The dominant preseason theme this year in college football is that the race for the national championship is "wide open".
If so (for all we know a dominant team could emerge in week one and never look back), then wouldn't it be interesting if roster trades could be made in college football? Much like in the professional sports, successful teams might consider trading valuable younger players for a more dominant seasoned star on another team in hopes of ascending the national ranks.
***Please Note: I am not advocating trades in college football, this is purely hypothetical and not to be taken seriously***
Under such a scenario, I doubt many trades would actually happen, but if they did, I think an obvious pattern would emerge:
-Teams trading from positions of strength and depth to address weaknesses. For example, Notre Dame surrendering skill players to shore up any of several positions on its defense.
-Absolutely no trades involving starting quarterbacks and few if any involving second stringers or hotshot underclass quarterbacks.
-No trades within one's conference or against foes who would be on that season's schedule.
With those in mind, I leave to you the hypothetical of what trades could be made between teams if they were to follow the above rules and were able to ignore the "sit one year" transfer rules currently in place?
Ideally we could see power teams trading amongst each other instead of the stars for prospects styled trading that happens so much in major league baseball.
I'll start off with one example and then we can go from there (or just ignore this entry altogether).
Strengths---mobile veteran quarterback, talented offense that scores points. Blue chip recruits all along a talented if relatively unknown defense. No urgent roster gaps to speak of, but can improve at a handful of spots.
The current line of thinking is that Ohio State's defense is in trouble after having lost nine player to the NFL. However, it appears many of this year's new starters in fact have starting experience from seasons past and some talented young stars (linebacker Marcus Freeman among them) will fill the remaining positions.
One position I think the Buckeyes could significantly improve upon is at receiver. They have the amazing Ted Ginn returning, along with Anthony Gonzalez set to start and backups in Roy Hall and Albert Dukes. It's a good group but there isn't a dominant possession receiver to be found. Gonzalez looks more comfortable as a third option in my eyes than as a lead receiver.
What's interesting is that in recent years the Buckeyes have been hard after taller receivers. They in fact had at one time secured (oh so briefly) the "silent" verbal commitment of New Jersey's Dwayne Jarrett before he eventually ended up at USC.
They followed that up by recruiting yet another tall (6-4/213) possession receiver last year in California's David Ausberry, another USC commitment. Clearly this indicates a trend that the coaches are looking for that type of receiver (making pitches literally from coast-to-coast) and have yet to secure such a commitment.
Ideally the Buckeyes would be on the lookout for a Jarrett or perhaps Georgia Tech's Calvin Johnson, but both are franchise-type players and no school would ever surrender such a player without an incredible offer in return. So scratch those two off the list.
Perhaps they might offer a reserve defensive lineman or two to USC to try and recapture Ausberry or perhaps Patrick Turner. But I doubt it because Jarrett is likely off to the NFL this year, Turner is his likely replacement and Ausberry will be the man after that. Big, fast (relatively speaking) receivers are simply difficult to come by, and USC's smart enough to know they've gotten very lucky in securing the commitments in rapid succession of Mike Williams, Jarrett, Turner and Ausberry.
With those backups sadly off the table for the Buckeyes, they must look elsewhere.
Notre Dame's Jeff Samardzija is certainly off the table, as is South Carolina's Sidney Rice. Perhaps they could swing a deal for Minnesota's 6-5 Ernie Wheelwright but I'm skeptical of his abilities as a dominant go-to player. Arkansas might consider trading Marcus Monk but he's their only truly proven receiver and they cannot afford to install a new offense without a reliable receiver.
Here's a surprise name I think the Buckeyes could theoretically manage a trade for: Eastern Michigan's Eric Deslauriers. He is a 6-4/206 senior who caught 75 passes for 874 yards (11.7 average, 8 touchdowns) last year and 84 receptions for 1,257 yards and 13 touchdowns the season prior.
The Eagles are low on talent and could use any and all available BCS conference type talent. The Buckeyes could probably offer one midlevel recruit from this year's class along the lines or an existent letterman who may get buried in the depth chart (for example they have two highly touted sophomore defensive ends and a redshirt freshman who may lose snaps to superstar recruit Robert Rose).
Either way it's highly possible the Buckeyes could swing something for a guy who could help their offense immediately and only have to trade enough to satisfy Eastern Michigan's demands for essentially a one-year rental of a receiver.
What do you think? Have any other trade ideas for your favorite team or reasonable ways to improve the Buckeyes or Mountaineers or Trojans or Longhorns or anyone else, really?
Have fun, its simply hypothetical and a way to stir the mental juices a little.