It’s always sad when a control freak loses a little control.
A few moments later, host Eli Gold said he didn’t want to mention names, but asked about the current transfer landscape in college football. He asked Saban if it had become like free agency.
“It’s one of those things where I think the culture has changed a little bit,” Saban said. “I think there’s a certain pride people have in competition. There’s certain things that I was taught growing up about not quitting and seeing things through. I think it I would have come home and told my dad that I was going to quit the team, I think he would have kicked me out of the house. I don’t think I’d have a place to stay.”
Coming from the guy who bailed on the Miami Dolphins when the going wasn’t to his liking, that’s a bit rich.
The assumption from fans, message boards and even national media was that the redshirt freshman would be losing the 2017 season of eligibility regardless of his transfer plans. So, why would he leave now, four games into an undefeated season? With a true freshman starter one hit away from injury, Barnett is still a critical piece of Alabama’s championship equation and he’s being painted as a quitter by critics.
But Barnett has a plan — and it looks a lot like something we’ve seen before in college basketball.
According to bylaw 14.5.6 in the NCAA transfer guide, Barnett as a 4-2-4 transfer (four-year institution, to a junior college, and back to a four-year institution), can be eligible one calendar year from the date of his transfer from Alabama so long as he graduates with a GPA above 2.5 over an average of 12 hours per term at the certifying institution of Barnett’s choosing.
That’s a situation that happens frequently pre- and post-semester. The timing of Barnett’s transfer is what makes him a possible trailblazer: He’d be eligible to play the conference schedule at his next destination.
247Sports reviewed the NCAA transfer guide on Thursday with an FBS compliance source who has first-hand experience and knowledge in placing players from JUCOs, military institutions and other four-year colleges.
“I’ve never seen this situation before first-hand,” the compliance source said. “Because it’s so rare for somebody to leave in the middle of the season.”
It’s worth noting that every person we talk to has slightly different perspectives on the interpretation of this rule. One source with significant experience dealing in junior college transfers believed that Barnett would be eligible immediately in 2017 at a four-year program. Still another source that coaches in the junior college ranks felt that Barnett wouldn’t be able to play at a four-year institution until the 2018 season.
The source who thinks Barnett might have all of 2017 available muses that by leaving Alabama now and arriving at a two-year institution with a mid-term date in mid-October, Barnett would be essentially wiping clean the fall of 2016 at Alabama from his academic record. Consequently, his midterm transfer to a two-year institution would allow him to retroactively start the clock to the beginning of the first semester, thus allowing him to be eligible for the 2017 season with three years remaining to fulfill three years of eligibility.
Honestly, I don’t know if this will work, but you’ve got to admit it’s creative, especially when you consider that he’s leaving a program known under Saban for aggressively pushing the envelope when it comes to NCAA and SEC rules. If it works, you’d better believe Saban won’t be applauding Barnett’s ingenuity, though. He’ll be solemnly urging a rule change to shut down future mid-season departures. It’s in the young men’s best interest, you know.