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The Transfer Portal is Wrecking College Sports (Why Yearlong Free Agency Isn't Sustainable)
A breakdown of the staggering numbers + why so many players are transferring + solutions that could ease the problem.
I’m sure you’ve seen the Dr. Pepper “Fansville” commercial before.
It’s set in a fictional college football town, where the residents keep sports at the center of their universe.
The wild part…
It’s not far from reality, especially in the south.
And last year, the town of Fansville received a mysterious addition - a portal that transports players.
And that’s basically the new landscape of college athletics, especially in the revenue generating sports of football and basketball.
The grass is greener on the other side.
Or is it?
The Free Agency of College Sports
More than 4,300 D1, D2 and D3 players have entered the transfer portal over the last three months in college football alone.
Roughly 1,600 of them are scholarship players from the FBS level, which equates to about 13 per team.
National Signing Day was on February 2, but looked drastically different from years past.
Why is that?
I saw somewhere on Twitter that there are between 25-30% fewer spots available for high school athletes than in years past.
Here’s what Lane Kiffin had to say about the portal:
“We basically have year-round free agency in football, which is obviously a major issue, which is why they don’t do it in professional sports.”
Why Are There So Many College Players Transferring
There’s no one factor to blame, but a combination of many.
It stems over many years and from a new generation of athletes.
Me First Attitude
It use to be we > me, but ever since the rise of social media, athletes have become more about themselves.
They want the big play, media recognition, social media followers, and accolades.
Sitting on the bench doesn’t get you any of those things.
The me first attitude is a direct reflection of the parents. It’s no lie that parents are the often the problem (more so than the kids).
I hate to even give this attention, but it’s all a marketing ploy to line the pockets of the parents. 👇
Great entertainment, bad deal for sports.
Parents are rarely telling their kids “fight through adversity”, while they’re on the bench.
They’re telling them “your coach sucks, we need to find one that values you” and it’s this that creates a lot of turnover.
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It’s easy to sit here and blame players for moving from one school to the next.
But what about the coaches?
They are constantly chasing the next best gig as well. Just look at Brian Kelly going from Notre Dame to LSU.
And this coach turnover creates most of the transfers to begin with. Look at all the turnover at USC and Oklahoma from those coaching changes.
Players get forced out and have no option, but to leave and go elsewhere.
Extra Year of Eligibility
The extra COVID year has crushed the chances for a lot of HS athletes.
College players are taking 5th and even 6th years.
It’s disrupting the flow from HS to college.
In a perfect world it’s 4 years of HS and 4 years of college.
But right now it’s looking more like:
4 years of HS
transfer to JUCO
grad transfer year
You know I’m a huge fan of athletes getting paid what they deserve.
But when it comes to the transfer portal, NIL is adding fuel to the fire.
It’s becoming - “what school can get me the most deals” - hence the most money.
So what’s the Transfer Portal Solution?
Just like there’s not one problem, there’s not one clear-cut solution.
However, there are some things that could be done to help ease the situation.
There’s only a designated timeframe for transferring to take place, much like free agency in professional sports.
Only allow a certain number of transfers in an athletes career or how many a program can take per year.
Change the Recruiting Calendar
Restructure the calendar and possibly remove the early signing period.
I think all of these options could help, but won’t solve the core issue.
Look out for the weekly roundup this Sunday!