It is not too often you have a major free-agent acquisition in college Football, but that is exactly what Teddy Bridgewater and the Louisville Cardinals have pulled off with the sudden enrollment and eligibility of running back Michael Dyer.
Yes, the Michael Dyer who rushed for back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons and helped the Auburn Tigers and Cam Newton win a BCS National Title. A back who broke Bo Jackson‘s freshman rushing record and followed up averaging 103 yards a game including First Team All-SEC Honors and rushed for 143 yards in the BCS National Championship Game as a sophomore.
For Louisville head coach Charlie Strong, this is the equivalent of adding, well… there is no equivalent ever in football! In baseball it might be like adding John Smoltz in his prime to your pitching staff fully rested the day before the playoffs–someone proven who knows how to win on the biggest stage.
The naysayers are going to find every reason under the sun to poke holes in Dyer and the Cardinals. They will look at his mistakes and be quick to sit and wait for him to screw up yet another opportunity. But something is different here on more than a few levels.
First, Dyer chose to attend Arkansas Baptist College after his dismissal from Auburn and the Arkansas State Red Wolves. He chose not to play football and instead took the past year to focus on his studies and his character. And in three semesters, Dyer completed 46 hours and earned his Associate Degree. He stated in early July that his next goal was to prove to everyone he was not a bad guy and wanted to prove his ability on the college gridiron.
Now, it is way too early to tell what Strong and Bridgewater have in the new and improved Dyer on the field. There is no doubt that Dyer has made the right choice in wanting to surround himself with men of the character of Strong and Bridgewater. That is not a knock on Gene Chizik or Gus Malzahn‘s ability to lead kids. But the father figure in Strong and the brother in Bridgewater look to be a God send in every way for all parties involved at this point.
Louisville was already going to be a fun team to watch and root for this season, but the addition of Dyer just took this to a whole new level. If he is a changed man, along with the leadership of Strong and the Heisman Trophy run of Bridgewater, this Cardinal team could be primed to be the darling of all things college football in 2013.
You never know what path God is going to take you on, but He always has your back and has a grand design for His testimony in you.
But what a story of redemption it would be if the trouble maker and outcast in Dyer helps a group of Cardinals take down Johnny Manziel or the Alabama Crimson Tide and the SEC death grip of the title game.
M Shannon Smallwood is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association.
Follow him @woodysmalls.