Trading Places: A Hypothetical C-USA Trade Deadline

Trades aren’t a thing in college sports. A coach can’t just go up to a student-athlete at Tech and tell them they’ve been traded to ULL. Not only is that not how things work, it would also be the meanest thing you could do to someone.

But, like, what if you could? What if you could trade players at least around a conference?

Well, nobody asked, but this is my post so I’m going to find out exactly what would happen.

I imagine the setup would be similar to baseball, with a trade deadline somewhere near the end of the season. And hey, what do you know, today’s a day near the end of the season!

So let’s say today is the trade deadline. What happens? Who goes where?

One of the things that makes college sports different from professional sports is that you know exactly how long a player can play. For example, senior WR Teddy Veal will not be back in a Bulldog uniform next year. So if you’re a bad team with a few good seniors (*cough cough* Rice), why not “sell” on deadline day, trading away your seniors in exchange for freshmen and sophomores that can help your team in the future?

On the other side of the negotiation table, you have the buyers, who want to win this year. These teams have a chance at success and are willing to trade away some future talent to win games now.

But how do you determine who sells and who buys?

In baseball, the teams with a chance at the postseason are the buyers and the teams that don’t are the sellers. And this makes sense. You’d only trade away a future good player if you had a shot at postseason play now.

But back in C-USA, there are two possible goals for each team:

  1. Get to and win a bowl game
  2. Win the Conference Championship

So those are the goals we will use to determine the buyers and sellers. Let’s take a look at the current state of the conference:

Bowl Eligible Teams:
  • Louisiana Tech
  • UAB
  • North Texas
  • Middle Tennessee
  • FIU
Teams With a Chance:
  • Southern Miss
  • Marshall
  • Charlotte
  • FAU
  • UTSA
Teams with No Hope
  • UTEP
  • Rice
  • ODU
  • WKU

Identifying the Buyers and Sellers

Generally, the teams in the top section will buy, and the teams in the bottom section will sell. Schools like North Texas or Tech are “buyers”, but probably won’t pursue much as they are already bowl eligible, but probably won’t win the West Division (even if it’s still statistically possible)

But let’s take a look at the schools in that middle section to finish classifying the teams:

Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles need two wins in three games to get to a bowl. Go ahead and pencil in a win for the finale against UTEP, but Southern Miss still needs to beat UAB or Tech. The game against Tech is a rivalry game that has gone the Eagles way in recent years (:/), so getting to six wins is definitely possible. I think they buy.

Marshall: The Thundering Herd are favored in all three of their final games, but they only need one win to get to into a bowl. So I can’t see Marshall giving up a lot for games they should win anyway. I think the Herd holds.

Charlotte: There are three games left for 49ers, but they need two wins. Unfortunately, every game left on he schedule is a projected L. The team may have a chance against FIU, but even so it’s not likely they’ll be able to get a second W against FAU or Marshall. They sell.

FAU: The Owls need two wins in their final three, and the team will probably get them. Charlotte and WKU should be the winnable games, but nothing is written in stone. I think they buy and buy hard to solidify their bowl chance.

UTSA: The Roadrunners need to win out, and that just won’t happen. (But feel free to @ me when they do). UTSA sells.

So that was bowl eligibility, but what about teams competing the conference championship?

UAB: The Dragon guys have the Whole Division in the bag. Beyond that, it’s looking like the Blazers will cruise to a victory in the Championship over any team the East puts up. UAB is a very senior heavy team, however. So if next year is going to be a rebuild, you might as well sell the farm to secure a championship. UAB buys hard.

MTSU and FIU are in the heat of a battle for the C-USA East Division. Both would be willing to buy for a chance at a championship.

What’s on the Market

Interestingly, every seller has a relatively young QB, so there aren’t any serious trade targets on the market. But for the other positions, there are a few trade-worthy seniors on selling teams:

RB Austin Walker, Rice

WR Jonathan Duhart, ODU

WR Travis Fulgham, ODU

P Jack Fox, Rice

P Yannis Routsas, UTSA

DL Oshane Ximines, ODU

LB Les Maruo, UTSA

LB Juwan Foggie, Charlotte

The Buyer’s Needs

Needing a RB: Southern Miss, Marshall

Marshall’s Tyler King is actually 4th in C-USA in rushing yards, but as a team, the Herd ranks 10th. Marshall could use another running back to compliment King, but USM needs one more and would be willing to give up more. The Golden Eagles go To The Top of the bidding war for Austin Walker, who ranks 6th in C-USA in rushing yards.

Needing a WR: UAB, FIU

UAB’s passing game is nearly nonexistent. Some of that is the fault of the guy(s) tossing the ball, but bringing in another receiver couldn’t hurt. In our scenario, the Blazers are going all in during the deadline, so they’ll bring in the man with the most receiving yards in C-USA: Jonathan Duhart.

FIU ranks 5th in C-USA in total passing yards, but doesn’t have a receiver ranked higher than 12th. I would expect the Panthers to go after the other big-name receiver, Travis Fulgham, who has the 3rd most receiving yards in the conference.

Needing a Kicker: UAB

Nick Vogel, the Blazer’s kicker, is only 58.3% on the year. If there’s a weak spot on the belly of this dragon, it’s the kicker position. Unfortunately, none of the sellers have an upperclassmen on field goal duty, so there’s nobody for Bill Clark to trade for.

Needing a Punter: USM, UAB, FAU

We have three buyers and two sellers. I wish I actually went to class paid more attention when I took ECON. But I think that means we have a bidding war.

UAB is getting one of the punters, only because of their willingness to give up future seasons for this one. And at that point, might as well get the best one. Jack Fox, who has the 2nd longest punt average in C-USA, goes to the Blazers.

That leaves one punter for USM and FAU to share. I would suggest FAU gets the remaining punter (who ranks 3rd in C-USA) on weekdays and alternating weekends, but I don’t think the teams would go for it.

Southern Miss had to give up a bit to land RB Austin Walker, so I don’t think they’ll try as hard for a punter. Florida Atlantic lands Yannis Routsas.

Needing a Defensive Lineman: FIU and FAU

Neither of the Florida twins have a lineman with 5+ sacks or 7+ Tackles-For-Loss (TFLs). Oshane Ximines goes above and beyond, ranking 3rd in TFLs and 2nd in sacks in the conference. But which team lands the big guy?

I think Ximines ends up with the Owls. Lane Kiffin usually seems to get his way somehow.

Needing a Linebacker: FIU, UAB

FIU has a solid LB in Sage Lewis, but could always use more help. In the Underdog Dynasty linebacker preview, the Panthers were near the bottom in Lineback-er-al expectations (which is a totally real metric). I wouldn’t expect FIU to give up a lot, but enough to get Les Maruo.

I know I’ve just been giving UAB everything (just like the CUSA front office does, hey-ooh!), but this is a position the Blazers actually need. UAB ranks 9th in C-USA (tied with Tech) at interceptions, so why not bring in the guy with the most interceptions in C-USA. The Blazers get Juwan “The Fog Machine” Foggie.

Conclusion

In retrospect, I’m glad trading isn’t a thing in college football. It’s hard enough watching UAB win football games. It would be even harder to watch them create the college football version of the Monstars from Space Jam.

When I had the idea for this post at the beginning of the season, I was hoping Tech would be in more of a buyer’s spot. But with a bowl appearance guaranteed and almost no shot at a C-USA Championship, it would work best for the Bulldogs to just sit with what they have.

Or trade J’Mar because a bunch of people said so in all caps on Twitter.

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