College football now has a true free agency market, as certain players can move freely from one FBS team to another without having to sit out a season. The graduate transfer rule has been a godsend for teams in desperate need for a quick fix.

Or is it really?

It's of little surprise that the graduate transfer market is dominated by quarterbacks. There are two simple reasons for this:

1) Quarterbacks, generally the smartest guys on the field, are most likely to graduate in four years or even a semester or two early, to take advantage of the rule.
2) An upperclassman quarterback with playing experience is much more likely to immediately help a team than a player at any other position.

The graduate transfer rule actually has been around since 2006, but in its first five seasons only 11 quarterbacks used it. That changed after 2011, when Russell Wilson, who had a mostly pedestrian career at N.C. State, led Wisconsin to a Big Ten title and Rose Bowl berth while finishing his college eligibility as a Badger. The grad transfer market boomed after that.

Following Wilson, who has gone on to lead the Seattle Seahawks to back-to-back Super Bowl appearances, a throng of quarterbacks took advantage of the rule and jumped ships. Last season alone 15 quarterbacks went to new schools and played immediately, and five of them led their respective teams to bowl appearances.

This year's market is headlined by several big names leaving high-profile programs. Everett Golson, who led Notre Dame to the 2012 BCS championship game, just picked Florida State this week and will be vying for the job to replace Jameis Winston. Jake Rudock, Iowa's former starting QB, jumped at a chance to play for Michigan's new coach Jim Harbaugh. Jeff Driskel, the face of the ill-fated Will Muschamp regime at Florida, has landed at Louisiana Tech.

But the most intriguing free agent is still in the market. Braxton Miller has a couple of months to decide whether he wants to return to Ohio State or go lead another program in 2015. Miller was a preseason Heisman candidate in 2014 before a shoulder injury in camp forced him to miss the entire season. He has since been usurped by both J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones, who led the Buckeyes to the inaugural College Football Playoff championship. Would Miller, who already graduated, return to Ohio State to be merely the, gulp, third stringer?

So far, Miller has decided to stay put, as did Stanford's Kevin Hogan. But the transfer window remains open all the way until fall camp in August and more than a handful of quarterbacks are still deciding their destinations.

The question, then, must be asked. Does a grad transfer QB really help a program?

A former starting quarterback takes advantage of the grad transfer rule typically for two reasons:

1) He lost his job either because of injury, substandard performance or disagreement with his coaches;
2) He's not good enough to be a top NFL prospect.

Of all the grad transfer quarterbacks since the rule was enacted, only Wilson has had any kind of an NFL career. And he was only a third-round pick and not nearly as highly regarded coming into the draft as fellow QBs Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Ryan Tannehill. You're very unlikely to get a can't-miss talent with a grad transfer, mostly you're looking for serviceable.

And since a grad transfer QB typically only has a year (at most two) of eligibility left, he can't be much more than a quick fix. Most of the time, it's a bridge-the-gap situation where a coach isn't quite willing to trust a true freshman or a former backup with little playing experience.

Some of the quarterbacks did post respectable numbers and helped their teams to winning seasons:

-- Ben Mauk led Cincinnati to a 10-3 record in 2007 after transferring from Wake Forest.
-- Tyler Murphy led Boston College to a 7-6 record in 2014 after transferring from Florida.
-- Clint Trickett actually started 18 games over two seasons (2013-14) at West Virginia after transferring from Florida State.

Those are exceptions, however, as many more grad transfers failed to pan out. Some managed to torpedo an already floundering program (Dayne Crist, Notre Dame to Kansas; Drew Allen, Oklahoma to Syracuse) while others simply couldn't win the job even against mediocre competition (Danny O'Brien, Maryland to Wisconsin; Jake Heaps, Kansas to Miami).

This season promises to bring more scrutiny to the grad transfer QB market simply because of the presence of household names at marquee programs. Besides Golson, Rudock, Driskel and possibly Miller, there's still Jacob Coker, who left FSU to go to Alabama last season only to be beaten out by Blake Sims. He's back for his final year of eligibility to fight for the right to start for Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin.

We know the rule appears to be here to stay despite opposition from the ranks of administrators and some coaches. The NCAA, already under siege from multiple lawsuits challenging its authority, can ill afford to rescind whatever little freedom it's granted the student-athletes. And most coaches, being what they are, will try to exploit every rule to their advantage.

So the grad transfer market will only become more popular even given its so-far pretty paltry output. But just heed this warning: Buyer Beware.

-- Samuel Chi is the managing editor of RealClearSports.com and proprietor of PlayoffGuru.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ThePlayoffGuru.

Cincinnati is betting that the way to recruits' hearts is through their mouth. And the magic key?

Chipotle.

According to this tweeted photo of a mailed recruiting flyer, Cincinnati's unique sales pitch is to inform recruits of the football stadium's proximity to the closest Chipotle.

Breathe easy, potential Bearcats: It's less than 2 blocks away.


This particular mailing was sent to Ben Skowronek, a three-star wide receiver from Fort Wayne, Indiana. He hasn't announced his decision yet (Rivals reports he has multiple scholarship offers from schools including Boston College, Purdue, Northwestern and North Carolina State) but if Skowronek is a burrito lover, maybe Cincinnati just tipped the scale.

Less than two blocks, Skowronek. You could throw a football and hit the Chipotle. Better yet, you could throw a burrito.

The NFL draft is all about procuring the best talent from college football. And what happens at the draft tells so much about not just the past college football season, but the upcoming one as well.

Granted, the best college football players don't always turn out to be great pros and some Canton enshrinees had very pedestrian college careers. But taken with totality through history, the NFL draft provides a very good indication on the relative strength of college football conferences and programs. You don't win championships -- at any level -- without talent.

So it should come as no surprise that for the ninth year in a row, the SEC led all conferences in total draft picks. This not so coincidentally mirrored the SEC's dominance in college football. In those nine years, the SEC won seven consecutive BCS titles (from 2006-2012) before finally vacating the perch the past two seasons.

But the SEC's two-year national title drought may not be coming to an end this next season, and that's among several interesting revelations from the 2015 NFL draft:

1. The SEC's talent advantage is shrinking

Despite leading all conferences with 54 players taken in the draft, the SEC got there not so much with top-end talent but with many second-day role players who may or may not make it on the Opening Day roster. The Pac-12 and the ACC had more first-round picks (nine each) than the SEC. And the Pac-12 led all conferences with 25 picks in the first three rounds, three more than the SEC. (And keep in mind that the Pac-12 has two fewer programs than the SEC's 14.)

Using the methodology Draftpoints, with draftees weighted based on where they were selected, only four SEC schools were ranked in the top 15, topped by Florida at No. 4. That the Gators grossly underachieved despite considerable talent under Will Muschamp is no secret -- and hence why he was canned after four years. But overall the SEC just isn't consistently recruiting and developing the best players as it did in the late 2000s and early 2010s. 

This trend is expected to continue and therefore it would not at all be a surprise if the SEC fails to win the national title for a third straight year and miss out on the championship game for a second consecutive season.

2. Florida State has a rough road ahead

First, let's just acknowledge that the Seminoles' two-year run of 27-1, with one national title and another national semifinal appearance, was no fluke. FSU led all schools with 11 draftees, including the top pick quarterback Jameis Winston, and dwarfed everyone in the aforementioned Draftpoints system. 

And not only just that the Seminoles were as good as advertised, they actually dominated a conference that was considerably underrated by college football pundits. The ACC finished second overall to the SEC with 47 total draftees and tied with the Pac-12 with nine first-rounders. The top three schools according to Draftpoints all came from the ACC - FSU, Miami and Louisville -- with Clemson checking in at No. 12.

The bad news for the Seminoles here, of course, is that most of Jimbo Fisher's great hauls in 2011 and '12 is gone and there's a daunting rebuilding project ahead. Never mind replacing  Winston at quarterback, Fisher will have to find replacements for nearly half of his starting lineup in 2015.

3. TCU and Baylor will dominate a weak Big 12

Neither TCU nor Baylor made the inaugural College Football Playoff field despite finishing as co-champions of the Big 12. While not having a conference title game was a factor, that they dominated a soft conference didn't help, either.

Both TCU and Baylor will have a vast majority of their starters returning, with only two players taken in the draft from each school (though one was Baylor QB Bryce Petty). But while both teams relied heavily on underclassmen last year, their Big 12 opponents clearly did not possess an abundance of talent. Only two Big 12 players were taken in the first round, seven in the first three rounds and 25 overall -- all dead last among Power 5 conferences.

The perception that the Big 12 is a weak conference surely won't be bolstered by the draft and that will influence the selection committee's decision at the season's end. Either TCU or Baylor might need to run the table to avoid another playoff snub.

4. Pac-12 is the most balanced and competitive conference

Oregon was favored to end the conference's decade-long national title drought, only to be denied by Ohio State in the national title game. But the Ducks had to battle through an absolute gauntlet as the Pac-12 has proved to be the toughest conference from top to bottom.

In the 2015 Draft, the Pac-12 led with picks in the first round and also the first three rounds (despite having two fewer teams than the SEC, ACC and Big Ten). In terms of Draftpoints, the Pac-12 placed six schools in the top 15, more than any other conference. And Arizona isn't even among them as the Wildcats didn't have a single player drafted since the bulk of their starters will return from a team that won the Pac-12 South last year and played in the Fiesta Bowl.

The Pac-12 is surging in this armed race with its old standard-bearer returning to the national championship race. USC had two first-round picks in the draft, pushing its all-time total to 79 and overall draftees to 489 -- both No. 1 in the history of NFL draft. But with the Trojans unchained from NCAA sanctions and having a full complement of scholarships for the first time in four years, they already reloaded with the nation's top-ranked recruiting class this spring.

5. Ohio State has a good chance to repeat as champions

The Big Ten had a pedestrian draft, with three first-round picks, 15 in the first three rounds and 35 overall, all placing fourth among Power 5 conferences, only ahead of the Big 12. The school that performed best in the draft is Ohio State, with five players selected, the highest being WR Devin Smith going in the second round.

This is all great news for the defending national champions, who will be shortlisted for the playoff once again.

The Buckeyes already return a team with at least 15 starters, including Heisman candidate RB Ezekiel Elliott and a trio of quarterbacks that all could be starting for another FBS program. They do not face a stiff competition in the Big Ten especially with their archrival Michigan wallowing in mediocrity. The Wolverines, though still the winningest program in college football history, just went a school-record five years without a first-round pick and has had only one first rounder since Jake Long went No. 1 overall in 2008.

Help is on the way for Michigan, though, via the NFL. Jim Harbaugh will turn the fortunes of his alma mater around and reboot the rivalry. It's just a matter of when -- but maybe not in 2015.

-- Samuel Chi is the managing editor of RealClearSports and proprietor of PlayoffGuru.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ThePlayoffGuru.

University of Alabama at Birmingham Football is no more. In a sport without player salaries, money put the final nail in the UAB Blazers' coffin.

On the surface, the conversation of the Blazers' gridiron death has revolved around UAB President Ray Watts, the University of Alabama Board of Trustees and UAB boosters. The forgotten actors: The students.

Two senior UAB digital media students, Kourtney Cowart and Michael Shikany, wasted no time capturing the immediate effects of the football program cancellation. As part of a project for ethnographic filmmaking, Cowart and Shikany produced a 12-minute documentary short on the end of UAB Football called "4th Down."

4th Down by Kourtney Cowart & Michael Shikany from UAB Media Studies on Vimeo.

The video highlights the final season of UAB football with interviews with players, coaches, faculty, students and fans. Former UAB star and current Carolina Panthers running back Darrin Reaves is among those interviewed.

Cowart and Shikany also put into perspective the origins of UAB Football and other Blazers athletic programs. The documentary updates the public on recent events at UAB since the cancellation and depicts the #FreeUAB movement. Some individuals in Birmingham still believe UAB Football can make it back as early as 2016.

"The events of the cancellation have really been the biggest rally for unity all across campus," Cowart told ThePostGame. "I would say it even extends across the Birmingham community. When there's an injustice, people come together to fight for what they believe in and that's exactly what we're doing."

Cowart and Shikany debuted "4th Down" to the public last Thursday. Cowart, who has family members employed by the university and has been around UAB since her childhood, says the immediate response on campus has been "phenomenal."

Adds Shikany, who worked as a student assistant from 2011 to the team's demise: "It's just something I felt very passionate about, and people need to know who it's affecting and how it's affecting them."

Cowart and Shikany took "4th Down" to UAB Faculty Athletics Representative Frank Messina before showing it to the public. Messina insisted he watch it twice.

As for the future of the video, Cowart and Shikany are hoping to gain exposure for both themselves and the UAB community. "4th Down" is a student voice for the Blazers' football cancellation.

"No one from either the NFL it NCAA has contacted me," Cowart says. "I would love for them to do so! There are so many layers to this story that people don't realize. Michael and I joke about making it on to ESPN's "30 for 30," [and] I think that a national spotlight will help bring justice. How about it, ESPN?"

As for 2015, it is definite that UAB will not have a football program. Cowart and Shikany graduate in December, so in their final fall, the "4th Down" developers will attend a Blazers Football game.

On a side note, here is former UAB linebacker Derek Slaughter wearing his helmet over his cap Saturday's UAB graduation:


Props to this UAB football player at the morning commencement. Congrats, class of 2015! #FreeUAB

A video posted by UAB (@instagramuab) on

Some say he's crazy and others believe he's "clinically insane," but Michigan Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh is nothing if not determined.

The former Stanford and San Francisco 49ers coach, who will do just about anything to motivate his players, showed serious perseverance in scoring a date with his wife, Sarah.

Harbaugh opens up about his courtship in an interview with HBO Real Sports correspondent Andrea Kremer. He says he met Sarah, whom he married in 2008, at a restaurant. He asked for her number and proceeded to call her nine -- yes, nine -- times before getting a return call.

"I could tell she was a winner all the way," Harbaugh says.

That is dedication. The fact that Harbaugh remembers the exact number, he called her nine times, might mean it's something he's proud of. And he should be, seeing as he got what he wanted.

The couple has two daughters and a son. They've also starred in this hilarious Dockers commercial after Jim received some criticism for his less-than-stylish wardrobe:

Incidentally, Harbaugh was asked about his khakis during his interview with Kremer. He said he wears them mostly because of convenience.

"I like the khakis," Harbaugh says. "If I wear them every day, I don't have to spend time thinking about what to wear. It saves 5-10, at least five minutes, maybe 15 if you're just standing in front of your closet, trying to think of, otherwise, what the right or appropriate outfit is to wear."

For another clip from the special, in which Harbaugh talks about growing up in Ann Arbor while his dad served as an assistant coach for the Wolverines, see here.

Jim Harbaugh's homecoming to Ann Arbor as Michigan coach will be one of the major storylines in the upcoming college football season. Even before Harbaugh became a star quarterback for the Wolverines, he was a fixture on the sideline because his dad, Jack, was an assistant coach at the school.

After a messy split with the 49ers, Harbaugh gets a fresh start to restore Michigan football to glory. The Wolverines' on-the-field struggles exposed an even larger management failure within the athletic department. But getting the football program back on the beam will go a long way to solving many of those problems.

Here's a preview of the Real Sports report with correspondent Andrea Kremer that premieres Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET/PT:

At UAB, college football is history. The school cancelled its own program after this season, becoming the first Division-I school to bow out of football since 1995.

But the school is embracing its transition to has-been with open arms: its course catalog will now feature a class titled, "History of College Football."

Few schools are better-equipped to handle such curriculum, as most others are busy worrying about football of the present and future. But UAB Blazers students can now replace their Saturday tailgating and football parties with delving into the written history of the game.

Actually, that's not quite right. The course will be offered in the summer, so the fall will remain football-free.

Nevertheless, students have an opportunity for rich engagement with the subject of football.

According to AL.com, the class will "explore the fascinating world of college football: the great teams, dynasties, coaches, players, pageantry and the game's great and enduring rivalries."

That includes some of the more unseemly aspects of the sport, such as its evolution into a major business and the scandals that have plagued it over the years.

But will UAB be used as a case study of its high costs and money-minded shift? Let's hope the local perspective is on the syllabus.

For those who aren't aware, UAB decided to drop its football program last year after the school concluded that football was not a commercially viable sport. The school was facing a shortfall of millions of dollars to keep the school up-and-running, and even efforts to raise funds in support of the program couldn't come close to rescuing the program.

Before UAB, the last school to close its football program was Pacific almost 20 years ago.

He was Ohio State's best player in its most important game of the season. He torched Nick Saban's vaunted defense like no back had for a decade. Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer called him "a monster."

And yet, despite all of this, star running back Ezekiel Elliott cannot go pro.

Elliott graduated high school in 2013, and because the NFL stipulates that a player must be three years removed from high school graduation in order to enter the draft, Elliott would be barred from submitting his name for this year's selection.

This isn't a new rule, and it has been challenged before. But with Elliott's stellar turn in Monday's championship game -- he had 36 carries for 246 yards and four touchdowns -- some are wondering whether Elliott should think about turn pro.

Both Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk and Sean Gregory of Time tackled the subject, with Florio saying Elliott should take 2015 off and Gregory saying Elliott should be allowed to enter the draft.

Florio and Gregory both note that Elliott's stock will likely never be as high as it is now. And with an ever-present risk for injury -- former Georgia running back Todd Gurley and South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore both suffered knee injuries that affected their draft stock -- it seems risky for Elliott to have to play another year in college. Florio says Elliott should leave the Buckeyes and prepare for the 2016 draft. Gregory says its unfair to bar Elliott from the draft.

Of course, Elliott isn't the first Ohio State running back to raise questions about the NFL's age restrictions after a strong national championship performance. A decade ago Maurice Clarrett sued the NFL for not letting him enter the 2004 draft. As a true freshman, Clarrett was the leading rusher on Ohio State's 2002 national championship team.

Clarrett's story has become a cautionary tale. He lost the appeal and was forced to wait until 2005. He was selected in the third round of that year's draft by the Denver Broncos but he never played a down in the NFL. He encountered various legal and financial woes after getting cut by the Broncos.

Clarrett on Wednesday offered his opinion on the topic in an Instagram post:

The lawyer who represented Clarrett in his failed attempt to go pro early, Alan Milstein, apparently isn't on the same page as his former client. Milstein told Time that he thinks the NFL's rule is illegal.

“The only reason a team wouldn’t draft Elliott is because they’ve all said we won’t draft him if you won’t draft him,” Milstein said. “That’s the essence of an anti-trust conspiracy.”

Of course, this will only become an issue if Elliott expresses any desire to turn pro. And as Fox Sports' Stewart Mandel notes, that hasn't happened yet:


1

Ever since the Jerry Sandusky scandal broke loose, the Penn State community has insisted on one thing: Joe Paterno and Nittany Lion football were not to blame. Paterno was and is -- perhaps now in an official capacity -- a saint, and Penn State was his church. One serial child molester among the lot does not implicate Paterno as the leader of a corrupt system, a maligned football program that uses its lofty status to incubate criminals from their actions.

Whatever you think of Joe Paterno and the degree of his culpability in Sandusky's no-less-than-45 counts of sexual abuse, it's clear that some fault exists. Oblivion is not the same as willful disregard, but the end result is basically the same. At any rate, the world came down hard on Paterno, with intense pressure from outsiders pushing the university into a quick firing and disassociation with its only head football coach since 1966.

The attempts, which claim some paltry renumeration or justice for Sandusky's victims, left Penn State and Joe Paterno devastated. After Paterno's firing, the NCAA stripped him of 111 wins that came during the period of Sandusky's abuses -- and after the point at which Paterno should have put two and two together. His statue outside of Beaver Stadium was taken down despite protests against the move. Penn State football escaped the ultimate punishment of having the NCAA shut the program down entirely; instead, it was hit with a four-year postseason ban and a loss of scholarships.

Public outcry was ear-splitting, particularly on social media -- the Internet Outrage Machine spun out a hunger for retribution that could never be sated (reasonably, if you consider that Sandusky's crimes could not be undone). The university was levied a $60 million fine for its central role as a facilitator and, in some cases, scene of the crime in Sandusky's various abuses. Its damaged reputation will likely take generations to restore, although residents of Happy Valley seem to have taken an insulating "us against the world" mentality.

The idea was to obliterate Penn State, respond to unprecedented tragedy with unprecedented consequence. At the time, it seemed like those measures were being taken.

And they were. But now, that strong response is quietly undergoing revision.

We're barely three years away from the outbreak of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, and the tone of conversation surrounding the saga has changed quite a bit. The NCAA has shrugged aside its almost merciless bent on justice -- or public relations, you make the interpretation -- and as of Friday restored the 111 Paterno wins it stripped from the program. The four-year bowl ban was already reduced to two -- this year, the program won the 2014 Pinstripe Bowl -- and plans to restore football scholarships ahead of schedule are already underway.

The $60 million fine remains, but Penn State and the NCAA are reportedly discussing how those funds will be applied -- the university wants the money to help fund child protection and other services. And while the Paterno statue outside of Beaver Stadium remains in storage at an undisclosed location, the Happy Valley community last spring approved funding for a new statue to go up in the center of town.

In other words, Penn State is no longer the bad guy. That's not an observation; it's the implication of the NCAA's actions and the public's relative lack of concern with how Paterno's legacy is handled. The Internet Outrage Machine that spun out swift and weighty backlash, that wanted Paterno burned at the stake right alongside Jerry Sandusky, has moved on. Time has healed, or at least it has distracted, and the conditions are right for Penn State and the NCAA to do what they want, as opposed to what is politically correct.

It seems a little suspicious that certain adjustments to those dispensed consequences -- particularly the restoration of Paterno's wins -- came after a period of leaking the possibilities out to the media. You have to think the NCAA and Penn State were watching the public reaction, interested in using those leaks as a barometer for what kind of backlash they might face. The response, of course, was tepid: Some voices were in support of the wins restoration, some were against the move. But none of them were loud. None posed a threat.

The fine is no small thing, granted. Even so, life within the domain of Penn State football is precariously close to something like normal.

Here's the lingering unknown: Is that the right thing?

Anyone supporting this drift toward normalcy will say that what has happened won't be forgotten. That's a pretty safe assumption. They'll say punishment has been dispensed, which is true: Penn State was financially rocked, Paterno died in disgrace just months after he was fired, and Sandusky is in jail for life. They'll say Penn State has done everything it can to prevent something like this from happening again, which is just about true. They'll say nothing more can be done, and that it's not fair to inflict pain just for pain's sake.

Fair enough. And maybe some of the NCAA and Penn State's actions were knee-jerk products of some of the most intense public outcry we've ever seen -- driven, of course, by social media's then-blooming political power. But perhaps the span of three short years has distorted the scale of atonement we are seeking. To swim through hell for three years only to resurface at the pearly gates of a new day seems insincere to the national nightmare that took place in Happy Valley.

This isn't just a Penn State football issue: People across the country were rocked not by the scandal itself, and certainly not because of any belief or faith they held in Joe Paterno. They reacted out of the fear of such a tragedy's possibility, in such a public and presumably safe place, among leaders of young men, around the corner from a football power whose personal brand was doing things the right way.

Atonement doesn't simply mean "make sure this doesn't happen again." It doesn't simply mean "suffer." And it sure as hell doesn't mean "Respond in a manner that will silence your critics."

Atonement, in this case, demands that Penn State, the NCAA and everyone involved make sure that the response fits the scale of the crimes. The crimes were enormous. The prospect of it reoccurring anywhere cannot be tolerated. The seriousness of the issue needs to be emphasized, and this expedited repeal process currently ongoing doesn't seem to be a response that fits the circumstances.

In three years, apparently, we've decided that some of our actions were excessive. Impulsive. We took it hard on Joe Paterno and Penn State.

Now, the NCAA wants to recant. And it isn't facing much scrutiny over it.

We aren't getting the consistency we deserve from how the Penn State scandal continues to be viewed. But, then again, those voices that called for every head in Happy Valley aren't rising to the occasion, either. Maybe a numbness has set in; maybe emotion reactions are finally giving way to more reasoned, measured responses.

The tone regarding Penn State has changed. The legacy of Joe Paterno is being rebuilt, brick by brick. It's clear the NCAA was overzealous in jumping to certain punishments, the wins removal included.

In doing so, the organization compromised its ability to effectively deliver punishments in the manner and measure that Penn State -- and Paterno -- deserved.

There's no trophy for this honor, but that's OK: The money is enough. Ohio State has emerged as the most valuable college football program in the country, and it's not even close, according to a recent study.

According to a finance professor at Indiana University-Purdue University, the Buckeyes football program is worth more than $1.1 billion -- by far the best valuation for any college football program. The next best is Michigan, with a valuation just shy of $1 billion.

In third place was Texas, which had topped the professor's list of valuations from last year. Texas' monetary valuation increased by almost $100 from last year's figures, but huge gains in revenue for both Ohio State and Michigan propelled those programs ahead of the Longhorns, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The inflation of sports franchise valuations, spurred on by the last year's sale of the Los Angeles Clippers for a record $2 billion, also inflated figures for college football programs. Last year's rankings featured no teams worth more than $900 million; this year, four programs topped that mark.

There can be a lot of disparity among those figures, too. While Nebraska and Penn State joined Ohio State and Michigan in placing four Big Ten programs in the top 11 valuations nationwide, fellow Big Ten institution Rutgers ranked a measly 67th out of 116 programs, with an intrinsic value of just $62.7 million.

Texas' fall from the top, though -- despite major gains in value -- highlight how volatile the rankings can be. The intrinsic value for each program was reached by analyzing revenues against expenses along with observed risks and growth projections.

At the bottom of the list was Louisiana-Monroe, with a valuation of just $6.4 million.

If that doesn't make it clear that college football is a big-time industry, nothing else will.

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