Category Archives: Transfers Are For Coaches.

The boys who cried wolf.

Oh, FFS.

Imagine a disgruntled five-star freshman dissatisfied with his dorm accommodations leaving after a season for a softer bed. Imagine two of the biggest dates on the college football calendar becoming the end of spring practice and end of fall camp. That’s when a potential glut of quarterbacks (or wide receivers or running backs or defensive backs) would hit the market after losing position battles.

Basically, imagine the transfer portal times 10.

It’s all on the table. It’s also a potential mess. The Big Ten originally proposed one-time transfer legislation last fall. On Monday, the ACC publicly supported the concept. Momentum seems to be pushing the issue toward adoption. The three remaining Power Five conferences (Big 12, SEC, Pac-12) were expected to discuss the proposal at their respective spring meetings.

“That’s going to happen, man,” a former member of the NCAA Council, who did not want to be identified, said. “I’ve been hearing murmurs. It seems unstoppable now.”

Imagine being so devoid of courage that you feel you have to offer a quote like that anonymously.  But I digress.

Fearmongering.  It’s what those in charge like to do every time a vested interest appears threatened.

Hell, P5 schools are making more money than ever.

Anyway, back to the one-time transfer rule.  Obviously, it’s a threat to coaches’ control over players, and, to be fair, Dodd is right to note there are related issues concerning things like APR and roster management for schools who face a sudden drain of their numbers that will have to be addressed.

That all being said, given the numbers generated by the transfer portal, the fears Dodd cites are likely overblown.  Per Max Olson ($$),

The transfer portal database for 2019-20 lists 170 scholarship players who have matriculated to their new schools. The actual number is greater than that — some compliance staffers haven’t logged all their new enrollees yet — but the 170-player sample is still useful for showing where players are ending up:

  • 43 players (25 percent) enrolled at Power 5 programs
  • 31 players (18 percent) enrolled at Group of 5 programs
  • 21 players (12 percent) enrolled at FBS schools as walk-ons
  • 75 players (44 percent) enrolled at FCS or Division II programs

Based on those initial numbers, you’re seeing one in four transfers fortunate enough to end up at Power 5 schools. More importantly: There are nearly the same number of players ending up on scholarship with FBS teams (74) as there are players going down to FCS or lower levels (75).

You know what’ll happen when the one-time transfer rule goes into effect?  There will be even more players out there looking for the same number of slots.  The reality is there are only so many primo spots out there in a given year and the one-time transfer isn’t gong to fundamentally alter that math.

Nobody likes being inconvenienced, true.  But inconvenience isn’t the end of the world.

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Getting on the transfer train

Soooo… this dropped out of the blue yesterday.

Division I student-athletes in all sports could transfer and compete immediately if a concept under consideration by the Transfer Waiver Working Group is adopted by the Division I Council.

“The current system is unsustainable. Working group members believe it’s time to bring our transfer rules more in line with today’s college landscape,” said working group chair Jon Steinbrecher, commissioner of the Mid-American Conference. “This concept provides a uniform approach that is understandable, predictable and objective. Most importantly, it benefits students.”

The working group concept would change waiver criteria to allow approvals for first-time four-year transfers in all sports to compete immediately if they:

  • Receive a transfer release from their previous school.
  • Leave their previous school academically eligible.
  • Maintain their academic progress at the new school.
  • Leave under no disciplinary suspension.

The waiver criteria are the same as the legislated exception already allowed for student-athletes who compete in any sport other than baseball, basketball, football or men’s ice hockey.

There is a lot to unpack there, but let’s start with some background first.

I know that many of you yesterday focused on how a one-time player transfer is little more than the dreaded “free agency”, destined to ruin good football programs across America.  Well, guess what?  Good football coaches across America agree with you.

… However, the vast majority of D-I coaches do not agree, says Todd Berry, the executive director of the American Football Coaches Association.

In fact, coaches have shown “unanimous” opposition to the idea at AFCA conventions for the last three years. And there are three main reasons why, Berry outlines: (1) the freedom to transfer and play immediately could lead to quick, rash decisions players eventually regret; (2) transfers, according to NCAA data, are less likely to graduate than non-transfers; (3) and as Richt points out in his tweet, this proposal pushes college football closer to a free agency, with coaches poaching from one another’s rosters even more than they already do.

“The (rule was originally) put in to keep universities from recruiting off other campuses,” Berry says in an interview with Sports Illustrated on Tuesday. “That would be a reality if all the sudden you said a one-time transfer.”

You know what I love about coaches?  Even though it’s coaches doing the poaching, they like the rules focused on player penalties.  I mean, it’s really not that hard to come up with a worthy punishment designed to discourage that sort of behavior — ban a program from accepting any transfers for some specified period of time, if caught violating a poaching ban, for one — at least, not if this is really about preventing poaching.

But it’s not.  It’s what it’s always been about, control.

If you don’t think poaching’s already going on, I got news for you.  The portal makes it less necessary, but coaches gonna coach and poachers gonna poach.

The problem with control is that others have to pay a price for it that seems steep.  Like Luke Ford, who, coincidentally, tweeted this yesterday.

It’s just another example in a long series of unfortunate consequences from college athletics’ transfer policies that leaves schools and the NCAA with a black eye.  In Ford’s specific instance, it’s the result of coming up with a rule in the abstract that’s purportedly designed to keep kids from using the excuse of a sick relative as a get out of jail free card.  In reality, the results seem arbitrary and unnecessarily cruel.

It’s probably fair to say that the schools and the NCAA are getting a little tired of the bad publicity.  It’s also probably fair to say the NCAA is growing more weary of having to enforce a set of rules that have grown ever more cumbersome to regulate for a number of reasons ($$).

Mars’ success also had another major side effect: Covering the desks of the legislative relief staff with more waiver cases than ever. In 2019, the number of cases those case managers at the NCAA were dealing with exploded by 300 to 500 percent, “depending on which case manager you were talking to,” Mars said.

“The majority of those waiver requests had no merit,” Mars said. “People were stretching left and right and coming up with all kinds of creative reasons they were trying to fit into the mitigating circumstances rule.”

Even the NCAA can reach a point when it realizes it doesn’t have time for this shit, especially in this case where it’s carved out a special exception for just a few sports.  Or, as the working group chair put it in the announcement,

“More than a third of all college students transfer at least once, and the Division I rule prohibiting immediate competition for students who play five sports hasn’t discouraged them from transferring,” Steinbrecher said. “This dynamic has strained the waiver process, which was designed to handle extenuating and extraordinary circumstances.”

Translation:  the control freak stuff can’t be justified anymore, coaches.

By labeling this a concept included in the working group’s waiver process work, they’ve managed to bypass the regular legislative process and set this up for passage in time for the 2020-21 academic year.  If you’re a little skeptical about the conversion (the timing is suspiciously fast, admittedly), here’s one possible reason why the landscape is changing.

A former member of the NCAA Council, who did not wish to be identified, speculated to Dodd that the NCAA could be staging a legislative public relations gala at its next convention — January 2021 in Washington, D.C. In the nation’s seat of power, in front of the country’s legislators — some of whom seek to regulate the association — the NCAA could trot out liberalized transfer rules and name, image and likeness legislation.

My, how convenient.

If there is one gray area worth poking, it’s the requirement that a kid obtain a transfer release from his/her previous school.  Now, given that’s apparently an existing requirement in most sports and doesn’t seem to generate much controversy, perhaps it’s an innocent step.

But it sounds to me like something that gives the prior school some leverage in the release process, maybe as a hedge to prevent another school from poaching (although, again, there are more direct ways to police that), maybe as a way to prevent in-conference transfers, maybe more.  It’s hard to speculate much more about it at such an early point in time, but as I said before, coaches gonna coach.

In any event, it does appear that the momentum to give football and basketball players more freedom to transfer without restriction continues to gain steam.  We’ll have to wait and see where things go from here.  I’m just sorry they couldn’t move things fast enough to suit Luke Ford’s grandfather.

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TFW you’ve run out of excuses

This is the sound of someone who’s grown tired of the bullshit ($$).

“We cannot justify why some students can transfer and others cannot without sitting out,” one ACC athletic director told The Athletic via text message on Monday. “It is also hard to reconcile coaches moving from school to school, although there is a buyout usually, while still trying to limit student transfers.”

It’s hard to keep defending the indefensible.  Now do NIL compensation.

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Another conference joins the one-time transfer movement.

Maybe the NCAA figured if it kept botching the waiver process, conferences would have no choice but to change the rules.

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I’ll show you enabled and entitled.

Coach clucking.

Coach fucking.

Can one of you “kids these days” blamers explain the difference to me?  I mean, they’ve gotta learn the behavior from somebody, amirite?

************************************************************************

UPDATE:  Dan Wolken has this right.

Though the optics of Tucker’s sudden change of heart are awkward at best, it would be silly to criticize him for being disloyal. As one coach who recently got a mind-blowing contract told me, you might only have real leverage in these situations a few times in your life so you better take advantage. As Michigan State’s search for Mark Dantonio’s replacement became increasingly desperate, Tucker had it and used it. Good for him.

Not sure why that should be any different for college athletes, but, then again, I’m not a head coach.

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TFW you don’t want to make the effort

I can’t get over the contrast between this Randy Edsall quote about the transfer portal…

… and Kirby’s comment about Jamie Newman’s transfer.

“I know Jamie has been very mature about the process,” Smart said. “These grad transfers, No. 1 the fact that they graduated college, the fact he graduated from Wake Forest, these kids understand what they want. And they’re very driven in what they want. They’re really not into the whole recruiting process. So he handled it that way, and was very professional about it. We’re looking forward to putting him to work and letting him go out and compete this spring.”

I don’t know what’s sadder, Edsall’s mindless take on kids’ mindset, or that UConn is sold on a guy like Edsall as its head coach.

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What losing control sounds like

I guess we shouldn’t count Mike Gundy as a fan of the Big Ten’s proposed one-time unfettered transfer rule for college football players.

“The NFL doesn’t have unrestricted anytime free agency, none of the pro sports do,” Gundy said. “Those athletes have to fulfill their contract. What we have with our student-athletes is a four-year contract. It is what we sign and they sign when they are recruited. The NFL does not allow teams to tamper with other players. What’s to stop Ohio State, Michigan, or another major power from contacting a player developed at another school and encourage them to come play for them. Then there is no penalty, no year they would have to sit out.”

The two things I love here are (1) college athletes are under contract; and (2) schools may tamper, but the penalty ought to be on the player.  Gotta admit that’s a convenient rationale, Coach.

Keep in mind that these kids can transfer any time they want; all we’re arguing about is whether they should have to sit out a year or not should they do so.  Something coaches like Gundy don’t have to worry about if they scoot for greener pastures.

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