Former Bulldog quarterback Jacob Park announced yesterday that he's visiting Alabama and may sign with the Crimson Tide. If he does, he'll have three years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2016. Park has this option because of Mark Richt's unflinchingly generous transfer policy, which essentially allows players to transfer to any other school, including Georgia's most bitter rivals. It's a policy which drives some Bulldog fans nuts, not least of all because some of those transfers have gone on to play good football against the Red and Black. But Mark Richt has said over and over again (and I'm actually quoting here) that "life is too short" to prevent college kids from pursuing their dreams.
Personally, I agree with him. Life is too short to spend your time preventing teenagers from pursuing their dreams. It's also worth noting that this policy is part of the total package that is the Mark Richt image, an image built around a coach who cares deeply about his players.Who cares so much about them that he's willing to allow them to chase their dreams elsewhere if that's what they really want. On balance, it's a lot more defensible stance than the absurd transfer restrictions so prevelant in college sports. Sometimes however, that generosity is going to bite you in the rear.
In this instance, however, I think that's relatively unlikely. Park would be joining an incredibly crowded field in Tuscaloosa, with Florida State transfer Jacob Coker, redshirt freshman David Cornwell, Cooper Bateman, and Blake Barnett all vying for the starting spot. Coker looks like the favorite at this point. That being said, Cornwell was one of the most physically impressive QB recruits I ever saw when he came out in 2015, with an arm in the Ryan Mallett range. If he can take care of the football, he's also a threat to take the reins. Bateman and Barnett were also more highly rated prospects than Park, and have a year in Lane Kiffin's system.
One almost has to wonder why Nick Saban would need another signal caller given all that. Park is probably more mobile than any of those guys, but then Kiffin isn't exactly running the read option on every snap. Maybe the Tide want to know what Brian Schottenheimer has planned before they see him in Athens this fall. Maybe Park will be offered a walk-on spot where he would be a pretty valuable scout teamer before competing and providing depth down the road. No matter the case, I hope he finds a good fit. If he's looking for a place where he stands a better chance of playing earlier, there might be no worse locale in America than the Capstone.