Benefits of Cook's Transfer Depend on Endgame

Playing time doesn't always equal the benefits of staying in a better program

By Janie Campbell
|  Friday, Aug 28, 2009  |  Updated 6:15 PM EDT
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Benefits of Cook's Transfer Depend on Endgame

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Brock Berlin, a rare transfer (history shows) success story.

This week, Taylor Cook joined Cannon Smith, Robert Marve, Shawnbrey McNeal, Daniel Adderley, Jermaine McKenzie, and Joe Wylie in a special category: all have transfered from Miami since January in search of a better opportunity elsewhere. 

The dearly departed ones join recent-year fliers Kirby Freeman (Baylor), Dajleon Farr (Memphis), Chris Perry (Texas Tech), Doug Wiggins (Western Michigan), Luqman Abdullah (Hofstra), Daren Daley (UCF), Charlie Jones (Memphis), and Chris Lewis (Fresno State).

We don't note the crowd to panic the orange and green faithful -- such attrition is widespread in college football. About 38% of signees don't make it to graduation at the school where they first enroll (consider Auburn, who sit 10 players short of available scholarships), and the 'Canes are actually 7th-highest in the NCAA in terms of keeping and graduating players.

But it does beg the question: what happens to the ones who leave because they, like Cook, were buried on the depth chart? For every third-string Willis McGahee waiting in the wings, for every Vinnie Testaverde sitting until his senior year, there's a freshman like Cook who doesn't want to bide his time on the pine. You can't blame him, of course, but does the transfer trick work? 

It depends on what he wants out of football. If the goal is collegiate or NFL success, the answer is, historically, probably not.

A quick survey pulls up a very short list of players for whom transferring led to on-field glory. Troy Aikman, who jumped ship from Oklahoma to UCLA after injury lost him a starting job, is one. To a lesser extent of success is Brock Berlin, who transferred to Miami when it was clear he wouldn't start at Florida over classmate Rex Grossman.

In the case of recently departed 'Canes, however, none have seen much success even if they have seen the field.  The same holds true for highly-touted recruits across the NCAA who found themselves off the two-deep, like Emmanuel Moody hopping from USC to Florida only to be lost in a sea of backs for a second time.

Out of 38%, the few exceptions prove the rule: perhaps its best to consider whether or not it's more advantageous to be Matt Cassel, whose experience getting top-notch coaching at USC while sitting behind both Carson Palmer and Matt Leinhart served him well enough to be drafted and then step in to start for New England last year, or Freeman, who chose Baylor as the receipient of his supposed League-worthy skills and ended up undrafted.

In Cook's case, he finds himself at Rice University with 5 quarterbacks competing for the top spot, including a guy named Nick Fannuzi who transferred from Alabama in search of PT and hasn't been able to secure a job at Rice, either. In such circumstances as Cook's, you can only say good luck, all but write him off, and move on.

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