Week 9 Winners and Losers: Lattimore’s injury shows the draft eligibility rule has to be changed

Dr. Saturday

Marcus Lattimore should be a rich man already.

After his freshman season, it was clear he was a NFL star in the making. He was big, fast, and rushed for 1,197 yards and 17 touchdowns for South Carolina. He was the perfect package at the position, with few miles on his odometer, and he would have been drafted high. Forget about him being young — some NFL team would have taken a shot on his physical ability and potential.

The life of a running back is dangerous and the careers are short. Last year Lattimore tore his ACL. Florida safety Josh Evans thought he had lost a step when he prepared to face him earlier this month. If Evans saw that, NFL scouts did too. And now Lattimore's future NFL earning potential rests on his ability to recover from one of the nastiest injuries we've seen.

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier understood the repercussions of Lattimore's injury, although he provided few details about the severity of it.

''He's going to do wonderful things,'' Spurrier said, according to the AP, while acknowledging, ''I don't know what field of life.''

It'll be a long road back, and nobody knows yet if Lattimore will get the shot in the NFL he should have had already.

The NFL's rule that players need to stay in college for three years before they are draft eligible is convenient. It lets college football continue to keep elite players (and sell a lot of tickets) and gives the NFL a minor-league system at no cost. It's terribly unfair.

Players like Georgia freshman running back Todd Gurley, Alabama freshman running back T.J. Yeldon and South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney are three of many young players who could be productive in the NFL next year. "They're not ready after one year of college" is not a legitimate excuse for the rule. If players who leave after a year or two of college (or straight out of high school) aren't ready, the NFL shouldn't and wouldn't pick them. But part of the reason the rule is in place, it seems clear, is so NFL teams save themselves from scouting mistakes. So a player like Lattimore has to stay in school and expose himself to major injury every week while South Carolina sells out its stadium and the NFL doesn't invest a dime in him before he gets hurt.

After Lattimore's injury, elite young players like Gurley, Yeldon and Clowney (who would likely be the top pick of the 2013 draft if he could leave, and happens to be Lattimore's teammate) have to be concerned that they too will suffer an injury that will cost them millions before they're even allowed to enter the NFL. None of that seems right.

[More NCAAF: Notre Dame leaps into the top three of the BCS Standings]


Austin Hill: It's pretty unlucky to have a breakout 259-yard receiving effort on the same day an opponent breaks a conference record with 335 yards, but Hill had a great game and unlike USC's Marqise Lee, he got the win.

Hill is having a tremendous sophomore year for Arizona. He is physical at 6-3, 211 pounds, and already has four 100-yard games. He has 937 yards and seven touchdowns on 54 catches, even if he's overshadowed in his own conference.

Kent State: When we wrote that Kent State was headed to a bowl for the first time since 1972, there was some angst that the proclamation was premature, that six-win teams from smaller conferences have been left out before (which ignored that bowl organizers probably couldn't wait to invite a team whose fans hadn't traveled to a bowl in 40 years). Well, that concern is all moot now.

Kent State beat Rutgers, ranked 18th in the AP poll, winning 35-23 on the road to get a very impressive win and move to 7-1. There's no need to worry anymore about whether the Golden Flashes will get invited to a bowl. At this point it's just a matter of which one they'll go to.

Shawn Williams: Earlier in the week, Georgia defensive back Shawn Williams was taking a lot of heat for calling his team's defense "soft." By the end of Saturday's 17-9 upset win over No. 2 Florida, Williams was being championed for giving the speech that saved the Bulldogs' season.

Williams challenged the Georgia defense, which had struggled in the past couple weeks and made the first example by stopping wide receiver Solomon Patton on a fourth-and-inches play early in the game. The rest of the defense fell in line. Linebacker Baccari Rambo had an interception at the end of the first half to stop a Florida scoring drive and Jarvis Jones, the most feared player among the Bulldogs' front seven, had a stunning game with a career-high 13 tackles, three sacks, two forced fumbles and a two fumble recoveries. One of those forced fumbles sealed the game.

So kudos to Williams for speaking his mind and to his team for listening and taking his words to heart.

Indiana: We're not sure if Big Ten wins against Illinois should even count. Let's just say the Tim Beckman Era is off to a booming start in Champaign. But give Indiana credit, because the Hoosiers (unlike most of the Big Ten) has been much more competitive than most people figured. The Hoosers lost by four to Michigan State, by three to Ohio State, by one at Navy and then finally broke its five-game losing streak and got a conference win at Illinois, decisively beating the Illini 31-17. That was Indiana's first Big Ten win since 2010. There at least seems to be some life in Indiana's program, which is more than we can say for Illinois right now.

Boise State: Hey, remember Boise State? The team that had a string of successful seasons, a couple BCS bowls and pretty much turned the BCS on its head any chance it got? Well, the Broncos are back — kind of.

OK, so it's not it's the same undefeated and universally feared Boise State, but it is a team that is steadily climbing up the BCS standings and could be in a position to once again snatch a BCS bowl spot.

Boise State was No. 21 in last week's BCS standings, but could see a significant bump after a crazy weekend of college football. Seven teams ahead of the Broncos lost Saturday and while not all of them will significantly drop, some voters might still have a special place in their hearts for the one-loss Broncos and give them some love for their 45-14 win over Wyoming.

With Ohio's loss to Miami-Ohio, Boise State could be the only non-BCS team remaining in the BCS standings.

[Also: South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore diagnosed with a dislocated knee]


Colorado: It must be difficult for the Buffs to go into every game — especially games against the upper echelon of the Pac-12 — knowing they're going to have a tough time competing.

Such was the case Saturday when Oregon jumped out to a 14-0 lead before 3 minutes had even passed in the game. The Ducks hung 70 on the Buffs, the first time Colorado has allowed 70 points since Texas beat it 70-3 in the Big 12 championship in 2005. That game marked the end of former coach Gary Barnett, but current coach Jon Embree probably won't suffer the same fate. Still, it's hard to believe that this is the same Colorado team that less than a decade ago was competing for conference championships. Now, it might be the most uncompetitive team in the FBS.

Arkansas: The Razorbacks weren't going to completely save their season with a win Saturday, but with a win they could have improved to 4-4, which is not too bad given the hole they were in early in the year. Arkansas had won two straight SEC games before Saturday, providing some hope. And things looked pretty good when the Razorbacks led Ole Miss 10-0 in the first quarter on Saturday.

Not much went right after that. Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson, who has been in the middle of a personal resurgence, threw a couple of interceptions. There was an embarrassing sequence in the fourth quarter in which Arkansas had a touchdown wiped out for having an illegal formation because not enough players were on the line of scrimmage, then a delay of game and a false start before a field-goal attempt. Those aren't mistakes a good, disciplined team makes. When Arkansas battled back and tied the game with a little more than two minutes left, Ole Miss drove right downfield and scored the game-winning field goal as time expired, ending an afternoon that sums up the Razorbacks' season and their 3-5 record.

Joel Stave and Wisconsin's offense: Wisconsin started the season slow, but started to find its offense in recent weeks and looked like a team that actually deserved a spot in the Big Ten title game (the Badgers are going to win the Leaders Division by default). A lot had to do with quarterback Joel Stave, a freshman who emerged as a starter and at least gave the offense some threat of a passing attack. Stave was 9-of-11 for 137 yards and a touchdown against Michigan State, then he was knocked out of the game with a shoulder injury and had to watch the Badgers' offense fall apart without him.

Ineffective backup Danny O'Brien came in and the entire Badgers' offense came to a halt. Michigan State rallied for a 16-13 overtime win mostly because Wisconsin couldn't move the ball. In overtime, Montee Ball rushed for a 1-yard loss against a defense stacked to stop him, then O'Brien threw two incomplete passes before a field goal. That's a preview of what's to come for Wisconsin considering reports out of Madison are claiming Stave has a broken collarbone and is out for the rest of the season.

Tennessee fans: Yes, Derek Dooley is on the ropes. Maybe Jon Gruden does eventually come to Tennessee as the constant rumors would have you believe (although we're not fully convinced he's a great fit, though he'd be well worth the gamble for UT). At this point though, Tennessee's obsession is bordering on stalking.

On Volquest.com, Tennessee's site on the Rivals.com network, a thread on the message board outlined that Gruden was on a Saturday flight, that the poster who broke that news had a conversation with him about Tennessee ("I love it there. My wife is from up there," Gruden supposedly said) and that Gruden was watching the Tennessee game and taking copious notes. Challenged by excited Vols fans to prove it, the Vols fan on the flight got a blurry picture as evidence:

So there you have it. The Gruden Watch is in full bloom. We hope Tennessee gets him at this point, just for the fan base's sanity.

Ohio: An undefeated season for the Bobcats was probably unrealistic, but they probably hoped their stay in the AP poll would last more than one game.

Ohio, which was in the AP poll for the first time since 1968, will be out of the poll next week. The 23rd ranked Bobcats were upset by a Miami (Ohio) team that came into the game 3-4, and the loss was heartbreaking. Ohio drove to the 7-yard line with nine seconds left and decided to run another play, despite not having any timeouts left, instead of kicking the game-tying field goal. Quarterback Tyler Tettleton was sacked and time ran out, which is a loss that will stick with the Bobcats for a while.

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