No, Transfers Aren’t Making The Sky Fall
I’m sure you know the story of “Chicken Little,” where Henny Penny runs around town warning everyone that, “The sky is falling.” In reality it was just an acorn that dropped from a tree and hit him on the head.
That seems an apt parable for the college athletic world when it comes to the transfer portal.
Coaches, administrators and fans alike all are screaming.
“The sky is falling!!! The sky is falling!!!
Transfers and the portal through which many come have certainly gotten a lot of attention in recent months. The portal is still relatively new, as it was just became operational last October, and new often creates fear.
But is the sky really falling?
I don’t have the time or energy to dive into a nationwide study of the subject, but I can definitely do a microcosm of the transfer phenomena in terms of how it is affecting West Virginia University football.
Those former Mountaineers who entered the transfer portal since the end of last season have certainly created a great deal of news in these parts, especially when three WVU safeties – Kenny Robinson, Derrek Pitts and E.J. Brown – hit the portal within the space of a couple days in early June. Those three on top of the previous five scholarship underclassmen who since last season declared their intentions to leave West Virginia – center Matt Jones, wide receiver Marcus Simms, defensive lineman Tyrese Allen, wide receiver Dillon Spalding and corner Jordan Adams – brought near panic from some.
But is there reason for panic?
History is usually a good indicator of what is a new problem and what is a common occurrence.
And history tells us this year’s departure volume from West Virginia’s football program is far from being extraordinarily high right now. In fact, it’s basically right in the middle of the exodus rate in comparison to others in the past six years.
Not counting those underclassmen who left early for the NFL Draft (David Long, Daryl Worley, Wendell Smallwood and Shelton Gibson) or walk-ons, WVU still shows a slightly higher average annual attrition rate in the recent past in comparison to this year. This takes into account those non-senior scholarship football players who departed the program before using up their eligibility, going back to 2013.
After the 2018 season, WVU has seen nine scholarship underclassmen leave, as on top of the eight transferring, junior linebacker Brendan Ferns also retired from football because of injury.
Certainly the reasons for each departure varies, as discipline, academics and health factor in, but for most, it’s a transfer for a chance at more playing time elsewhere.
So the post-2018 departure number is nine.
That number was 15 following the 2017 season – Jacquez Adams, Chris Chugunov, Fontez Davis, Jaleel Fields, Jalen Harvey, David Isreal, Lamonte McDougle, Ray Raulerson, Reggie Roberson, Ricky Rogers, Alec Shriner, Adam Shuler, Collin Smith, Kevin Williams and Jonn Young.
After the 2016 season, there were nine – Dontae Angus, Rob Dowdy, Jovon Durante, Michael Ferns, Marcell Lazard, Cody Saunders, Jah’Shaun Seider and Steven Smothers, plus Josh Lambert, who left the team in mid-season.
After the 2015 season, there were seven – Amanii Brown, Daejuan Funderburk, Larry Jefferson, Jacky Marcellus, Donte Thomas-Williams, Russell Haughton-James and Garrett Hope
After the 2014 season, there were nine – Andrew Buie, Vernon Davis, Dustin Garrison, Malik Greaves, Paul Millard, Jaylon Myers, Brandon Napoleon, Tyree Owens and Lamar Parker
And after the 2013 season, there were 12 – Imarjaye Albury, Travis Bell, Dante Campbell, Ronald Carswell, Ford Childress, Trevor Demko, Korey Harris, D’Vante Henry, Will Johnson (from Minnesota), Isaac McDonald, Tyler Tezeno and Avery Williams
I could go back further, but you get the point. Transfers are not a new phenomena, far from it.
The transfer portal definitely draws public and media attention to all those who enter, but history tells us that transfers are not new. The transfer portal doesn’t create the departures; it just highlights them. That’s certainly the case at West Virginia, which averaged 10.4 departures per year from 2013-17 and has seen nine departures this year.
And while the Mountaineers are losing some, they are also adding as well. This year Neal Brown’s program is bringing in seven new transfers, so while WVU is taking a hit – admittedly the losses of starters like Marcus Simms and Kenny Robinson hurt the most – you gain some and you lose some.
The biggest lesson to be learned is that the sky is not falling. Transfers, like acorns, continue to drop at the same rate now as they used to.