and most difficult position to play. There is a reason, in terms of market value, why Quarterbacks are typically paid in a category all by themselves. No other sport has a position whose market value is greater than any other position on the field. So sure, it comes with the territory that all the extra eyes and criticisms are on them; But what the critics are forgetting, that unlike
the other positions on the field, in terms of the XFL, the Quarterbacks are probably the rustiest players on the field.

When you look around the league, names like Kony Ealy, Deandre Thompkins, Eli Rogers, Matt Elam and so on, are names of players that not only played in the NFL, but had prominent roles on some very accomplished teams. Even for the guys that didn’t get ample playing time in the NFL; the practice squad guys who were constantly being cut and traveling team to team; they still have had the opportunity to play the game. Sure, it may not be in the “every down” fashion that they are used to from high school and college, but these guys are still out there competing. This isn’t the same for the quarterbacks. As mentioned before, the quarterbacks have a much greater responsibility on the field. They are the guys that ultimately dictate the pace of the game, and must be the on-field manager for the whole team. If anyone needs reps, it’s these guys! But when it comes to guys like Cardale Jones, Landry Jones, Josh Johnson, Matt McGloin, Aaron Murray and PJ Walker, they have been on NFL rosters and have gotten some practice reps, but only three of them have gotten real NFL exposure. It’s no surprise that most of these quarterbacks have been the most consistent early on this season, but still not the sharpest.

Even with some of the NFL experience, it still doesn’t dictate when the last time these
quarterbacks have taken “real snaps.”

Let’s start with the guys who have played in real NFL games, who are starters in the XFL: Matt McGloin, Landry Jones, and Josh Johnson. McGloin took his last professional snap in 2016, where he appeared in 3 games and started one for the Raiders. In 2017, Landry Jones also played in three games with Steelers, but also only started one. In 2018 Josh Johnson played in four total games and started the final three for the Washington Redskins that season. So, the last time these quarterbacks took professional snaps in the NFL were over three, two and one year ago, respectively. Not one was ever seen as “The Guy” for their teams.

Next, you have the NFL guys who really didn’t get on the field in Aaron Murray, Cardale Jones and PJ Walker, who last time they started a game was for their colleges in 2013, 2015 and 2016 respectively. For a position that is so important like the Quarterback position, the XFL’s “Best” is being led by players who haven’t been the real leaders of their teams in years. Again, these are the “experienced” guys. Now, imagine the Dragons and Vipers who so far this season have trotted out Brandon Silvers, BJ Daniels, Taylor Cornelius and Quinton Flowers; players that are even farther in development than those listed above. Unfortunately for the XFL, these four, on top of a putrid performance from McGloin and the Guardians, were the highlight of Saturday. Now, does this mean that most of these quarterbacks are not capable of leading their teams this season? Absolutely not. Let’s try to remember that THIS IS FOOTBALL. It is early and just like in every league on every level, the offenses typically start slower than the defenses.

In the NFL, we watched the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Kirk Cousins and Russell Wilson struggle. After week 1, the Buccaneers were the 25th total offense, Vikings 26th , 49ers 27th , Seahawks 29th and Packers 31st . At the end of the year, Jameis Winston of the Bucs finished first in passing, Kirk Cousins, Russell Wilson and Jimmy Garoppolo finished in the Top 10 in passer rating and the Vikings, 49ers, Seahawks and Packers all won playoff games with San Francisco going to the Super Bowl.

The point is, sometimes teams just start slow.

Also, consider the fact that the NFL had just celebrated their 100th League year. All these quarterbacks noted have been the
franchise quarterbacks for no less than 2 years, with Wilson and Rodgers coming near and over a decade. These are established guys at the highest level, who are playing with guys or, are in systems that they have played with, and together for years.

Now imagine what the quarterbacks of the XFL are going through.

They have been together with their teams for maybe two months before the season, in a brand-new system, with brand new coaches, in a brand-new league, with new rules; major obstacles, right?? Factor in the fact, as mentioned earlier, that these guys are not established guys, but players who are still developing. Throw in a couple of curveballs like camp injuries to players like Landry Jones and Josh Johnson, that limits their reps in the short offseason; what would you expect the results to be??

Considering all these obstacles, to get the gameplay we have gotten from these eight teams, it is obvious that they are well above where “experts” expected. All around the league, we are seeing a better product from an officiating standpoint, and players are making a name for themselves. With the obstacles the quarterbacks are facing, it should make you appreciate what PJ Walker, Jordan Ta’amu and Cardale Jones have provided so far. Landry Jones and Josh Johnson are just getting back, and could provide top level play along with the big three.

Instead of wasting the time trolling, let’s try to enjoy what these five have been able to do and hope to see the Brandon Silvers, Quinton Flowers/Aaron Murray/Taylor Cornelius’ of the world continue to develop and make a real name for themselves.

THIS IS NOT THE NFL, but the XFL can be a damn good thing, if given the chance.

Question? Comments?

Tweet: @amarinoni10

FBGP’s 2020 College Gridiron Showcase Coverage: Marshals Group

The 2020 edition of the College Gridiron Showcase got underway on Saturday, kicking off the 2020 NFL Draft scouting all-star game circuit. What makes CGS a unique event, is that it is broken up into 3 different groups: Wranglers, Desperados and Marshals. The latter is mainly your small college group, who are given a chance to play into the aforementioned two groups. So, on Saturday and Sunday over 100 prospects competed in a practice on Day 1, and a scrimmage on Day 2.

We took a look at what to expect here this week in Fort Worth with our 2020 CGS Preview

Here are some of the highlights and takeaways from the 1st two days worth of practices

Marshals Group Standouts

DE Marques Ford – 6’2 248, Bethune Cookman: Ford was excellent throughout both days here, as he was disruptive in both 9-on-7 drills and in the scrimmage. He is one of the 14 players who earned a call-up to the Wranglers/Desperados group.

OT Jake Marotti – 6’6 290, Lafayette: During the OL/DL 1-on-1 period, I thought Marotti had a solid performance. I liked how his technique was able to stay consistent each time.

OT Jaylen Flye – 6’6 329, Lindenwood: Flye had himself a day in OL/DL 1-on-1. Tremendous punch, even was able to put a guy on the ground during one rep.

OL Zach Sammartino – 6’3 319, Dartmouth: Sammartino looks to be more of a guard than a tackle, even working on some snaps at Center to further add to his repertoire.

QB Jacob Park – 6’3 232, Missouri Southern State: The football just fires off of the hand of Park, who had the strongest arm out of the QB group. He was able to put the ball in very tight windows at all levels of the field. 7-on-7 is where he was able to shine.

QB David Tammaro – 6’1 210, Johns Hopkins: I thought Tammaro was able to quickly develop the timing with the receivers, which is very tough to do at an all star game. His placement on his passes were also consistent, giving his receivers a great chance to make a catch.

Other Players who Stood Out with their Play

RB Domenic Cozier – 5’8 181, Holy Cross
RB Jaquan Hemphill – 5’9 179, Hardin-Simmons
QB Donovan Isom – 6’3 250, Texas Wesleyan
QB Connor Kaegi – 6’7 221, Ottawa University
FB Case Robinson – 6’1 251, Lamar
TE Shawn Clark – 6’7 230, Monmouth
WR Joseph Gause – 6’2 220, IUP
WR Richard McCauley – 5’10 190, Kansas Wesleyan
WR Daylon Person – 5’10 176, Langston
WR Kentrez Bell – 6’2 173, NW Oklahoma State
CB Arthur Sherman – 5’10 178, Friends
LB Chris Hoad – 5’11 229, UT-Permian Basin
LB Nickolas Pridgeon – 6’3 234, Winona State
LB/S Jamal Ware – 5’11 199, Maryville College
DL Nick Wheeler – 6’2 255, Colgate
DL Tomas Wright – 6’1 238, Bryant
S Jarey Elder – 5’9 193, West Chester
S Artevius Smith – 5’9 179, East Tennessee State

Day 1 Practice Highlights: OL/DL 1-on-1

Day 1 Practice Highlights: WR/DB 1-on-1

Day 1 Practice Highlights: TE/RB vs LB 1-on-1

Day 2 Marshals Scrimmage

Florida A&M Watching the Celebration Bowl Closely

Rattlers Looking to Strengthen Claim of 2019 HBCU National Champions
Gene Clemons, FBGP Analyst

For the past four seasons, the HBCU National Champion has been decided at the Celebration Bowl, where the best from the SWAC, matches up against the MEAC’s finest. However, when Alcorn State kicks off versus North Carolina A&T this Saturday at Noon EST on ABC, they may be doing so dealing with the reality that the best HBCU team is not present.

Over the past two seasons, Florida A&M’s 12 conference wins is on par with both A&T and Alcorn. This year, they have widely been recognized as the best D1 HBCU team in the country, but they still are not in Atlanta. That is because they self-imposed a ban for infractions that occurred at the university before most of the athletes on the team was even there. As a result, their 7-1 conference record this season does not yield a recognized championship. Instead they have to watch that title go to the Aggies between the Aggies. The Rattlers also have to watch their Celebration Bowl birth be claimed by a team they defeated 34-31 in overtime.

But do they have a legitimate argument to be named HBCU National Champs? Let’s take a look.

FAMU lost to a better team than both Alcorn or A&T. Bethune-Cookman was one of the better teams in their conference this season, though the same can not be said about Grambling and Morgan State. Grambling had a down year by their standards and Morgan State only won three games all season. While A&T has the highest scoring average of the three (35.7) Alcorn and FAMU are right behind them (32.8, 32.7 respectively).

If the Braves are finally able to defeat the Aggies, then there will be a collective cheer for Alcorn State finally overcoming, and winning their first HBCU National Championship since this new format was implemented. However, if they fall again to A&T, there will be a conversation, especially from Tallahassee, that FAMU is in fact the best HBCU in all of the land because they hold the only head-to-head victory of the three schools.

So while you are watching the 5th installment of the Celebration Bowl, keep in mind that the results may have implications beyond the two teams on the field.

And if you’re Bowie State…then, well, that’s an entirely different conversation all together!

Questions? Comments?

Twitter: @geneclemons

SWAC and MEAC Teams Gearing Up for Celebration Bowl Run

Celebration Bowl May Soon Enjoy Parity
Gene Clemons, FBGP Analyst

As the North Carolina A&T Aggies prepare to participate in their fourth Celebration Bowl, and Alcorn State Braves get ready for their third, the rumblings around the HBCU landscape is that there is no parody with regards to the HBCU football elite, at least at the FCS level. However, this assessment would be wrong and is strictly based off looking at the current participants, and not into the individual conferences.

There are other teams coming and the question could quickly become, “Is this enough?”

Yes, while A&T has represented the MEAC in four of the five Celebration Bowls, it could have easily been a different team.

In 2015, the conference title was split between the Aggies, Bethune-Cookman, and North Carolina Central. A&T won the tiebreaker that allowed them to represent the MEAC. After a one-year hiatus, thanks to NC Central, the Aggies were back, bringing an undefeated record with them heading into the bowl game. In 2018, it took a win over NC Central, and a Florida A&M loss to Bethune-Cookman in the annual Florida Classic, to get A&T back to Atlanta for a second consecutive year.

This season, the only reason the Aggies are representing the MEAC in the Celebration Bowl, is because FAMU, who has the best record of any D1 HBCU, is on a self-imposed, one-year postseason ban. So, as a result, A&T won the conference title because of their 22-20 victory over South Carolina State. And to the larger point, had the Bulldogs been able to pull of that victory, they would’ve have represented the MEAC in Atlanta this weekend!

Although this is the third appearance for Alcorn State, the road to Atlanta has never been easy for the Braves. Fellow SWAC frontrunner Grambling, has been the conference representative twice. Last season, the Braves barely squeezed by a Southern team that was hungry to make their first Celebration Bowl appearance.

What has been impressive for both the Braves and Aggies during this era of the Celebration Bowl, is that they’ve done it with two separate Head Coaches. Jay Hopson led Alcorn State to the inaugural game back in 2015, and after he left for the Southern Miss job, Alcorn alum Fred McNair took over, bringing his squad to two bowl games. While in Greensboro, legendary head coach Rod Broadway took the Aggies to the inaugural game, and led them to the 2017 game as well; which was his last as a collegiate coach, retiring afterwards. Current Aggies head coach Sam Washington took over an experienced squad in 2018, leading them to the Celebration Bowl, defeating Alcorn and is hoping to repeat the same feat on Saturday.

Contrary to popular belief, the MEAC and SWAC have always been highly competitive conferences. And while there has been a little luck involved with A&T and Alcorn’s consistent presence in the Celebration Bowl, others challengers are coming.

The MEAC is a grinder. There are legitimately 4-5 teams that can win the conference every season. FAMU has no intentions of going backwards with Head Coach Willie Simmons leading the way. South Carolina State, with legendary Head Coach Buddy Pough, was just knocking on the door this season. And Head Coach Terry Sims at Bethune-Cookman is always hovering, proving to be a constant nuisance to both A&T and Florida A&M. North Carolina Central knows what it takes to get there, having played in the game 3 years ago and 2nd year Head Coach Trei Oliver had an impressive 1st season at his alma mater. Norfolk State Head Coach Latrell Scott has quietly developed a solid program, and his Spartans took both FAMU & South Carolina State to the brink this season. Also, don’t sleep on the Morgan State Bears, who are a sleeping giant in the conference, with Tyrone Wheatley at the helm, building a bully in Baltimore; And Delaware State is in good hands under Head Coach Rod Milstead, who has done fantastic work on the recruiting front for the Hornets.

The SWAC has definitely been wide open and now with Southern, under Head Coach Dawson Odums, and Prairie View A&M, with Head Coach Eric Dooley, joining Broderick Fobbs and Grambling as legitimate contenders in the West Division, as well as Alabama A&M, who has the Top QB in the SWAC, Aqeel Glass, who is also an NFL Prospect, returning next season. Quietly, Jackson State, along with Alabama State, continues to get better in the East Division and played with a lot of youthful talent in 2019, will make getting to Atlanta in 2020 a daunting task for Alcorn St.

There is no doubt that the Celebration Bowl has resulted in improved competition in both conferences. The additional national exposure gives FCS HBCU teams ammunition to use in the recruiting wars. That has allowed these teams to be more visible to recruits, and is going to continue to raise the profile and talent level of these teams.

So if you are tired of seeing North Carolina A&T and Alcorn State in this bowl game, then you might want to simply enjoy it this year, because there’s a good chance you won’t see these two again in 2020.

Questions? Comments?

Twitter: @geneclemons


CFB Playoff Picture Already Taking Shape

FBS Playoff Picture Looks Crystal Clear
Gene Clemons

Recently on September 20th, fellow Football Gameplan colleague Chris James tweeted, “Sorry college football fans, if your team isn’t Alabama, Clemson, LSU, Oklahoma or OSU… you have a 0% chance to win the title!”

It is a statement that can be disputed but can’t be taken lightly. A quarter of the way through the season, 6 teams seem poised to make a run at the title and five of them are on James list. An with respect to all other teams, the drop off to the next tier is not slight.

Unless Something Crazy Happens!

You can pencil in Clemson and Oklahoma unless something crazy happens. Clemson’s sophomore quarterback Trevor Lawrence is experiencing a slump to begin the season, and it hasn’t phased the Tigers. In fact, losing a bevy of defensive talent to the NFL doesn’t seem to phase them either. They just keep rolling along. Unless NC State or Wake Forest are able to catch them slipping or looking forward to their rivalry game with South Carolina, they will not be challenged for a seat at the proverbial playoff table.

Oklahoma has the top offense in the FBS… again, with a third different QB. But this time Jalen Hurts brings championship DNA and an ability to overcome adversity to the conversation. They will most likely not be challenged in Big 12 play, and that includes a Texas squad that continues to underachieve despite every advantage known to man. The offense is just too deadly with Hurts, and their defense has improved enough to punch their ticket.

Big Ten is a Big Two!

With respect to undefeated Penn State and Iowa, this conference is a two-horse race. Both the Nittany Lions and Hawkeyes control their own destiny, but that destiny includes a date with Ohio State for Penn State and a matchup with Wisconsin for Iowa. Neither team seems likely to emerge victorious.

That leaves the Buckeyes and the Badgers left to duke it out in the Big 10 Championship Game, with the winner claiming their bid to the CFB Playoffs. Both teams’ offense have been impressive, but the defenses have looked like the difference. Both are mature, fast and nasty. The difference will be which offensive superstar will carry his team into the playoffs: Ohio State’s QB Justin Fields or Wisconsin’s RB Jonathan Taylor?

In the SEC, there can be only one!

We get it, the SEC is good, again! But if the scenarios I laid out above play out, there is no room for two SEC teams this season. So, despite having so many undefeated teams in the conference, one loss spells doom unless everyone loses. LSU and Alabama seem to have what it takes to represent the conference when the smoke clears.

Both teams look better than Auburn, Florida, and Georgia, who are also undefeated, but have looked beatable so far. Besides, these teams will likely cannibalize themselves by the time the selection committee has to pick the four.

The concern for Bama is the run game, as it has not looked as dominant as it has looked in past seasons. That has a chance to improve over the season as the offensive line gels, and as the running backs get more confidence.

For LSU, the concern looks to be defensively. With multiple starters sidelined, they don’t seem to be able to shut down opposing offenses. This has led to QB Joe Burrow putting up video game numbers, because they are unable to sustain a big enough lead to tap teams out with the run game.

The deciding game could be when the Tigers and Tide meet on November 9th in Tuscaloosa. It could essentially be the playoff play-in game.

Questions? Comments?

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