CFB News of the Week: 6/11/2021

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CFP proposing to move to 12-team playoff

It was only a matter of time before the College Football Playoff committee pushed for this kind of format. Since the dawn of the four-team playoff, fan bases and analysts across the country have wanted the playoff expanded in some way. Six teams, eight teams, 12 teams — nobody knew for sure what the answer was, they just knew they wanted more playoff football. Well, it looks like things are moving that direction.

The proposal is for six conference winners and six at-large bids. The six conference winners would be chosen on the basis of the six highest-ranking conference winners, which guarantees at least one G5 squad makes it into the playoffs every year. A huge portion of the expanded playoff movement has been to get the G5 some representation, so this would ensure that.

Last year would have been the G5’s best-case-scenario for such a format. Both Cincinnati and Coastal Carolina would have gotten into the playoff, booting out the PAC-12. Granted, last season’s results are skewed heavily by all of the COVID factors, but it’s still worth noting that getting two G5 conference-winners into the playoffs isn’t impossible.

The format would also include a bye week for the first four teams — the four highest-ranked conference winners. While fairly intuitive, the thing to note for that is that Notre Dame will not be able to earn a bye week unless they officially join a conference. Notre Dame can still make the playoff, but they will be barred from earning a bye week, which is the downside of being independent and able to craft their own schedule.

For what it’s worth, a 12-team format last year would have featured Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, and Oklahoma earning bye weeks. Cincinnati, Coastal Carolina, Notre Dame, Texas A&M, Florida, Georgia, Iowa State, and Indiana would have made up the other eight teams, in order.

QB Luke McCaffrey on the move again

QB Luke McCaffrey is already headed out on the transfer trail again this offseason. A few months ago, McCaffrey, who will be a redshirt sophomore in 2021, transferred from Nebraska to Louisville. It’s not too surprising that someone would want out of a Nebraska program that seems to have stalled out, but it is a bit interesting to see McCaffrey not even get through his first full preseason with Louisville before bailing.

When McCaffrey got some playing time with Nebraska in 2020, it was ugly. McCaffrey attempted 76 passes, completing them 63.2% of the time for 6.1 yards per attempt. The real kicker is McCaffrey threw just one touchdown to a whopping six interceptions, bringing his interception rate to nearly 8%. The silver lining is that McCaffrey is a talented runner. In 2020, McCaffrey took 65 carries for 365 yards and three touchdowns, proving himself legitimately capable of being a threatening dual-threat.

Still, McCaffrey’s appeal in the transfer portal right now is more about previous star rating than anything he showed at Nebraska. McCaffrey was a four-star recruit back in 2019 and sat just outside of 247 Sports’ top-250 rankings.

The tricky part with McCaffrey’s recruitment now is it’s not entirely clear what his eligibility status will be. The NCAA ruled that players may transfer once for free without having to worry about eligibility. While McCaffrey is technically on his second transfer, he never officially played for Louisville. McCaffrey’s eligibility situation will probably need to be monitored and sorted out once he finds a new destination.

Nick Saban contract extended through 2028

Reports of Nick Saban’s extensions could have said he was extended indefinitely and not a single person would have batted an eye. Saban has been with them for 11 years and would be with them for another 1,100 if Father Time allowed it.

Saban’s old deal kept him employed with the Tide through 2025. Saban’s new deal pushes the end of the deal back another three years, while also adding and shuffling around some of the money between now and then.

Saban’s current $8.425 million annual salary will steadily climb throughout the remainder of the deal. Likewise, Saban will net an $800,000 completion bonus for each season between 2022-2025, so long as he is still the Alabama coach through each season. Saban, to the surprise of nobody, is here to stay at Alabama and will be paid handsomely to do so.

In 11 seasons with Alabama, Saban has a 165-23 record with six national championships.

A wave of 2022 four-star commits rolls through

Just a few weeks ago, the 2022 recruiting cycle hit a major turning point with the reopening of on-campus visits starting June 1st. Since then, recruits have started to get the summer commitments rolling. This past week was a pretty big one as far as four-star recruits go.

First off the board was DE Donterry Russell to Mississippi State. Though just 6-foot-4 and 200-pounds right now, Russell has another year of high school and likely a year or two in college to bulk up before he sees the field in a meaningful capacity. Regardless, Russell has crazy closing speed and the length to really give offensive tackles fits with respect to finding good points of contact. Russell brought Mississippi State’s class all the way up to 13 recruits, though, so they are clearly doing some work early in this cycle.

Next off the board was WR Kaleb Brown to the Buckeyes. Brown wanted to make his commitment to the Buckeye so clear that he announced his commitment while on an official visit to the school. The new Buckeyes WR is a tad light at 5-foot-10 and 177-pounds, but he fits in well with the speedster mold that Ohio State has often made great use of. Brown is already Ohio State’s third WR recruit of the 2022 class and it would not be surprising to see them continue stacking the position.

The final four-star domino to fall this past week was linebacker Torren Wright. Not long before his commitment on Tuesday, Wright had released a top-three of Duke, West Virginia, and North Carolina State. Ultimately, the North Carolina resident landed on NC State, becoming their fifth recruit of the 2022 cycle to this point. Wright sports a tall 6-foot-3, 215-pound build and comes to NC State as a bit of a hybrid player. Wright can play both on the edge or as an apex linebacker in the slot. It may take a year or two for the program to really iron out Wright’s role when he gets there, but the size and speed are there for him to make an impact.