Take 5: Kyler Murray is hurting his career, transfer portal is making football fun


Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group/TNS

Former Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts announced he will transfer to Oklahoma.

By Pitt News Staff

From college football to the NFL to WWE, it’s been a busy week. The NCAA Transfer Portal has been filled with names, with top quarterbacks Tate Martell and Jalen Hurts on the move. Kyler Murray officially said he will enter the NFL Draft, foregoing the MLB at this time. The big question is, will it be worth it? Pitt also hired a new offensive coordinator, but he may not be enough to save Kenny Pickett.

The Oakland Screw Job

2018 Heisman trophy winner and Oklahoma Sooner quarterback Kyler Murray declared for the 2019 NFL Draft Monday afternoon, sending shock waves through the NFL as it was expected Murray was going to play baseball instead.

He was selected ninth overall in the 2018 MLB Draft by the Oakland Athletics and turned down a $4.66 million signing bonus in favor of the NFL.

Many NFL analysts and insiders, most notably Adam Schefter, believe Murray will be selected in the first round. If this scenario plays out, Murray would make history and become the first player to ever be selected in the first round of both the MLB and NFL drafts. It would be an honor to witness history on draft night, but there is no guarantee Murray will even be at the draft.

Even though Murray declared for the draft, the Oakland Athletics can still offer him a new contract and get him to attend spring training instead of the NFL Combine. There were talks that Murray was in pursuit of a $15 million offer by the A’s for him to commit to baseball. If the Athletics can sweeten the deal, they may be able to pry Murray away from football.

Murray was the most dynamic player in all of college football last season and was well-deserving of the Heisman trophy. You can’t teach athleticism, but you also can’t teach height. Murray stands at a mere 5-foot-10 and is undersized for a prototypical NFL quarterback. Sure, he can run and he has a decent arm, but look at where that took Robert Griffin III — nowhere.

On April 25 in Nashville, Tennessee, Murray will not hear his name called on Day 1. Dwayne Haskins and Daniel Jones will be selected before Murray as he drops to the second round, missing out on that first-round quarterback money.

Murray loses because he won’t become the high draft selection he hoped for and the Oakland A’s lose because they wasted their No. 9 pick in the 2018 MLB Draft. This moment in history will be known as “The Oakland Screw Job.”

-Tyler Moran

Brady continues to bamboozle

It was widely believed this would be the year we finally started to see the dynasty that is the New England Patriots crash back down to Earth. The Patriots finished the regular season with an 11-5 record, with all five losses curiously at the hands of teams that missed the playoffs. Coming off an MVP campaign, legendary quarterback Tom Brady had a pedestrian year and it looked like Father Time was finally catching up to him. In addition, monster tight end Rob Gronkowski looked like a shell of his former self.

Alas, it was not to be. The Patriots demolished an impressive Chargers team 41-28 in the divisional round of the playoffs. Brady completed 77 percent of his passes for more than 300 yards, picking apart the Chargers with short throw after short throw, dinking and dunking his way to victory.

The fact that the Patriots are still dominating at this stage in Brady’s career is not a testament to their or his greatness, but to the lack of competence in others. Los Angeles ranked in the top 10 in total defense and boasts Pro Bowl players in defensive end Melvin Ingram and safety Derwin James, not to mention studs in defensive end Joey Bosa and cornerback Casey Heyward.

A defense with these types of big names has no business being exposed the way it was. The Chargers sat in a zone defense rather than man up against the Patriots’ very average group of skill players. LA gave up 129 yards and three scores to rookie running back Sony Michel and 15 receptions — yes, you read that right — to fellow tailback James White. The Chargers’ coaching staff was unable to come up with a defensive scheme capable of getting a single sack.

Yes, the Patriots are good. No, they’re not this good. Opposing coaches just aren’t smart enough to figure them out. I’m not saying I have all the answers, but it’s clear that the majority of NFL teams don’t either, when that’s what they’re getting paid millions to do. These men should be thoroughly embarrassed.

-Nick Carlisano

Enter the portal

Jalen Hurts, former quarterback of the Alabama Crimson Tide, has announced he is taking his talents to join the Sooners of the University of Oklahoma. Hurts was benched during last year’s National Championship in favor of quarterback prodigy Tua Tagovailoa. Being only a true first-year at the time, Tagovailoa went on to capture the title for the Tide and the writing was all but on the wall for Hurts. Hurts spent this season, much like the second half of last season’s title game, on the bench and watching Tagovailoa box him out of Alabama football glory.

Realizing his time at Alabama was coming to an end, Hurts was able to submit himself to the NCAA transfer portal, where he essentially became the college version of a professional free agent. Other football programs were able to contact Hurts and try and recruit him to their schools and Hurts could take his pick of universities that would have him.

Just like Hurts, there are several other instances of college quarterbacks recognizing their diminishing playing time and entering the portal this off-season. For example, former five-star recruit and Ohio State Buckeye, Tate Martell, has also just announced his transfer from OSU to the University of Miami. This, of course, is in response to another former five-star recruit, Justin Fields, transferring to Ohio State from the University of Georgia.

While the internet has had a field day with the concept and name of the transfer portal, college football fans cannot deny how exciting this is making the game. Instead of the strongest programs having a wealth of four- and five-star quarterbacks who may never see the field, this talent is being dispersed to programs around the nation. Expect the transfer portal to become an even bigger phenomenon in the coming years as it continues to facilitate the transfers of star-quality players.

-Adin Link

Balor losing to Lesnar is best for business

After an untimely shoulder injury forced Finn Balor to relinquish the WWE Universal Championship just one day after winning it in August 2016, he hasn’t done anything interesting since.

Now that WWE CEO Vince McMahon and his family are running both Raw and SmackDown — emphasizing how much change is needed in order to boost ratings — Balor’s I-never-actually-lost-the-championship rematch clause is no longer valid.

Somehow, though, on Monday night, Balor managed to not only take down Jinder Mahal after a pre-match assault, but also beat Baron Corbin, Drew McIntyre and John Cena in a No. 1 contender match for the Universal title. He officially and finally clawed his way back into Raw’s main title picture after more than two years.

After the match, Cena — a longtime company man — shook Balor’s hand, raised his arm and said he endorsed Balor in his Royal Rumble match against Universal Champion Brock Lesnar.

I’ve never been a positive person and I’m not starting now. Balor is clearly going to lose to Lesnar in their title match, no questions asked. After a few minutes of using his quickness to avoid Lesnar’s powerful blows, Balor will eventually get steamrolled and Lesnar will retain the Universal championship.

But that’s a good thing!

Since Balor has been out of the main event picture for years now, having him beat Lesnar just doesn’t make sense and isn’t believable. But even just being in the running will keep him relevant and build his credibility to eventually win the title after Wrestlemania.

Not to mention, having an endorsement from Cena is one of the biggest forms of respect, and will go a long way for keeping McMahon high on Balor. Expect to see the first-ever Universal champion with a very lengthy title run later this year after beating someone who isn’t nicknamed “The Beast Incarnate.”

-Alexa Marzina

Building the Pickett Fence

Kenny Pickett is an interesting case as a quarterback, and this past season, watching him under center was a mixed bag of emotions. During some games, it seemed he had an affinity for running the ball and it appeared that he would skip his wide receiver progressions. On the other hand, Pickett made some absolutely beautiful throws, showcasing his potential as a passer.

Recently, Pitt hired Mark Whipple as its offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. As a man who has coached quarterbacks like Ben Roethlisberger and Donovan McNabb, it is incredibly enticing to think about an improvement to Pickett’s passing game.
While Pitt did end up losing to Clemson 42-10, the first half was closer than most had probably expected. Despite the 51-6 loss to Penn State, Pitt was only down 14-6 at halftime. In both of those games, Pickett had a poor outing and did not provide the offense much balance. If he had been able to make more quality throws or had called efficient pass plays, the scores most likely would have been much closer.

Let’s hope Whipple enables Pickett to unlock his potential as the Panthers’ quarterback. With a new offensive coordinator and improved play from Pickett, I don’t expect Pitt to lose in blowout fashion next year.

-Sami Abu-Obaid