The debut of the transfer portal in October 2018 has taken the world of college football by storm. Headlined by Ohio State’s star quarterback Justin Fields, the transfer portal has added a new dynamic to recruiting across all sports. Whether you love it or hate it, the transfer portal is here to stay. But is it actually good or bad for college football? Let’s discuss this.
Fields became the face of the transfer portal after transferring from Georgia to Ohio State after his freshman year. With the help of attorney Thomas Mars, Fields was granted a hardship waiver, which allowed him to play immediately. After leading the Buckeyes to the college football playoff, Field’s success navigating the transfer portal has added another dimension to the power struggle in college sports.
In an article by ESPN’s Tom Vanhaaren, Mid-American Conference commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said
“Working group members believe it’s time to bring our transfer rules more in line with today’s college landscape.”
Well done, Justin Fields. Well done indeed.
With an increasing number of transfers, student-athletes will look to Fields example and use that to their advantage. Why wouldn’t a highly touted prospect want to bet on himself?
The Future of The Transfer Portal
Coaches leave schools looking for better opportunities for themselves and their families. Shouldn’t the athletes have that privilege as well? At the end of the day, the game is about the players, and they deserve the chance to control their own destiny. The transfer portal aims to make a complicated process easy and gives players the chance to focus on what they do best – play.
Miami Hurricanes quarterback D’Eriq King became the latest player to take advantage of the transfer portal. King redshirted after playing four games last season for the University of Houston. With his transfer to Miami, King will face better competition and garner more exposure. King gets a fresh start, and college football gets to profit off an elite player. That sounds like a win-win to me.
The relationship between recruiting and the transfer portal is another aspect to consider. What if a coach gets fired just before or after a kid he recruited arrives on campus? Should that kid be forced to stay there against his will? There is a trust factor involved with families and coaches. Unique circumstances like these must be considered.
Potential Changes Regarding the Transfer Portal
The NCAA is considering a proposal that would allow athletes in all sports to transfer once without sitting out for a year. If approved, any student-athlete who is in good academic standing and not facing suspension will be eligible to play right away for their new school.
If approved, this move will usher in a new era in college football and dramatically alter the recruiting battle. As a fan, I’m curious to see how this would play out in the long term. This change will force coaches to get creative when managing their rosters. Can your team’s coach really recruit? We’ll find out.
While players are completely on board with the new proposal, traditionalists strongly oppose everything around it. Surprise, surprise. Those in this circle view the portal as a form of free agency. Connecticut head coach Randy Edsall believes it gives players a sense of entitlement.
While you could make an argument for both sides, the power balance in college football has shifted. Everyone will have to adapt. The old days where players just played ball and kept quiet are long gone. They have a voice and a right to use it. And after all this time, the right people are finally listening.
The Justin Fields Effect
The group working on the proposal is looking to have it implemented as early as the 2020-2021 academic year. This process includes athletes currently in the portal. However, officials involved in the process are adamant that this ruling is only intended to benefit those undergoing unique circumstances. And as of right now, these “unique circumstances” are up to interpretation.
With that being said, Justin Fields serves as a paradox, which also works against the student-athletes in this case. How? Let me explain.
Several athletes applied for a hardship waiver last season and were denied. Among these athletes was Illinois tight end Luke Ford. Ford transferred from Georgia to be closer to home and his sick grandfather. After his request was denied, Ford’s grandfather tragically passed away, never getting to watch his grandson play.
You would think a situation like that would fall under the “unique circumstances” guideline. And it’s something the NCAA must figure out. I anticipate this process playing out throughout the summer.
You Be The judge
So is the transfer portal good or bad for the game? I’ll let you decide for yourself. Let’s hope the parties involved will make the right decision. Power 5 coaches who complain are still sitting on, give, a million dollars per year, so they’ll be fine. For coaches outside the Power Five, the pressure is on. Can they adapt and maintain their recruits?
An anonymous Power Five coach doesn’t believe so.
“Group of 5, it’s going to kill them. They’re going to be our G league.”
With a bold claim like that, the battles for recruits get a little more interesting. With the majority of recruits aspiring to make it to the NFL, coaches will have to get more creative with roster management.
The era of the transfer portal is in full swing. With recruiting battles taking on a whole meaning, it will be interesting to see how everything plays out. Considering my team’s reputation with transfers (Oklahoma), I’m looking forward to watching all the drama unfold.
The great teams will adapt and remain on top. Those who don’t will watch their coaches come and go. Does your team have what it takes? We’re about to find out.
An avid sports fan and aspiring journalist who’s just trying to make it in the world. Louisiana born but Oklahoma made. Proud Alumni of Langston University.