Edson: How About Allowing Trades in College Football?

If there was such a thing – trades in college football – I think Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh would have swung one before Saturday’s 31-20 loss to Ohio State.

The Wolverines bolted out to a 14-0 lead and seemed to have the Buckeyes on the ropes. Then U-M dropped an easy pass interception and everything went downhill from there. Michigan finished the season 8-4.

It would be easy to point the finger at Harbaugh – and many people are – but the truth is that the players still have to make the plays. And that’s where senior quarterback John O’Korn came up woefully short.

O’Korn was a freshman sensation as a starter at Houston. But then, Michigan sports fans know all about supposed whiz kid quarterbacks out of Houston. The Detroit Lions drafted Andre Ware No. 1 years ago and it turned out to be one of the worst top picks in Lions history. (And that’s saying something!)

The truth is, O’Korn looked uncomfortable in the pocket, couldn’t see oncoming linemen and missed wide open receivers. There is only so much a coach can do. At some point, you would think a senior would have enough poise to at least not make so many fundamental mistakes.

On the flip side, Ohio State’s backup quarterback, Dwayne Haskins, led the Buckeyes to the game-winning touchdown. I had never heard of Dwayne Haskins before Saturday. Now I won’t forget his name.

Neither O’Korn, Wilton Speight or Brandon Peters inspired much confidence in the quarterback position this season for U-M.

So it got me thinking how handy it would be if colleges could trade – even for just one season. Michigan could have proposed a trade to arch-rival Michigan State. A couple of linemen for one serviceable quarterback.

The Spartans finished 9-3 and second in the Big Ten East behind the play of sophomore quarterback Brian Lewerke. He led Michigan State to a 40-7 win over Rutgers on Saturday. He finished the season throwing for 2,358 yards, 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

He also had poise under pressure, something you can’t teach.

The Spartans have a couple of useful backups. So it would have been interesting to see the two schools pull off a big trade.

In a sense, another state school did that during the off-season. Former Michigan quarterback Shane Morris transferred to Central Michigan and led the Chippewas to an eight-win season in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year.

The lesson learned this season for Michigan and Michigan State fans in this – you can sign all the 5-star recruits in the world. But you have to get them to perform on the biggest stage during the most important time of the year.

That’s what separates the great teams from the good teams.

Nick Edson is a retired Hall of Fame columnist and sportswriter. He worked 25 years at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, 18 as sports editor. He is a two-time president of the Associated Press Sports Editors Association and a member of the Michigan Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.