Category Archives: Transfers Are For Coaches.

Flooding the market

John Helyar wrote a book, Lords of the Realm, which is a history of baseball’s labor relations.  In it, he recounts the period when labor and ownership had to refashion their relationship after the Messersmith decision that opened the doors to free agency.  Marvin Miller, who had a history of running rings around the owners, knew the way to maximize economic returns for the players was to agree to certain restrictions that would limit the number of free agents on the market in a given year.

It turned out there was one owner who understood how the marketplace worked — Charlie Finley (probably because he screwed up with Catfish Hunter and then watched his star players walk away when their contracts expired).  Finley’s solution was to make every player a free agent, with the idea that with the market flooded, teams would have more leverage in contract negotiations.  The owners hated Finley, which meant they rejected his suggestion, and Miller negotiated a deal along the lines he wanted.  The rest, as they say, is history.

I mention all this because Andy Staples’ piece about the transfer portal rang a similar bell.

Here’s why players need to make a raw, honest evaluation of their situations before they enter the portal. Once a player enters the portal, the player’s current school is under no obligation to keep that player on scholarship. After all, a man can’t leave the house and tell his wife he’s going on a few dates that night and reasonably expect her to still let him sleep in her bed. Most programs sign so many players that if everyone comes back for next season, that program will be over the 85-scholarship limit. Attrition—players getting booted, players retiring, players transferring—always seems to get programs to 85, but there is no reason a coach couldn’t just zap the players in the portal to get to the number. This potential transfer described above appears prepared to stay at his original school, which is willing to take him back. That likely means the coaching staff is holding out hope for a potential contribution and that coaches just like the guy. But if a player isn’t contributing and a problem in the locker room, his coaches may be praying this spring that he hops into the portal so they can cut him loose with no potential blowback.

There has never been a group less qualified than college football coaches to complain about other people seeking greener pastures. As a group, college coaches are frequent job hoppers who routinely leave their players in a lurch when a better opportunity comes along. So the coaches need to suck it up and quit whining about the power given to the players by the new transfer rules. The coaches brought this on themselves, and they are more than adequately compensated to deal with the complications that arise from the players having a little freedom of movement. The smartest coaches will not complain, anyway.

They will see this as an opportunity, because the power is about to swing back in their direction as programs analyze their scholarship situations. Nebraska coach Scott Frost recently said he kept a few scholarships in his back pocket for potential transfers. Miami’s Manny Diaz explained how he is using the transfer portal to restore class balance in Coral Gables. But even the coaches who had the foresight to stash some scholarships because of a potential bump in the transfer population didn’t store that many. There will be less FBS scholarships available than there are FBS players in the portal, which means those coaches with scholarships can afford to be choosy and grab only players who either can fill an immediate need or who project as future stars with a little seasoning. Everybody else? They can just leave them in the portal.

Somebody out there came to the realization that it was pointless for ADs and coaches to create PR problems out of unhappy players wanting a change of scenery — inevitably, they backed down from their initial position in the face of withering publicized criticism — and, as Staples notes, folks at power programs engaging in aggressive roster management (the usual suspects shall remain nameless here) would come to see a freer version of the transfer system as a feature, not a bug.  (By the way, whoever that person is should be given serious consideration as the next NCAA president.  Seriously.)

From the players’ standpoint, though, it’s a classic case of be careful what you wish for, at least in the short term.

And that’s where the players must be careful. A player unhappy with his place on his team this spring needs to find someone he trusts to be honest—not someone who will tell him what he wants to hear. He might need to have a high school coach do some back-channel interest-gauging to ensure there will be a market for him should he decide to transfer. (Which sounds an awful lot like the old transfer system, except the back-channel conversations then were about making schools aware of a potential transfer as well as ensuring they had free scholarships. Now the portal takes care of the awareness part.) He may find out that he has a chance to play just as quickly by staying put. He also may learn that his particular talents aren’t as valuable as he thinks.

Before the transfer rules changed, a player had to know all this before he declared his intention to transfer. Now? He can just hop into the portal. But he needs to be careful lest he get stranded there when no new school has enough of the 25 and his old school needs to get down to the 85.

I suspect some measure of balance will return once there are a few years for both sides to adjust to the portal.  Regardless, it’s more of a different world for some than others.

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It was nothing personal, Georgia fans.

More insight from attorney Tom Mars on Justin Fields’ waiver application to Ohio State: “Irrefutable documentation that has nothing to do with racism was presented to the NCAA in support of OSU’s request that Justin Fields be given a waiver. That information wasn’t critical of — and didn’t reflect poorly on — the UGA culture, the UGA administration or staff, any particular student, or the student body. And it certainly didn’t reflect poorly on Justin or any member of his family. However, that documentation did provide support for the issuance of a waiver under the NCAA’s rules.”

Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer

I’m curious to know if that info will ever see the light of day.

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What hath Thomas Mars wrought?

The NCAA decides to take a deep breath.

After a recommendation from the Division I Transfer Working Group, the Committee for Legislative Relief this week began a holistic review of the membership-created guidelines used when reviewing waiver requests for students seeking immediate eligibility after transferring from one Division I school to another.

The review, which began during the committee’s Feb. 11-12 meeting in Indianapolis, will be comprehensive and review each category of waiver guidelines. The review will include feedback from Division I Council members and other stakeholders and would update the guidelines to ensure they are aligned with current membership philosophies.

Holistic =  damn, those coaches are whining a lot.

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“That’s going to be a fun luncheon tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow” being today’s annual SEC coaches’ meeting at the league headquarters in Birmingham, Alabama.  “Fun” being Missouri’s Barry Odom showing up to feed some of his peers shit sandwiches, evidently.

Barry Odom will have some choice words for his fellow SEC coaches on Wednesday. Missouri’s head football coach is just now realizing the full impact of probation recently handed down by the NCAA that included a bowl ban in 2019.

Odom said Tuesday that his 19 seniors are being “contacted and bombarded non-stop” by teams taking advantage of NCAA bylaws that allow rising seniors from programs hit with postseason bans to transfer without penalty…

No Missouri players have transferred due to the ruling, but Odom and Missouri remain frustrated.

“I’m also now recruiting our senior class again,” Odom said.

The coach said that he has “made a number of calls” to conference peers pursuing his players. This comes in advance of Wednesday’s annual SEC coaches’ meeting at the league headquarters in Birmingham, Alabama.

“I haven’t gotten return phone calls,” Odom said.

“I know there is a handful of guys who are talking daily to my players,” he added.

And the number one offender?

Odom singled out Tennessee as the most frequent caller for his players among SEC programs during a booster event on Tuesday.

“Everybody is going to have a bad day,” Odom said, expressing his frustration with keeping his players from transferring. “You combine that with somebody that — who’d we beat 51-17 this year? Tennessee? Yeah, those guys. They are non-stop reaching out daily [saying], ‘Hey, come here.’ The grass is not always greener somewhere else.”

Sounds like something straight out of the Phil Fulmer playbook, don’t it?  Man, you gotta love “it just means more”.

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Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, SEC Football, Transfers Are For Coaches.

Grantham’s progress

It looks like Todd Grantham is still waiting for that offer he can’t refuse.

If he takes it, no doubt the defensive players who just signed with/committed to Florida will appreciate David Shaw’s point that “The hopscotch approach to college really hinders their ability to have success in life.”  And if he doesn’t, well, there’s always a next time.  Life lessons, for the win!

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Winning the transfer portal

Ian Boyd makes an intuitive point with this post.

While much of the discussion about the NCAA’s new transfer portal surrounds the blow struck for player agency, it’s likely there are other changes afoot. An easier transfer process is going to drive the evolution of the game like the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey, imbuing particular programs with new weapons.

The college game has already cycled through updates such as the hurry-up, no-huddle spread. The HUNH spread made the game simpler, allowing the offense to wait until the defense was set before checking into one of a few limited options.

One of the more stunning aspects of Clemson’s dominating win over Alabama was the role played by freshmen Trevor Lawrence and Justyn Ross. Lawrence hit Ross six times for 153 yards and a score on 10 targets.

But while they were both amazing high school talents, they still offer a takeaway for teams looking to plug any kind of talent into an offense. Modern spread attacks like Clemson’s make it easier to install new players, whether they’re freshmen or transfers.

Offenses that rely on schemes that are more challenging for new players to learn, like a certain one in Athens, need to face the reality that for every Jake Fromm who has the ability to grasp the basics as a true freshman, there are going to be Jacob Easons and Justin Fieldses who don’t.  Those kids will have every incentive and, more importantly, plenty of opportunity to take their skills to another program that will find a way to unlock those sooner.

That doesn’t mean Georgia should give up the chase.  Quite the contrary, it behooves Smart to grab all the elite quarterbacking talent he can.  You never know whether a quarterback is ready until he’s had time in your program, and with the new transfer protocol, those who don’t measure up will move on to greener pastures, reopening roster spots at the position for the staff to fill.

There is something to be said for efficiency when your coaches are good at talent accumulation.

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Those oxen aren’t gonna gore themselves.

There is nothing quite as shameless as a football coach facing the threat of a loss of player control.

Coaches view the loosening of transfer restrictions as running counter to values they promote in their programs. Many cite stories of how older players fought through adversity early in their careers, stayed with the program and became stars or major contributors.

“We have seen kids that have entered the transfer portal and haven’t been on campus for a semester,” Penn State coach James Franklin said. “How do you learn to overcome adversity and fight through battles and learn to compete? I worry about that for our sport; I worry about that for kids and our country. The path of least resistance very rarely is the answer. How do you have discipline and structure and tough conversations in your program if there’s always a Plan B, an outlet with no real repercussions?”

A question that I’m sure more than a few Vanderbilt fans asked themselves when Franklin up and left for Penn State.

Coaches generally like the portal itself and don’t oppose graduate transfers making moves without having to sit out a season. Their beef is with the percentage of waivers being granted and the reasoning behind those approvals.

“It’s too easy right now,” Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said. “It’s too easy to let kids quit.”

Umm… they’re not quitting.  They’re still playing, just for another coach, Dave.

Added Shaw: “The hopscotch approach to college really hinders their ability to have success in life.”

Yeah, just look how things have turned out for Baker Mayfield.

“There’s 1,000 kids in the portal right now,” NC State coach Dave Doeren said. “Everyone wants to talk about player safety. What happens when a position group has three less guys left in it? I don’t think we can manage our rosters the way we used to be able to.”

Penn State had 11 players enter the transfer portal this winter, although most have graduated (a 12th, safety Lamont Wade, entered the portal but then withdrew and will remain with the Nittany Lions). PSU also had five underclassmen enter the NFL draft.

“That’s probably the biggest challenge for administration, as well as coaches: How do you ever know who’s actually on your roster and who’s not?” Franklin said. “A lot of coaches have said as soon as you enter the transfer portal, they’re going to take you off scholarship, but that’s another problem with this. They’ve left it kind of gray that each school and each coach can handle it differently.

“You’re in a very, very challenging position in terms of managing your roster, how to recruit, all those types of things.”

These guys are paid hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars, to manage football programs.  It must really suck to have to work a little harder at a well-paid job.

But let’s hear it for TCU’s Gary Patterson, who manages the most shameless quote of all:

Patterson admits he’s “just as guilty” of adding two graduate transfers this year, in quarterback Alex Delton (Kansas State) and defensive end Shameik Blackshear (South Carolina).

“The portal will get worse — transfers, waivers — if we don’t do something about it,” Patterson said. “And, eventually, we’re going to hurt the high school senior.”

Yeah, let’s do it for the kids who aren’t even in your program yet!  Gary, I hate to tell you what the fix for the unfortunate high school senior who gets screwed by your call to bring in a transfer player at his position ought to be.

These people.

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UPDATE:  Speaking of those high school seniors…

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