One of the best defenders in the conference is leaving. This was his message.
He doesn’t go into great detail of where he is going and why. That’s ok, he went to college, and got his degree. Continuing his education and/or upping his chances of getting to the NFL are both worthy reasons. We at Hustle Belt wish him the best of luck!
Now, on to the bigger picture. Another reason Mr. Valdez could be leaving is because he has the opportunity to play for a school that he dreamed of playing for his entire life. That is also a worthy cause. It’s time we fully explore the possibilities of the graduate transfer, and what it means to the MAC.
Theoretically it’s for the kids, and it should be. In fact, all of college football should be, but of course it isn’t. There is too much money involved. The reality is a kid is virtually locked in to a college for his career, based on his accomplishments as a 16 year old kid. The top flight schools rarely recruit a kid based on what he did his senior year. The NCAA lightened that archaic thinking that benefits the top money making schools by allowing students to transfer without sitting a year, if they have already graduated. A reward for good students that are trying to achieve academically.
Of course, to no one but the NCAA’s surprise, the top money making schools have been using this to their advantage. This rule first came across my radar when Russell Wilson transferred to Wisconsin after likely losing the starting job at North Carolina State. He almost won the Badgers a national championship, and parlayed his success to a lucrative NFL career. In that case, it worked for Wisconsin and the student athlete.
Where it is terrifying to MAC fans and coaches is in cases like Mr. Valdez. A kid making a name for himself in the MAC, and then leaving for greener pastures. It shouldn’t. The big schools have been dealing with it for years with the NFL draft, and it even happens in the MAC. Most importantly, it’s good for Mr. Valdez and kids like him with dreams.
What they should be doing is scanning the rosters of power 5 schools and finding kids that want to play football, but have been surpassed on the depth chart by the new kid with the shiny stars by his name. Unfortunately the NCAA wont allow this, because, God forbid, a kid actually play football that wants to. He has to sit the bench at the big school so that the little schools can’t have him.
Allowing for more mobility in college sports is good for the student, and could be good for the MAC. Along with being able to fill voids with talented players not seeing the field at the power program, they could use it as a motivation for their current players. Hey, missed your first chance to play for the college of your dreams? Work hard, and study, and they might take you the next time around.
There are plenty of kids in the MAC that don’t believe they belong in the NFL, but certainly believe they belong in the Big Ten. Eventually, their motivation isn’t where it should be, because they know that dream isn’t going to happen. Why not give these kids a second chance at their dream? Because they didn’t hit their last growth spurt until it was too late? That’s pretty brutal.
Obviously there should be limits, like the number of transfers each team can take. It also shouldn’t be allowed within the same conference.
Allowing more transfers, and a transparent way to match the kid and the college, is good for the kid, and ultimately good for the game. If it means more work for the coaches and administrators, that’s a sacrifice I am willing to make. They are actually getting paid.