The Picks: Free agency in college football

Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant (2) decided to transfer this week after losing his starting job.(AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Welcome to college football free agency.

You may not have realized it, but we were already in the middle of it for more than a decade since the grad transfer rule was instituted.

But this week, it got really intense as a result of the new redshirt rule.

Think about this — if Jalen Hurts leaves Alabama, and it seems likely that at some point he will, half of the College Football Playoff starting quarterbacks from last season will be free agents.

And to that I say — so?

It just makes college football more interesting. It may make purists cringe and academicians harumph a little louder, but I have been all about players having more rights.

The redshirt rule, which allows a player to play in four games and not lose eligibility, was the latest player benefit even if it was not intended to be that way. It was put in place so that coaches could get a better look at freshmen and could turn to them if injuries hit hard without losing their eligibility.

There were some alarms that went off and this week they were clanging very loudly when quarterback Kelly Bryant left Clemson and receiver Jalen McCleskey bolted on Oklahoma State.


Players were already transferring all the time. OK, it will probably never be like it is in basketball, but it certainly is the world we live in now. Not that there’s anything wrong with it.

I thought about this the other day — it must be fun to get recruited a second time. Shoot, that may be some of the allure of transferring.

Anyway, you know what would really be cool?

If I could start getting some picks right.

You think Nebraska hit bottom last week as Scott Frost said? Maybe, maybe not. I’m hoping I reached the depths as well.

It was a miserable 5-5 for Dr. Football and as a result, The Picks are 25-15 for the year and worried about being replaced by a picker-in-waiting.

FLORIDA AT MISSISSIPPI STATE: Yeah, I know. Please pick Mississippi State. That joke never gets old. Look, Dr. Football would never pick a Florida game based on how it might affect karma or superstition. I don’t believe in luck. But I will be wearing the same shirt Saturday night I wore for all three Gator wins. Just coincidence. Here’s the deal — I think Florida is taking small steps in the right direction, but the Gators are going to run into a buzzsaw that won’t turn it over six times in Starkville. Mississippi State, 28-24.

OHIO STATE AT PENN STATE: For all of the Buckeye haters out there, this is going to be another rough week. While the Penn State atmosphere is one of the best in football, the Nittanies have yet to impress. James Franklin may want to delete this result from his cell phone. Ohio State, 35-21.

SOUTH CAROLINA AT KENTUCKY: I think there are a lot of Gator fans rooting for Kentucky this week, not because of any animosity toward Will Muschamp, but because UF looks better with every Wildcat win. That is a sentence I never thought I’d be writing. Kentucky, 21-20.

STANFORD AT NOTRE DAME: Every game is its own game, I keep telling myself, so last week’s miracle win for the Cardinal has nothing to do with this week. Except it got me to .500. Notre Dame, 34-29.

SYRACUSE AT CLEMSON: All right, Sunshine, it’s your team now. Let’s see what you got. Clemson, 38-20.

OLE MISS AT LSU: I still don’t know what to think about LSU except that it plays down to the level of the opponent. Must be a Cajun thing. LSU, 41-21.

TENNESSEE AT GEORGIA: Look, this is a big game. Have you no knowledge of the history of this rivalry? You can throw out the records, right? (Thank goodness for a breather). Georgia 51-0.

WEST VIRGINIA AT TEXAS TECH: Will Grier’s Heisman Trophy campaign must be salivating. West Virginia, 50-42.

ARKANSAS-TEXAS A&M: What do you mean I’m padding my record by picking another easy one? It’s an SEC game in a neutral site. Neutral. Kind of like where Arkansas is stuck. A&M, 38-10.

FSU AT LOUISVILLE: It just shows you how cyclical college football is that only two years ago GameDay was in Louisville for this game between two top-10 teams and now it’s two teams who are a combined 0-4 against Power Five teams. Blechh. FSU, 23-20.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at And follow at


  1. Will be rooting for UK to lose until we overtake them in the SEC East Standings. The goal every year is to win the East first. We cannot win the East unless UK loses. Not interested in style points, interested in winning the East and going to Atlanta. If UK loses we control our destiny again.

    Go Gators! Chomp some cowbell!

    • I think a division championship is a pipe dream this season. UK would need to lose 2 SEC games and the Gators would need to go undefeated to move ahead of them, since they hold the tie breaker. I can certainly see UK losing twice, but I just don’t see us going undefeated. It’s a great thought though.

      • The dream is alive until it’s dead!

        I agree it would be a minor football miracle to win the East. But to do it Uk needs two losses. So my main point was I will be rooting for them to lose, regardless of the style points it may give us if they beat USC. Which Pat mentioned in his UK versus USC pick.

        • I hear ya. I’m pretty sure UK will lose to UGA and A&M. They very well could lose this weekend too. I’m with you though, I could care less if they lose the rest of their games and how it would look for the Gators. As long as the Gators keep winning, that loss won’t really matter.

  2. For the record, I’m all for giving the players more transfer rights. The schools make plenty of money from them. I realize that they are getting the opportunity to receive a great education in return for their services but just like a coach under contract has the freedom to move, so should the players have that freedom.

  3. You say and talk about winning, and want to give players an opportunity to run off. Don’t make much sense, you recruit him, train him, and let walk out the door. All that kissing and he goes down the street with your lip prints on his tail. Not in favor of all this jumping around.

  4. I just like u our chances better with Reese back at MLB against MSU. I’m picking UF in a straight-up win. MSU is a good team, but had their own weaknesses exposed by UK, mainly OL and Fitzgerald’s shaky passing game. He’s obviously not as well coached by Moorehead as he was by Mullen and Johnson. UF in s straight-up win.

    Just can’t shake this feeling about ‘Ole Miss and LSU, but something just tells me ‘Ole Miss goes in their with their pass happy offense and stuns LSU.

    UL and fsu? Both are 2-2 teams but I’m giving the win to the home team here. UL.

  5. Again Dr. Football picks against Florida. Hum. I’ve also notice that he and Pat don’t wear Gator gear. I like the free agency for the college ranks. It gives players another chance to play somewhere else. After all who wants to sit on the bench, and maybe they get a chance to beat the team they left……………

  6. It’s a double bonanza when Pat and his best bud Robbie both pick against the Gators. I like them personally. However, they seem to understand less about the team on their doorstep than most of the rest of us. Ouch! Maybe that’s a bit strong but you wonder. As for this weekend, MSU has a secondary that will help Franks have his biggest passing game. Fitzgerald has indeed regressed as a passer without Mullen there, and I believe Mullen is a superior coach with a better staff compared to Moorhead. And Mullen, Grantham and most of our staff know the Bulldogs roster better than Moorhead does at this stage.

    It will be Moorhead with something to prove, that he’s a better head coach than his predecessor, and it will be the Bulldogs who will come out wound too tightly. The Gators will take the field confident and loose. Gators will win.

    Louisville over FSU. Sad times in Tally. UK over Will’s nochamp’s Gamecocks. The Cats’ dream lives a little longer.

  7. The Gators need more than 9 pass completions and their pass completion percentage needs to be over 55 %
    and their first down percentage needs to be better than 30%… to win this game…once again Franks needs to get rid of the ball quicker and say in the pocket and not run towards the side line….so far, through 4 games every time he runs out of the pocket towards the sidelines about 12 times and he’s 1 for 12, which, was the touchdown pass to Swain last week…not a very good percentage…The QB situation is scary with Franks…his development is coming along, but very slowly…he is just not very good on critical 3rd downs because he is just not accurate enough on a consistent basis…If he can avoid mistakes….we should have no problem winning this game in a big way…but, the problem is you just never know which Franks is going to up…the guy who throws into double coverage and gets intercepted or fumbles…or the guy that shows up who makes good decision and spots open WR’s…he usually has open an receiver on just about every play…these guys are now running great routes…but Franks just can’t seem to find them…Gonzales has done a great job with this group of talented RW’s …he’s done an especially great job with Swain who for the past two years knew only 2 routes…a 3 yard bubble screen and a 2-3 yard crossing pattern.

    The offensive line has done a great job this year with their pass blocking and let’s hope it continues…also a very big and talented group…It was encouraging to see Scarlett break to the outside rather than trying to run straight through the hole…..the gators have a chance to win the next 3 games…they are certainly talented enough all all positions,,,it just depends on which Franks shows up…he;s the game changer…bad or good…it looks like Jones will red shirt this year…the coaches are satisfied with both Franks and Trask and using Toney in the wildcat position when needed….Jones has just not developed with his passing and his defensive reads at this point…he’s still a year away and there is no sense in wasting a year for a few plays per game when you have Toney who can achieve the same thing as Jones…The defense should play well with Reese back at middle LB.

    • Good analysis of the QB situation, especially as it relates to Toney being able to provide whatever Jones would have to offer at this point in his development. However, the 4 game rule makes it possible we could see a little more of Jones and still have him red shirt. I think Franks has improved to the point where he’s not making critical mistakes, turning the ball over, or running out of bounds for a loss instead of throwing the ball away. He may only be a game manager at this point, but right now, that’s all the Gators need from him. I think the UGA game is the only one where they would need him to make a lot of plays in order to win.

  8. The Gators’ offensive line faces a daunting task lining up against MSU’s defensive line. That’s a big worry. I feel better about our defensive front and linebackers, and the dbs seem to be playing with a lot of intensity. Winning at their place would be a big step up. It will take some good fortune and avoiding mistakes. This one seems unpredictable but Coach Mullen has the Gators believing they can beat anybody. I don’t care what the final score is, if it’s a W.

  9. Weirdly enough, Kentucky is the team Muschamp always dreamed of building. I think one thing Champ always understood is that there is no defensive scheme against getting blown off the ball and run over. Howver, I do think Kemticky has been playing above their level, and I think Muschchamp finds a way to force Kentucky’s QB into some big mistakes,

    Likewise, we find a way to win. From what I have seen, MSU is prone to self-destruction. We’ve been playing more sound football, getting better every week, while MSU is moving in the wrong direction. It will be up to Mullen to call a great game. MSU can clog up the run, so we will need to find some ways to go over and around them. I feel like we will see more run pass option.

  10. Dooley – Gators will “run into a buzz saw”? Really??? What MSU team have you been watching? They are a good football team (at times), but hardly “buzz saw” quality (see Bama and UGA). Mullen can and will coach circles around Moorhead (OK by the size of him they will have to be BIG circles). Any emotional edge the “buzz saw” has will be dulled by the second quarter, and the cowbells will be about as prominent as Rocky Top became last week. You still suffer from “Kentuckyitis”, and your picks this season seem to indicate that you are losing your grasp of college football. I usually enjoy your writing, but c’mon man! Buzz saw?