One Time Transfers Need to Happen and Will Change College Football Forever
The Free Agency era in Major College Sports is nigh. We're now at a point where it's not if it is going to happen, it's just when. It is going to change everything, but it is inevitable and the next step in the evolution of the game.
If you don't know what I'm talking about--here's the Cliff Notes: The NCAA and it's member schools are on the verge of passing a proposal (they haven't yet) that would allow athlete's the ability to transfer from one school to another without having to sit out for a season/retain immediate eligibility.
Needless to say, the reviews are mixed. Athletic Directors seem to be begrudgingly in favor, the Athletes are very in favor---coaches, not so much.
I should add here, many sanctioned NCAA Sports already allow this, it's the Major ones who do not.
Assuming this passes, which at the time I write this is pretty likely--it opens up multiple cans of worms on multiple levels (IMO), some manageable, some inevitable...all likely to change the recruiting playing field for almost everyone.
This essentially is going to begin the "Free Agency" era in College Football. I say this knowing full well we are on year two of the "Portal" which essentially is going to be marked in history as a dry run.
Yes, there are going to be a lot of people in their 40's and 50's who say the game has "Sold Out". Hear me out--because it hasn't, it's changing with the times which is something a frightening amount of people in my age group are struggling to come to grips with.
First of all the game, the dynamics and business behind it are dramatically different than anyone in the late Boomer/early Gen X demographic grew up with. The advent of TV Money and schools with virtually unlimited budgets has changed everything.
Coaches now come and go at the drop of a better offer, buyout or contract be damned. Yeah, you can sit there and say it has always been that way--but it really hasn't. You can also argue there are "Buyout" clauses but for the Big Dog's of the game, those buyouts are almost Petty Cash.
For players--there's a lot at stake. One, recruiting is now a horrible big business that helps convince players to come to a school whether it is a good fit or not. Schools and more significantly coaches are now judged by writers and alumni based on how many "Stars" the recruited players have. Kids are under pressure to commit earlier and earlier, some as early as Sophomore or Junior years in High School.
If a kid comes to a school because of a coach and the coach leaves suddenly for a better deal, why should that kid be obligated to stay? Say for example, your star athlete was recruited by Mel Tucker to come to Colorado, signs the letter of intent and shows up to campus only to find Tucker bailed out after one season to go to Michigan State. Then what happens? Yeah, you can leave, but you'll lose a season unless you go through the portal which was an unmitigated disaster in year #1.
Coaches--they are pretty uniformly against allowing players one free pass (get out of jail card). Coaches will bemoan the roster turnover and having to re-recruit players each year to keep them. Turnover happens every year and what's wrong with trying to convince a kid to stick around?
I get it. It's not easy to install a system for a revolving cast of characters, but in many cases--with guys leaving early, this already happens. The coaches too are stuck in the "We've always done it this way" mindset and don't want to change.
Change is inevitable. And while I believe the transfer rule should happen--the implications are no, not very good. I believe it will further widen the gulf between the Big 10, Clemson and the SEC and everyone else. I believe it will make the Group of Five largely a "Feeder" or Minor League system for certain players and that is not necessarily a good thing.
Yeah, sure, we saw a preview of this with the "Portal" this past season. The "Portal" was supposed to allow a version of this to happen under certain "Circumstances"---however it ended up with a lot of kids "Portaling" in an attempt for playing time while players who had legitimate transfer reasons got left in the wash.
If you are unfamiliar, Ford signed to play at Georgia in 2018 and instead of playing in 2019, wanted to transfer closer to home so his Grandfather who was deathly ill, could see him play football in person. It would have meant Ford would have been eligible to play at Illinois immediately in 2019
The NCAA declined the waiver and Ford did not get to play a single down for the Illini....
And that's the problem. We sort of...had the rule in place for the 2019 season. It was a system that allowed Justin Field to go to Ohio State so he could get playing time and guys like Tate Martell, leave Ohio State for Miami where he still wasn't good enough to get playing time.
The system needs to be fixed and I believe it will be now that most the Big 10, ACC and other Power Conferences are for it. Sure, as I said earlier, it is going to exacerbate the disparity between the haves and have nots of College Football. But it is even more likely to change things nobody has yet to forsee.
That's why one-time transfers are inevitable. They are the future, at least for the next period of time while the big schools figure out how to exploit it.
It is the new College Football and the world in which we live. You might not like it, I might not like it and Coaches may not like it....but it is going to happen.