The College Football Degenerate's Newsletter: January 31
This Week: Coaching Carousel Dominoes Continue; Does Ohio State Have The Best Roster in College Football?; Late Transfer Movements; & Some Notes on BIG-12 RBs.
We come for justice, not vengeance. Now them is two different things.
- Boss Spearman, Open Range (2003)
Coaching Carousel Dominoes Continue
After flirting with any and every NFL head coach opening, former Michigan HC Jim Harbaugh accepted the Los Angeles Chargers opening. UM’s DC— Sherone Moore, will be the man who replaces him as the head coach in 2024.
Of course, Moore — being a diplomatic man — sought to extend an olive branch to the OSU staff after a tumultuous two years off the field, insisting that he had nothing to do with the sign stealing scandal, and that the Buckeyes need not seek vengeance. To which, my sources tell me Day sent back a letter reading “We come for justice, not vengeance. Now them is two different things.”
If former Arizona head coach Jedd Fisch was planning on bringing his luggage with him to Seattle (hashtag Louis), Arizona booster Humberto Lopez had better ideas. While future pig RB Jonah Coleman followed Fisch, it looks like the two main players for Arizona— QB Noah Fifita, and WR Tetairoa McMillan, will be staying put.
That’s welcome news if you’re a CFF player, because while those two might have done well at UW with Fisch, former SJSU coach and AU alumni Brent Brennan brings with him a nice pedigree at QB and WR to Tucson. I like this hire for Arizona, and with their move to the new BIG-12 — which should be absolutely crazy this upcoming season — the stocks of Fifita and TMac remain sky high for 2024.
SJSU will replace coach Brennan with former Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo, who had a 109-83 record in 15-plus seasons at Navy. He was was let go after the Midshipmen went 4-8 in 2022.
If you’re like me, you probably saw this move and wondered: just why exactly was coach N targeted by SJSU as the replacement?
As it happens, Niumatalolo spent the 2023 season in an advisory role on Chip Kelly’s staff at UCLA. He is a native of Hawaii, who played quarterback for the University of Hawaii in the late 1980s, and was spending time at his place in Manoa for the holidays. Coincidentally, during this time, the Spartans were on the island, preparing to face Coastal Carolina in December’s Hawaii Bowl.
Joe Seumalo, then the Spartans’ defensive line coach, invited Niumatalolo to watch a San Jose State practice. Brennan, who is also friends with Niumatalolo (they both were mentored by former SJSU head coach Dick Tomey), then asked Niumatalolo to talk to the players.
“It gave me an indication of who they were,” Niumatalolo said in an interview with the Chronicle. “I just saw that they’re a family. Coach had created a great family atmosphere, and I just saw how close they were.”
“So, coming here, I recognized this is a program that’s got a great culture already established by Coach Brennan, and hopefully, I can just build off that.”
Given that coach N’s offence at Navy was a run-heavy triple option system, there was some trepidation amongst the CFF community when he was hired. However, he won’t be using that with the Spartans.
Niumatalolo has hired Craig Stutzmann as his offensive coordinator. Stutzmann, who played wide receiver at Hawaii (1998-2001), employs the “Spread-N-Shred” offence, a descendant of the run and shoot but with a greater emphasis on the running game. He served on Texas State’s staff as WRs coach and pass-game coordinator in 2023. He also served as the co-OC for WSU in 2020 and 2021. Notably, the WR1 at Texas State— Joey Hobert, had a very strong season in 2023, averaging just shy of 20 PPG.
Of note, and I will write about this some more in a later section, SJSU WR Nick Nash, who had some very big games in 2023, briefly entered the portal, before returning back to SJSU. I’m intrigued about the possibilities here in regards to the pass game under Stutzmann. Nash is a player that holds my interest for 2024.
Does Ohio State Have The Best Roster in College Football?
One of the biggest transfer acquisitions in the history of the portal transpired in late January, with former Alabama safety Caleb ‘NIL won’t be a factor in my recruitment’ Downs, choosing the Buckeyes at (seemingly) the last minute.
Rumours of Downs being in the process of completing his paper work in Athens are out there if you should feel so inclined to look for them, but such is life in the current era of CFB. Nobody is safe, not even the hometown back-to-back champion UGA Bulldogs. I figure Buckeyes fans will appreciate me ignoring UM’s latest championship.
Besides Downs, who is obviously a massive get, the Buckeye have been extremely active in the portal this offseason, but more importantly, they return several veteran stars for 2024. DL J.T. Tuimoloau could have easily been an early round draft pick this spring, EDGE Jack Sawyer, who’s largely been a disappointment from his lofty high school grade, also returns.
WR Emeka Egbuka is coming back to be the WR1 in 2024, and so is his running mate RB TreVeyon Henderson, who might have legitimately been the first RB taken in April. Pair him with a transfer acquisition of one Quinshion ‘my O-line sucks’ Judkins, and you have a fairly deadly quartet of skill players with rising sophomore Carnell Tate.
Not to mention the Batman himself— Will Howard, by way of Kansas State, who — through the guidance of Ra's al Ghul — is on a mission to destroy the city of Ann Arbour, and tear the hearts out of very UM fan in the process.
Oh, and remember our old friend Ross ‘Arbitrage’ Bjork? Seems he’s found a new home in Columbus. The former Texas A&M AD oversaw a very productive NIL operation with Jimbo’s Aggies in the early 2020s, and I suppose it’s just a coincidence that his arrival coincided with Downs’ commitment a week later.
Kudos to the Buckeyes for moving swiftly and doing what was needed to be done. The roster is loaded, and with Harbaugh on his way, it is truly do or die time for the current regime on staff. Should they lose a fourth time in 2024, I would assume structural changes will be made in Columbus.
Late Transfer Movement
C/O 2024 Five Star QB Julian Sayin, who finishes the cycle as the #1 QB prospect for 2024, opted out of Alabama within his first weeks on campus, and transferred to OSU. This move won’t manifest itself in any meaningful way on the field in 2024 (unless some crazy shit happens), but it could create an interesting scenario with another five star QB—Air Noland, who is also in OSU’s 2024 recruiting class. Noland, a native of GA, was not pursued by the instate Bulldogs, which tells me a lot of about his ability level, so I’m assuming he’s the more likely one to dip next offseason (perhaps even in the spring) if one is going to leave.
Former UW WR Germie Bernard followed his old coaches from Seattle to Tuscaloosa, announcing his official move to Alabama in late January. I like this move, and I will speak more to it in an upcoming article.
SJSU WR Nick Nash went in and out of the transfer portal after his head coach announced his move to Arizona. As it turns out, the new staff, as mentioned above, will be running a pretty nice system for WR usage, so I think Nash is on to the right idea here. He’ll be the lead candidate to be WR1 on this team in 2024. The remaining question mark will be the QB position. I’m intrigued about what happens this year for SJSU, and I actually will be taking a hard look at the RB position, given coach N’s triple option background, and the OC’s recent history with Ismael Mahdi.
Speaking of SJSU, their RB last season— Quali Conley, is forecasted to transfer to AU and follow his old head coach. Brent Brennan’s RB1 averaged over 20 PPG last season, so if he keeps that up, Conley is an interesting name. However, it’s important to not be a prisoner of the moment. Brennan has been a HC for a long time, and it was only in the last season of recent memory where his RBs were CFF assets.
Former AU QB Jayden De Laura (JDL) has withdrawn from Texas State. That’s unfortunate for the Bobcats, because their 2023 starter— TJ Finley, moved on to Western Kentucky earlier this month. De Laura would have been a nice fit in this offence. The good news is, there’s an opportunity to find the next guy at an even cheaper price.
The New BIG-12 Is Going To Be Bananas At RB
I put a tweet on X over the weekend about the new BIG12, and how I was fired up about this year’s group of RBs. This conference is truly going to be wild, and dare I say — the best conference for CFF purposes? I think it will be, not just for RBs, but at all positions. Below are some notes on each of the RB situations:
Texas Tech — Alpha pig Tahj Brooks returns after averaging just shy of 20 PPG in 2023. His volume was enough to make a contented pig wallow in happiness, rolling around in the sun-soaked mud with pure, unbridled glee. That was most unexpected given the current staff in place, but hey, we’ll take it. I am all in for 2024.
Arizona — The aforementioned Brennan is taking over and his RB1 in 2023 averaged over 20 PPG. SJSU transfer Quali Conley is the presumed starter in 2024.
Kansas — Lance Leipold’s track record is the stuff of legend. Unfortunately, since he’s been at KU, he’s been splitting work more than we would like. However, Devin Neal is returning off a 1000 yard rushing season, and 2024 figures to feature even heavier usage (fingers crossed).
Iowa State — True freshman breakout Abu Sama was a pleasant surprise in 2023. This ISU program has become notorious for strong RB production under Matt Campbell, and Sama looks to be the next guy up. Limited sample size gives me trepidation, and I will approach with caution here. Let’s see what we hear this spring. Other RBs clearing out of the room is a good sign. On the other hand, EMU’s Jaylon Jackson transferred in also. We’ve seen many a MAC RB get lost in the shuffle, so that’s not too concerning, but it is something to keep in mind.
Utah — The Utes system under the current regime has been excellent, but the room is in flux currently. At present, I am not sure who takes over (though I have some ideas).
TCU — Like the Utes, the current system at TCU has been excellent recently, but the room is in flux at the moment. I am not sure who takes over as of writing this article.
KState — I have an article coming on DJ Giddens in the near future.
Colorado — They could have a productive RB, as current OC— Pat Shurmer, utilized SaQuon Barkley heavily while with the New York Giants. My guess is probably not.
WVU — Two good RBs in a good system, but they probably split work. Jaheim White and CJ Donaldson are the two names to know.
BYU — It is LJ Martin SZN in Provo. Be on the lookout for another article on him this offseason.
OSU — The second coming of Chuba Hubbard returns.
UCF — RJ Harvey returns (LFG!).
Houston — Former Tulane head coach Willie Fritz brings a good system for RB usage over with him. At present, not sure who takes over.
Baylor — Jake Spavital was the OC at Cal last season when the RB1 Jadyn Ott averaged over 20 PPG. Normally, coach Spav runs a committee though, so proceed with caution. Reese White is perhaps a name to reacquaint ourselves with this offseason (if you’re receiving this email, you’re already in the right place).
Cincinnati — Current HC Scott Satterfield has a good track record of pigs at RB, and he actually had one go over 1000 yards last year despite his QB Emory Jones absorbing a lot of rushing yardage, and splitting carriers with other runners. I am holding out hope for Kiner, but will be proceeding with caution. This is another article topic currently in the works.
Arizona State — RB1 Cam Skattebo returns. He will be contending with DeCarlos Brooks (as far as I know) once again, but he should be a pretty productive player in 2024. Probably a better bestball asset than standard, but still valuable. I like that they use him in several different ways.
More Recruiting Violations?
Earlier in January, the NCAA announced that it was levying punishments on the Florida State football program for a series of recruitment violations involving a player in the transfer portal during the spring of 2022. This past week, another investigation was launched into the Tennessee Volunteers football program, this time (apparently) centering around the recruitment of C/O 2023 QB Nico Iamaleava.
The details of this investigation as of now are sparse, but the crux of the issue is the use of NIL as an inducement for a commitment to a University’s football program from a high schooler. Again, from where I stand, I imagine this exact action has been common place at most Power Five (P5) schools across the country since NIL laws went live.
What this tells me is that the NCAA is likely not finished in its investigations and I would expect many more cases like this one to come to the surface in the coming years. Indeed, I can imagine that the issue of NIL as an inducement is a difficult one to punish in real time, and whatever violations are happening, or have happened, in the previous three classes will likely take some time to unpack if you’re the regulating body.
Tennessee, of course, is fighting back with legal action. The result of this battle will have fairly wide sweeping effects on the rest of CFB I would imagine. This is a situation I will continue to write about as more information is uncovered.
VP Proverb Of The Week
“The one who patiently seeks a fat pig, wisely ventures where others are unaware, revealing delicacies when the time is ripe.”
Way Too Early CFF Mock Draft
I, as well as a panel of 11 of the CFF industry’s brightest minds, participated in Jared Palmgren’s first mock draft of the 2024 offseason earlier this month. It was an honour for me to be included amongst such an incredible group of gentlemen, and I found it interesting to see who everyone was prioritizing in their drafts.
We each released videos speaking about our selections, and answering some questions Jared had prepared for us. I highly recommend giving it a watch/listen.
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