NCAA Football News

What the EA Settlement Could Mean for NCAA in Ed O'Bannon Lawsuit

Common sense—and a sense of right—prevailed months ago. Last September, Electronic Arts and Collegiate Licensing Company agreed to settle with current and former college athletes whose likeness was used in video games. 

The settlement felt inevitable. When gamers played as "Texas A&M QB No. 2" in the NCAA Football franchise over the past few season, for example, it was the worst-kept secret that they were playing as Johnny Manziel. But, because it wasn't actually Manziel—even though the avatar was clearly modeled after him—the NCAA, CLC and EA Sports didn't have to pay him a dime. 

That is no longer the case. 

The money that current and former athletes will rightfully receive has been determined. Tom Farrey of ESPN.com reported on Saturday that EA and CLC have agreed to a $40 million settlement.

How was the number determined? Who gets paid and how much? What does this mean for the ongoing Ed O'Bannon suit and the NCAA? 

Let's get to some answers. 

 

The Ruling

The settlement is relatively straightforward, but like many big legal cases it took a while to come to fruition.

CLC and EA agreed in principle to settle with plaintiffs last year, but because of various issues the outcome was delayed. In November, the NCAA sued CLC and EA over their intent to settle. CLC and EA were originally listed as co-defendants in the O'Bannon case along with the NCAA. But, as the lawsuit progressed the two companies opted to jump ship and settle on their own terms, leaving the NCAA to fend for itself. 

The $40 million settlement must be approved by U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken. 

 

The Numbers

For all the hand-wringing about paying athletes for the use of their image and/or likeness, the individual payout doesn't amount to much. 

According to ESPN, athletes could receive as much as $4,000, though the Fort Worth Star-Telegram notes that individual payout could be "from as little as $48 for each year an athlete was on a roster to $951 for each year." 

These are just estimates. How many apply for payment, the number of game appearances per player and when that player appeared in the game are major factors in determining how much they'll get. 

Here's more from ESPN: 

The suits mostly cover players who were on the rosters of Division I men's basketball or Football Bowl Subdivision teams that appeared in the EA Sports video games since 2003. If approved by Wilken, players will be alerted to the availability of payments and will have to register to get paid, using a formula based in part on how many years they were on those rosters. Plaintiffs' lawyers estimate that there are approximately 140,000 to 200,000 annual roster appearances in all three classes.

O'Bannon, former Arizona State quarterback Sam Keller and former Rutgers quarterback Ryan Hart will receive $15,000 for taking the lead in their respective lawsuits. Former West Virginia running back Shawne Alston will receive $5,000 for similar efforts, and numerous other plaintiffs will receive anywhere between $2,500 and $5,000. 

According to Jon Solomon of CBS Sports, EA can cancel the settlement if a certain number of players "opt out." The number of players needed for that option was redacted from the public filing. 

If those numbers seem like small potatoes, it’s because they are. However, the $40 million settlement is only part of the formula. The O’Bannon case seeks so much more than monetary damages. It attempts to change or otherwise eliminate the rules that prevent athletes from monetizing off of their brand. 

For some players, that could be well beyond a few hundred bucks.

 

What Could This Mean for NCAA vs. O'Bannon Case?

It would be surprising—almost unfathomable, at that—for the NCAA to settle with the O'Bannon plaintiffs in the same fashion as EA and CLC. College athletic's governing body is the sole holdout in the case, which is scheduled to go to trial on June 9. (However, the NCAA has asked for a delay in the start date.) 

Fundamentally, the NCAA and EA/CLC are different. Therefore, plaintiffs want different things from each. Since all the latter can do is offer compensation for past wrongdoings, that's what plaintiffs demanded. 

But the O'Bannon case—and the NCAA's role in it—is bigger than video games. There is television revenue, rules and the power to make (or toss out) those rules at stake. As NCAA guru John Infante explained in a special contribution to the Sporting News in April, plaintiffs are looking for more than straight cash, homey. 

It's not that the NCAA would be unwilling to settle, either, but its terms likely wouldn't be enough to satisfy the plaintiffs, per Infante: 

From past cases, we know what the NCAA is likely to be willing to offer in settlement talks: a significant settlement fund ($100 million is more than doable for the NCAA) and relatively minor changes to NCAA rules like expanded benefits for athletes and cost-of-attendance scholarships. Maybe if push came to shove, the NCAA would take the significant step of offering to adopt rules allowing athletes to profit off their likeness or reputation.

But if you are the O’Bannon plaintiffs and are all but undefeated in the case, is that worth giving up what appears to be an increasingly likely shot at getting up to half of the millions in television dollars that the NCAA and conferences take in each year? For the O’Bannon plaintiffs, the only reasonable settlement discussion might be what percentage of television money athletes will receive, not whether they get any.

There are platforms—like cost of attendance—in which the NCAA has shown a willingness to negotiate. But there are also core principles of amateurism that are the reason the NCAA exists in the first place. Deviating from those in some capacity, while not impossible, is a last-resort move. 

And the NCAA likely won't budge from that position unless it is ordered to by law. 

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Texas Football: Position-by-Position Preview of the the Longhorns' 2014 Roster

The Texas Longhorns' next crop of freshmen arrives on June 3, officially locking in the players available to Charlie Strong and his staff this season. 

Because the Longhorns, according to ESPN, return the most starting experience of any Big 12 program, few of the incoming players project to start. But given the lack of depth at key defensive positions, guys like Edwin Freeman and Poona Ford may be thrust into key roles.

Then, of course, there is the looming possibility that Jerrod Heard could bust his way to the backup job and end up starting before season's end.

Broken down by starters, backups and projected redshirts, here's the outlook for Heard's and every other Longhorn's position in 2014.

Unless otherwise noted, stats and information for each returning player are courtesy of TexasSports.com. All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.com.

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AL.com Names Alabama, South Carolina Preseason Favorites for SEC Championship

There is still a month and change between now and SEC media days, but as an early-June treat, the conference has released its first set of (unofficial) preseason predictions.

According to Charles Hollis of AL.com, the sports information directors (SIDs) of all 14 SEC schools voted on how their opponents will finish, and Alabama and South Carolina came out as the favorites in the West and East, respectively.

Here is the full list of division predictions:

Auburn finished neck-and-neck with Alabama for the lead in the SEC West, slotting in slightly behind its rival despite having beaten the Tide in the Iron Bowl last season and won the conference at large.

Interestingly enough, though, not every SID was keen on the Tigers' chances. Per Hollis, they received mostly first-, second- and third-place votes but also one ninth-place vote that stuck out as an outlier.

That wasn't the only outlier, either. As noted by Bleacher Report's Barrett Sallee, one SID voted defending SEC East champion Missouri No. 13 in the conference—the lowest a team could be voted (as the SIDs were not allowed to vote for their own school):

This is an example of the variance in the SEC East, which also included a fourth-place Florida team that received one vote to finish last in the division. It seems like a free-for-all of sorts that any team could win.

But South Carolina is the small favorite, in large part—one has to assume—because of fifth-year senior Dylan Thompson, who is one of the most experienced quarterbacks in the conference despite spending much of his career behind Connor Shaw.

"We feel good with Dylan," said head coach Steve Spurrier, per Hollis. "He's a fifth-year player, and he wants to be our quarterback. He's played in some big games and played very well for us over the years."

As good as Thompson is, however, he was not voted to either of the two All-SEC teams by the SIDs.

Instead, Auburn's Nick Marshall checked in as the SEC's top signal-caller, and Mississippi State's Dak Prescott graced the second-team.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Georgia Recruiting: 5 Reasons 5-Star DT Trent Thompson Will Sign with the Dawgs

Trent Thompson is a big defensive tackle at 6’4” and 292 pounds (according to 247Sports), but he’s an even bigger recruit. According to the latest 247Sports Composite rankings, Thompson (an Albany, Georgia native) is the top overall prospect in the country.

Thompson has offers from many of the nation’s most elite programs. Alabama, Auburn, Florida State and others have all offered scholarships, but the home-state Georgia Bulldogs won’t disappear without a fight.

Here are five reasons why Trent Thompson will sign with the Dawgs.

Unless otherwise noted all recruiting rankings, ratings and stats courtesy of 247Sports.

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LSU QB Hayden Rettig to Transfer: Top 5 Potential Landing Spots

A former high school All-American is leaving LSU. Quarterback Hayden Rettig, who signed with the Tigers in 2013, will transfer elsewhere, according to Jim Kleinpeter of NOLA.com.

The 6'3", 205-pound passer spent his first season on campus as a redshirt reserve. Following spring camp, Rettig faced an uphill battle to supplant heralded true freshman Brandon Harris and sophomore Anthony Jennings atop the depth chart.

He enrolled at LSU as a 4-star recruit just 17 months ago, rated No. 9 nationally among pro-style quarterback prospects in 247Sports' 2013 composite rankings. The Southern California product threw for 3,400 yards and 40 touchdowns as a senior at Cathedral High School in Los Angeles.

The redshirt freshman finds himself back on the open market and may consider several schools for his second collegiate landing spot. We explore five programs that appear to present possibilities in terms of positional need and personal history with Rettig.

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Position-by-Position Preview of Auburn's 2014 Roster

Spring practices may seem like ancient history for Auburn fans who are anxiously awaiting the start of fall camp and the 2014 season.

The remaining members of Auburn's 2014 recruiting class have arrived on the Plains for summer workouts, looking for a chance to break into the experienced roster for the defending SEC champions.

Several position changes have been made since the Tigers ended their conference title-winning campaign in Pasadena, with a host of newcomers making an instant impact in spring practices and the annual A-Day Game. 

As the Tigers hit the weight room in preparation for fall camp, here is a position-by-position look at the names expected to make an impact this season, from the expected starters to the reserve role players (projected starters are in bold).

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College Football Blue Bloods with the Hardest Path to the Playoffs

We know a little but not much about the due process that will determine which teams play in the College Football Playoff.

Which isn't to say the selection committee has not been forthright. They have been. It is only to say that because the system is so new, and because there are pieces of the process that seem more subjective than the BCS, we will need to wait and see before we fully understand how it works.

Specifically, we will have to see how the committee balances on-field merit with on-paper resume. Committee head Jeff Long made waves in May when he told the media, "We don’t think in terms of most deserving on the resume. We’re focused on the best four teams and the best ranking in the [playoff] top 25. Again, our focus is the best, not deserving.”

This seems to open the door for potential biases.

The SEC is, in many peoples' opinion, the best conference in America, and this statute of "best, not most-deserving" could make it possible for a two- or three-loss team from that league to make it over a two- or one-loss team from another.

Which is why, for the purposes of this list, the SEC teams included were not all ranked at the front. They probably have the hardest schedules in America—i.e. the ones with the most SEC opponents—but because they might be granted slack for an extra loss here and there, they do not necessarily have a harder track to the CFP.

Furthermore, the only teams included on this list were ones with a realistic chance—as deemed by the writer—of making the CFP.

Teams with difficult opponents that never would have made it anyway were ignored. Tennessee, for example, probably has the toughest schedule in America, but it was not considered a modern "blue-blood" after posting four consecutive losing seasons.

This list is a group of teams that have found success the past few years, that are good enough—on paper—to make the College Football Playoff in 2014 but might have trouble because of whom they face and where they face them.

Sound off below if you disagree. 

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Meet the Next Deion Sanders, DeSean Jackson Combo: 4-Star WR Ykili Ross

2015 4-star wide receiver Ykili Ross is one of the top prospects in his class, and he has yet to decide where he will be playing his college football. The 6'2", 185-pound prospect has both the size and the athleticism to make an impact early at the next level.

Bleacher Report caught up with Ross, who discussed the schools he is interested in, what makes him such a great player and why he looks up to stars like DeSean Jackson and Deion Sanders.

What did he have to say about Jackson and Sanders? Watch the video and find out.

 

Highlights courtesy of XOSDigital.com

Rankings courtesy of 247Sports.com

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Top 4 College Football Recruits Who Could Be Selected in the 2014 MLB Draft

A generation ago, athletes played multiple sports as a way of life. The only thing that changed was the season, as football bled into basketball, which bled into baseball, which bled back into football.

Modern times have brought a trend of specialization. Today, young athletes are far more likely to pick one sport early on and stick with it, playing on travel teams, AAU squads and training in the offseason rather than broadening their horizons as multi-sport athletes.

However, a number of talented athletes have continued the tradition of multi-sport success.

Russell Wilson excelled at baseball and football at N.C. State. He even spent time in the minor leagues, with the Colorado Rockies, before transferring to Wisconsin and being drafted by the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks. He also spent time this spring in the Texas Rangers’ minor league camp.

Notre Dame receiver Jeff Samardzija turned down a shot at an NFL career to focus on a baseball career, and he is now a mainstay of the Chicago Cubs’ rotation.

2013 Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston excelled as a member of the Florida State baseball team this spring, compiling a 1-0 record with seven saves, a 1.08 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 33.1 innings as the Seminoles’ closer.

With the 2014 MLB draft set for this week, a handful of college football recruits are on a similar track.

While some will be early round selections and others later round choices, these players could have an interesting choice to make, or at least a nice footnote for their biographies.

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Rich Rodriguez's Unorthodox New Contract Could Open Pandora's Box

What if, as part of its courting of Nick Saban, Texas was able to offer him an enormous salary—say $7 million a season—and ownership in a handful of gas stations spread throughout the state as a cherry on top? What if—in an effort to keep Kevin Sumlin from dashing for the NFL—Texas A&M backed up a Brinks truck of guaranteed dollars and threw in a small percentage of ownership in a line of car dealerships spread throughout the Lone Star State?

Hypothetical? Certainly. Outrageous? Perhaps not anymore, or at the very least it appears to be where we’re trending.

In a decidedly copycat sport—from uniforms, to scheduling, to salaries, to facilities—Rich Rodriguez’s new contract at Arizona could serve as an icebreaker, a light-bulb moment for administrations and boosters to form an lucrative alliance.

The money, according to Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples, is just lovely by its lonesome. Rodriguez’s new five-year contract will net him $2.2 million per season. This contract is also incentive-laced, including triggers like a $200,000 bonus for winning the Pac-12 South and a $1 million bonus for winning a national championship.

This is nothing groundbreaking, of course. Shoot-for-the-moon incentives have become a fixture in the coaching world, and the Rodriguez deal is no different. It’s the other aspect of this contract, however, that could soon set a blueprint to follow, for better or worse. At one point in time, incentives were a trailblazing addition to coaching fine print. Now, such contract clauses could have company.

An Arizona donor has helped pad this deal further, offering up equity to Rodriguez, basketball coach Sean Miller and athletic director Greg Byrne. This “major university benefactor"—as outlined by the Board of Regents—has offered 500,000 units of a master limited partnership. Each unit is currently valued at $35.36 for a total of $17,680,000.

Rodriguez was granted 175,000 units of the 500,000, which equates to $6,188,000 right now. The only caveat for him to cash in on such options is that he has to stay at the school for eight years to receive this payout, whatever that payout becomes. If the price of the unit goes up in that time, Rodriguez’s payout will go up; if the company struggles and the units drop in value, his payouts go down.

Unlike any coaching contract until now—at least the deals being celebrated publicly—this fluctuating incentive is not tied to record or national championships. It’s built on longevity, a strategic attempt to slow down the coaching carousel and keep the Wildcats coach on the same sideline a while longer.

It is both brilliant and vaguely alarming, mainly because there’s no telling what’s next. If there’s one thing we know about this sport, it rarely stops with the first move. The one-upping is consistent and expected, and that could certainly be the case here.

As FootballScoop.com points out, universities around the country are playing close attention:

Rodriguez could, in theory, be among the wealthiest coaches in college football - with only a small portion of that wealth coming from Arizona's athletic budget.

In talking with both coaches and agents within college football, there is no question how massive this contract clause could be within the profession. The word "game-changer" was used by multiple sources. It is impossible to overstate the proverbial eyebrow raise this news caused among college football's top-tier coaching ranks.

This sport has money buried in the mattress, tucked away in safes and stored out of sight in offshore accounts. It’s not just the coaches, athletics directors and television money padding the pockets of school employees, either. It’s the alums standing patiently on the sideline next to their Scrooge McDuck vaults, anxious to spend their money and perhaps buy a winning program.

It’s why stadiums are being upgraded around the country at a greater pace than ever; why college locker rooms now have waterfalls; and why football facilities are starting to look more like five-star hotels and less like buildings dedicated to collegiate athletics. The money is flowing—sometimes from relatively mysterious avenues—and teams are taking full advantage by spending it.

Even though booster impact has long been a part of college football, the ante has been upped in recent years. This latest move by Arizona brings the entities a little bit closer, however, and the results are to be determined.

If wealthy donors are poised and willing to offer up equity in their companies to individuals, the entire coaching landscape could theoretically change. In a sport built on competitive advantages—i.e. whoever has the most money—this is just another way to widen the gap between those programs with remarkable means and everybody else.

On the bright side, this newfound equity could help stabilize the coaching carousel, which has become especially active and volatile in recent years. If coaches have a reason to stay, then perhaps they won’t sprint from campus to campus as often.

Or, perhaps the booster involvement will escalate to the point where equity is now assumed in certain deals from certain teams—a part of the regular ol’ pitch to coaches during the yearly reshuffle. That’s where this brilliant endeavor could grow teeth.

It might not be a matter of where you are or how much your athletic department profited in a given season, but rather if you’re on the good side of a one-percenter willing to share. At a time where the sport is becoming seemingly more corporate, the direct influence of corporations becoming the negotiators only elevates this to another level.

Perhaps what’s most concerning, however, is that this sport rarely stops to admire moderation.

It doesn’t stop with 500,000 shares, not when there are wealthy alums sitting quietly in the back willing to double this investment if and when the time is right. With as much money and resources as some of these wealthy donors have to offer—some of the wealthiest individuals in the world—there’s no telling where this movement might take us.

If Rich Rodriguez—an outstanding college football coach—has already set a steep market, what happens when one of the nation’s elite signal-callers and recruiters get involved?

Eventually, we’ll likely find out.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Position-by-Position Preview of LSU's 2014 Roster

LSU head coach Les Miles is fortunate. 

Not every coach has the luxury of Miles, who always has the talent at his disposal to fill in holes when players jump to the pros. This year's roster is no different. 

The Tigers have a brutal schedule ahead of them, which includes eight SEC games and a tough nonconference season opener against Wisconsin. Miles will need both starters and productive backups in order to win to the conference.

Here is a glimpse of how the Tigers will look at each position.  

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Meet the Next Myles Jack, 4-Star LB Kyahva Tezino

2015 4-star linebacker Kyahva Tezino is one of the top players in his class, and he has yet to decide where he will be playing his college football. The 6'0", 192-pound recruit has the frame to get much bigger but also has the athleticism to play the safety position.

Bleacher Report caught up with Tezino, who discussed his top five schools, which university has the prettiest girls and why he believes his game will be successful at the next level.

What did he have to say about Myles Jack?

Watch the video and find out.

Highlights courtesy of XOS Digital.

Rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Position-by-Position Preview of Michigan's 2014 Roster

Michigan enters Brady Hoke’s fourth season under pressure to bounce back from last season’s 7-6 record. Hoke has yet to win a Big Ten championship and the path just got tougher with Ohio State and Michigan State now both in the newly formed Big Ten East Division. Successful recruiting classes have the roster stocked with raw talent but light on experience in key positions.

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ESPN Putting Mack Brown Right Where He Belongs: On Center Stage

This was bound to happen sooner or later. Maybe it's only surprising that it took as long as it did.

On Sunday, Chip Brown of HornsDigest.com tweeted that former Texas head coach Mack Brown would be joining ESPN as a college football studio analyst this fall.

An official announcement is expected to come later this week, according to Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman

When Brown "resigned" last December after 16 years with Texas, it didn't feel like he would be out of work for long. The final four years of the Brown era in Austin were disappointing, but they shouldn't overshadow all the success he had before then.

He will get calls to coach elsewhere. Maybe he's already received a few. In time, perhaps Brown, 62, will return to the sidelines for a few more years.

For now, this is the perfect job for Brown. Working as a studio analyst keeps him visible on the national stage and caters to his strengths. Brown's personality and years of experience create a perfect combination for the job.

Some coaches just know how to turn on the charm when the cameras start rolling. Brown is one of those coaches. He's engaging, likable and smooth. College football, like all sports, is entertainment. The men and women who cover it may be called hosts, journalists or analysts, but they are also largely entertainers.

Former UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel of the Pac-12 Networks is entertaining because he sings. Lee Corso is entertaining on ESPN's College GameDay because of the headgear selection. Both have their quirks, and that's what they're remembered for.

Brown will be a good television personality, and if he can bring a unique voice to the set, he'll be entertaining, and the move will be reaffirmed as a natural fit. The real question is whether he'll be a good analyst, which is a distinct difference.

It's not that Brown doesn't know football; he clearly does. However, being a good analyst is about using that knowledge to break information down simply, but in a way others cannot. The best analysts are entertaining, yes, but they're also smart—and they treat their audience as such.

The jury is still out on Brown, the analyst.

There's legitimate reason for skepticism. Brown rarely, if ever, had a bad thing to say about anyone—ever. Listening to Brown in the week leading up to a game, you'd think every opponent, no matter how bad, was the 2005 USC Trojans.

To be a good analyst, he'll have to call things like he sees them, not sugarcoat everything. It would be a departure from the Brown that people have come to know.

But it could be a welcome departure.

 

Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report.

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Freak Notre Dame Recruit Quenton Nelson Destroys Two Boards with One Punch

Offensive tackle Quenton Nelson, a 4-star recruit according to 247Sports, is at it again. This time, he broke two boards with one punch in taekwondo class.

If you don't remember, Nelson is the Notre Dame signee who outbenched some of the top players in this year's NFL draft.

Nelson will enter his freshman year in South Bend in a few weeks, and his summer workout routine is in full swing. According to Nelson and his sensei, Kyong Hoon Kim, taekwondo improves his hand fighting technique—a skill any top offensive tackle needs to excel.

Taekwondo is just one aspect of Nelson's workout regimen. The 6'5", 295-pound freak athlete played on Red Bank Catholic's basketball team and participates in a cross-training program called RYPT.

He also does a more traditional strength and conditioning program with Joe McAuliffe, who has trained many NFL players, including Knowshon Moreno of the Miami Dolphins. 

Look for Nelson and his incredible athletic skill on the field for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish next season. 

Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Position-by-Position Preview of Penn State's 2014 Roster

In just about a month, Penn State will welcome its incoming freshman and begin preparing them for the 2014 season. The losses of Allen Robinson and DaQuan Jones have created holes in the depth chart that will soon be filled by new faces.

What will the Nittany Lions' options be across the board where replacements are needed?

Which true freshmen can make an early impact, and can they be joined by redshirt freshmen or even maturing walk-ons?

Let's take a look at the roster for the upcoming season—including newcomers and likely starters!


All stats courtesy of CFBStats.com.

All recruit ratings reference the 247Sports Composite ratings.

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3 Reasons 5-Star QB Torrance Gibson Will Sign with Ohio State

It's no secret that Urban Meyer needs supreme talent at the quarterback position for his offense to operate at its highest level.

At Bowling Green, Meyer had Josh Harris, who piled up 3,162 total yards and threw 19 touchdown passes while running for another 20 scores in 2002. At Utah, he had Alex Smith, who went on to become the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft. At Florida, he had Tim Tebow, who became the first-ever sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy. And, of course, at Ohio State, he has Braxton Miller, who is well on his way to shattering every school record.

Five-star quarterback Torrance Gibson has the opportunity to join that list.

According to Luke Stampini of 247Sports, Meyer told Gibson in January that he was at the top of Ohio State's recruiting wish list. And despite the recent commitment of Joe Burrows, the Buckeyes are still heavy contenders to land the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, product.

With Miller on the verge of his final season at Ohio State, Meyer is hoping to land a 5-star talent to replace him.

Here are three reasons why that will be Gibson.

 

He'll Be Blown Away When He Finally Visits Columbus

Gibson recently announced his final seven schools via Twitter, and the Buckeyes came in at No. 5 behind Tennessee, Auburn, LSU and Oklahoma.

Of those five schools, Ohio State is the only program yet to host Gibson for a visit.

According to Ari Wasserman of the Plain DealerGibson said that the Buckeyes are ranked low because he hasn't been to Columbus yet. Wasserman spoke to Gibson shortly before he announced his final seven, when the Buckeyes ranked fourth on his list.

"I just haven't visited Ohio State yet, and that's why they are No. 4 on my list," Gibson said. 

That will change this fall, as Gibson is planning to make the trip north for a game. When he does, expect Ohio State to shoot up his rankings.

 

Ohio State's Offense Is Perfectly Tailored to His Strengths

Unlike a few of the schools in Gibson's final seven, Meyer's offense is a perfect fit for the the 5-star prospect.

Ohio State's base running play is the zone read, which is triggered by a quarterback with the ability to run. Gibson, who is rated the No. 1 dual-threat signal-caller in this year's class, can execute the zone read to perfection.

The Buckeyes will be able to pitch to Gibson how lethal he would be in their offense. While schools such as Auburn and Tennessee have the same advantage, Ohio State has something that sets itself apart.

And that would be...

 

Urban Meyer

While the current recruiting rankings don't reflect this—Ohio State is sitting at No. 53 with its three-member class—Meyer is widely considered one of the best recruiters in the country. He has backed that up while in Columbus, signing three consecutive top-five classes.

That should pay off for the Buckeyes down the stretch of this year's recruiting season.

Ohio State is in tremendous shape to land 5-star running back Damien Harris. Meyer could work that angle with Gibson, painting a picture of the two blue-chip recruits forming what could be one of college football's most dominant backfields.

Meyer has an incredible ability to put a class together and get players to see his vision. If Meyer can work his magic here, that vision would be tremendous for both Ohio State and Gibson.

 

All recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports, and all stats courtesy of NCAA.com.

David Regimbal is the lead Ohio State football writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @davidreg412.

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Mike Slive's Division IV Threat May Be Empty, but It Will Get the Job Done

Change is coming, and SEC commissioner Mike Slive is going to make sure of it.

Slive wrapped up SEC spring meetings on Friday in Destin, Fla., and made a not-so thinly veiled threat to the NCAA in the process.

When asked what would happen if the "power five" conferences—the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC—fail in their attempt to push for legislative autonomy under the NCAA umbrella, Slive essentially said that, if the big five conferences don't get their way, they're taking their ball and going home.

Or, more appropriately, finding a new home according to Brandon Marcello of AL.com.

What if autonomy doesn't pass? SEC commish Mike Slive: "If it doesn't pass, the next move would be to go to a Division IV."

— Brandon Marcello (@bmarcello) May 30, 2014

Autonomy, in this case, is defined as freedom within the legislative process. It would allow the "power five" conferences the ability to implement full cost of attendance stipends, expanded health coverage, transfer reform and other changes associated with player welfare.

How serious is this threat?

It's an empty threat, but a threat nonetheless according to John Infante of AthleticScholarships.net.

A fourth NCAA division is a non-starter since the NCAA has to agree to create another division.

— John Infante (@John_Infante) May 30, 2014

If that ultimatum actually has teeth, the choice is autonomy or a new association, not a new division.

— John Infante (@John_Infante) May 30, 2014

So what does this all mean?

Essentially, the push for autonomy is a push for progress—which is good for everybody.

The NCAA has dug its heels in for too long regarding player welfare, and thought it could get by selling the myth of amateurism even in an age when escalating media rights changed college athletics into big business. The Ed O'Bannon lawsuit and several others are attempting to change that, and the NCAA is becoming more flexible on defining amateurism more loosely.

But it isn't happening fast enough for the SEC, which according to Florida president Bernie Machen (via: George Schroeder of USA Today), is named in six lawsuits specifically pertaining to full cost of attendance. The "power five" conferences recognize the issues that are facing players created from college athletics becoming big business, and are doing something about it on their own.

With so much attention being paid to legislative structure this year, the Ed O'Bannon lawsuit reaching its most critical hour, Northwestern's push for unionization and the litany of other player-welfare battles currently taking place across the country, the NCAA can't afford even the perception that it's digging its heels in.

That's exactly what will happen if the "power five" doesn't get enough votes for autonomy (roughly 3/8th of Division I, according to John Infante).

The ideal Division IV would be for the "power five" to loosen the definitions of amateurism while still enjoying some of its benefits. The NCAA isn't going to let the "power five" have their cake and eat it too, but knows that the alternative would be worse for its own business in a critical time of its existence.

Division IV may be unlikely, but the threat is out there for very legitimate reasons. The "power five" conferences are basically saying, "if we don't get our way, we're wrecking the whole thing."

The big-business nature of college athletics won't let that happen, which means autonomy will happen one way or another.

 

* Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report.

 


Read more College Football news on BleacherReport.com

Position-by-Position Preview of the Florida Gators 2014 Roster

Now that we’re in the month of June, the entire 2014 Florida Gators freshman class is getting comfortable with its surroundings, fall camp is soon to begin and the offseason is soon to be a thing of the past.

This is the perfect time to provide a quick glance at the Gators roster and see just how this team stacks up heading into a tough 2014 schedule.

What are the glaring weaknesses of this team? Any strong points that can help catapult Florida to SEC contention?

It’s going to be an interesting season for the Florida Gators.

Here’s a position-by-position preview of the team.

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