Hog Calls:

If coaches can leave for greener pastures, athletes can, too

By: Nate Allen
Published: Saturday, October 20, 2018
Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant (2) warms up before the first half of an NCAA college football game between Georgia Tech and Clemson, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)
Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant (2) warms up before the first half of an NCAA college football game between Georgia Tech and Clemson, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

FAYETTEVILLE -- Speaking Wednesday to the Northwest Arkansas Touchdown Club, Danny Sheridan expressed opinions likely discomforting Arkansas Coach Chad Morris.

The USA Today oddsmaker/gambling tout praised Arkansas' new coach's recruiting zeal and offensive coaching prowess, but his comments regarding graduate transferring Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant weren't timely beneficent to Morris with Bryant on Friday starting his Arkansas recruiting visit.

Sheridan criticized Bryant as "quitting" on his team, discontinuing team participation after the season started to transfer at semester.

Transferring doesn't bother Sheridan. Leaving with the season started does.

From an old school, be-true-to-your-school-standpoint, Sheridan makes valid points.

But in this view they are more than offset by this old school adage: "What's good for the goose is good for the gander."

If coaches can and do leave their teams before bowl games for a deluge of dollars, or athletic directors stick their players with interim coaches because they canned the head coach even while bowl bound, why the high dudgeon regarding players seeking greener pastures and one last chance after their season starts sourly?

This all began with those graduating early allowed to transfer with immediate eligibility.

That compounded with this year's new rule that a player playing a maximum four games or less could count the season like a redshirt. His 2018 eligibility status sticks through 2019.

Senior Bryant never redshirted in 2015 and 2016 backing up Clemson national champion quarterback Deshaun Watson. Last year Bryant quarterbacked Clemson to an ACC championship and 12-2 record into the first-round playoff Sugar Bowl loss to eventual national champion Alabama .

This year in four games Bryant did fine, completing 35 of 53 passes for 456 yards and two touchdowns vs. an interception.

Freshman Trevor Lawrence did better. He's 69 of 101 for 868 yards with 11 touchdowns vs. two picks.

On Sept. 25, Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney declared Lawrence the starter.

His four-game maximum card punched and degree in hand, Bryant said he's moving on, striving to start elsewhere in 2019.

Most -- even a team's leading receiver like Arkansas' Jonathan Nance in 2017 but opting out of the 2018 Hogs as a 2019 grad transfer after just one early season catch -- depart with mutual good-byes and good luck.

But ACC champion quarterback Bryant is nationally high profile. That increased when Lawrence was briefly injured and replaced by untested freshman Chase Brice.

Suddenly Bryant left his team in a lurch.

Tell the 2007 Razorbacks about left in a lurch. Their mammoth SEC season ending upset over eventual national champion LSU in Baton Rouge immediately forgotten with their coach eased out but days later left them disheartened, patch-worked coached and massacred by Missouri in the Cotton Bowl.

Kelly Bryant seized a loophole! Horrors!

So nationally comes "tut, tut" change the rule integrity posturing from coaches and administrators who spend their professional lives looking for loopholes.

Sure, ideally a player starting a season with his team finishes with his team. But idealism should run on a two-way street.

Sports on 10/20/2018

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