The Plus Side Of The Transfer Portal

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — If you would cut me enough slack to do some role playing, I would like to slip into my devil’s advocate’s costume and take an unpopular stance on the NCAA’s transfer portal, which is in need of a far better public relations fan than it has received to date.

The portal, which has been a vehicle which has carried so many disgruntled athletes away from the colleges to which they were pledged, has been portrayed as a villain driven by greed that ignites disloyalty from within.

True, this is a “me-first” era, perhaps as we’ve never seen before in college athletics, but it cannot be overlooked by those who complain about what has happened to the games collegians play that those who were in charge of the games brought this on themselves.

This was no less a reaction to being last in the buffet that was handing out the benefits of college sports than was the revolution that changed the face of professional sports almost a half century ago now, one that has led to such a drastic role reversal that the riches being bestowed upon the players today could well lead to a strike of ownership.

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The transfer portal has offered a penalty-free trip out of unhappy situations for players, something that feels like fingernails scratching across a blackboard because we have for years been fed the line that it was the players who were benefitting via scholarships and an education, while coaches and administrators were growing richer and richer, as were television companies, executives and commentators.

Let us first understand the situation as it really has been. We have asked kids at the age of 18 or so to make maybe the most important decisions of their lives, decisions being guided by slick talking coaches, men who were part used-car salesmen and part football geniuses.

Often the decisions these kids were making were being based up all the wrong things, which is understandable when you are 18 or 19 and trying to decide what path you want to take to success at the age of 30 or 40 and beyond.

How many college students, those who are there simply to get an education, change their minds and their majors along the way? How many regular students transfer? How many of you have seen the road you have opted to take change, whether it being changing profession or changing your job within the profession?

I know I have worked for as many newspapers than you have fingers and, along the way, traveled a route that led to Wilmington, Delaware; Atlanta; Dayton, Ohio; Cincinnati, Cleveland, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, back to Pittsburgh, New York and finally Morgantown.

There came a time along the way where I actually made a right decision here and there, but by then I was mature enough to base decisions on the realities of the world, without being influenced by pretty cheerleaders and fancy facilities.

In campus situations, fraternities have their rush weeks and football and basketball have their recruiting seasons where the bring in recruits who are all-county, all-state, all-American. They believe they either own the world right now or will within the next four years, but what they don’t fully grasp is that each of them has the same dreams.

Not all of them will be realized.

So much goes on at college. You have your major to worry about, although all too often your sport really is your major, and if you can’t win a starting job at the college you have chosen, you look around to find one where you can play.

See, you are 20 only once and innately every college football player knows that. He wants to play football or he or she wants to play basketball or soccer, not just be part of team and go through the grind of preparing each week to sit.

I think transferring for playing time is the No. 1 reason for transferring, although often even those who don’t play sports initially pick the wrong school for them to attend originally. Football and basketball players do the same.

Maybe you miss home, miss the family. Maybe it’s too big a college, too small. Maybe the weather, the geography or the location don’t fit.

West Virginia safety Tykee Smith (23) makes a diving tackle of Kansas State’s Deuce Vaughn

They pick up a newspaper – OK, they go to a website – and see professional athletes parading around with no loyalty. What’s sauce for the goose — or the Eagle, Falcon or Lion — is sauce for the gander and they, too, decide it’s time to test free agency.

Sometimes it doesn’t work. Life guarantees nothing.

But sometimes it does. Remember running back Curtis Keaton at West Virginia, a solid running back who came to WVU with big-time dreams but ran into a kid named Amos Zereoue who was ahead of him? Zereoue turned out to be one of the all-time greats at the school while Keaton played two years as a backup.

Finally, he left for James Madison, where he played two years and became a member of the school’s athletic Hall of Fame, gaining 1,064 yards his first season while breaking the school single-game carries record with 38 against Delaware and then rushed for 1,719 yards his senior year, scoring a school-record 126 points, including another school record with 30 points on five TDs in one game.

What’s more, he was a fourth-round pick of the Bengals in the draft and had a three-year NFL career, most of it as one of the league’s better kickoff returners.

WVU has brought players in who have benefitted, the likes of safety Alonzo Addae, who came in from New Hampshire last year and now is listed among the nation’s top safeties, or quarterback Clint Trickett, who gave Dana Holgorsen the quarterback he needed after leaving Florida State. That list is extensive.

It’s true, the situation is far more chaotic than it once was and programs do get hurt by players leaving, the Mountaineers secondary taking big hits this year as starters Dreshun Miller, a cornerback, and Tykee Smith, a potential All-American safety, transferred out.

So, it goes both ways … Oscar Tshiebwe leaves, Taz Sherman and Sean McNeil come in.

That’s the reality of life in college athletics today and it doesn’t do a bit of good to complain about it. Just wish those who leave good luck in the future and welcome in those who want to play for the school you root for.

 

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  • This topic has 15 replies, 8 voices, and was last updated by Butlereer.
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  • #148371

    MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — If you would cut me enough slack to do some role playing, I would like to slip into my devil’s advocate’s costume and take an unpo
    [See the full post at: The Plus Side Of The Transfer Portal]

    #148382

    Fact is that the rich get richer. BAMA Auburn, KY get the best players off of lesser teams and jettisen kids sitting the bench. WVU gets Taz and Sean from JC. They HAD TO TRANSFER. Those JC teams CAN’T keep payers for their JR & SR years.
    Middle of the pack teams pull what they can from the portal. Mostly from JC, G5, or DII lesser teams bestayers. Bench & disgruntled kids from other P5 programs.

    It’s mostly trickle up for the best players. Trickle down for bench players with few exceptions. Then there is the thought of coaches recruiting before kids hit the portal. Those are the facts.

    #148389

    I have no problem with student athletes transferring  But, I have a problem with a school not being allowed to replace the players who transferred out.

    Too many schools will have a reduced roster forever if they’re not allowed to replace those student athletes.

    #148390

    Something has to be done about poaching players. And don’t even try to say there isn’t any. That line of thinking would just be stupid. Poaching either direct by coaches or indirect thru agents, shoe companies, AAU coaches, family or clingons. We have lost 2 top FB and 1 BB to ppoaching already.

    #148391

    Eugene, I agree 100% about replacing. Said that from the beginning and it may be worse for WVU than i predicted in the beginning. I thought more of the SR’s would take advantage of the extra year.

    #148393

    Until there is a way to replace students that left via the portal, the portal will hurt both schools and non-elite athletes alike.  The hard scholarship limit means few schools will ever be able to fill 85 scholarships – each slot not filled is a student athlete not receiving financial aid.  In essence, a student who transfers is preventing a high school senior from getting a scholarship, and a student who transfers multiple times is preventing multiple high school students from getting aid.  Of course as has been mentioned, eliminating the hard limit will likely turn top tier football schools into the gridiron version of Kentucky in basketball.  The best option I can see is to have some sort of formula for players lost to the portal, players gained through the portal and incoming high school graduates.  Any rule will undoubtedly have ways to abuse and game the system, and all the different colored shirts (like blue, red, green and grey) will just complicate things.  But as an example, Having a rule like: You have 25 scholarship slots you can offer each year. but if you lose players through the portal some players may only partially count towards that yearly limit while still fully counting towards the max team limit of 85 – For each player lost to the portal, you can either replace with 2 high school or 1 player from the portal – creating a soft cap that varies depending on whether you replace with high school players or transfers.  And say that greyshirt/blueshirt must be 1:1 so as to not super blatantly get coaches to encourage players to transfer.

    Using just this rule, this would mean you could in theory bring in a total of 50 high school players if you lost 25 players to the portal and only used high school recruits where as if you only used transfers you could only replace with 25 players.  Both would meet the 25 slot quota.  You could have it max at 25 portal losses, meaning if you lost 40 players to the portal, you still could only have the with 25 transfers or 50 HS students or some combo in between.  And if you lost 0 players to the portal, you could only recruit with the rules in place now – 25 total players.  Granted this could recreate the 1972 Pitt recruiting class if you lose scores of players in a coaching change.  You could get creative with greyshirts – lose 25 or more players to the portal and replace with 50 HS plus 25 greyshirts.  Of course you wouldn’t have any scholarships available for the next year outside of additional blue/greyshirts from the following year but you could field a team under the new coach.

    Using some sort of rule set like that would allow schools to replace players lost and have a better chance of reaching the 85 player scholarship limit, while also not punishing late blooming high school players because there are too many older players in the portal.  And this would still force coaches to be at least somewhat judicious on who they take.  Tweaks would obviously be needed but it seems like a good starting point for discussion.  Thoughts?

    #148406

    It’s mostly trickle up for the best players. Trickle down for bench players with few exceptions.  Those are the facts.

    Well, no. The facts are the opposite, at least so far, as detailed in a study of the numbers by Football Tracker which I recapped in a recent article.

    #148460

    Any numbers available on those kids that enter the portal giving up a scholarship, that are not offered a scholarship elsewhere ? There are so many kids in the portal that it’s impossible for all of them to get a new scholarship.

    #148486

    It’s mostly trickle up for the best players. Trickle down for bench players with few exceptions.  Those are the facts.

    Well, no. The facts are the opposite, at least so far, as detailed in a study of the numbers by Football Tracker which I recapped in a recent article.

    We can agree to disagree here.  Fact is that WVU has lost its best players to better teams in FB and BB.  WVU has gained the better players from lower teams.   You don’t see many of the starters on the top teams leaving unless they are being over recruited by other portal players or being pushed back in the 2 deep.

    Outliers are players leaving because of major coaching changes or problems in the program like VT and TN.

    #148571

    Again, no. If you don’t want to believe the numbers, that is your call. The fact is that while WVU did lose a total of three players that would have been starters, they also lost way more players that weren’t going to play at all. It also got football transfers from Penn State and Virginia Tech – programs that have achieved at a higher rate than WVU recently.

    #148628

    Again, no. If you don’t want to believe the numbers, that is your call. The fact is that while WVU did lose a total of three players that would have been starters, they also lost way more players that weren’t going to play at all. It also got football transfers from Penn State and Virginia Tech – programs that have achieved at a higher rate than WVU recently.

    Lost starters to higher ranked teams.  Lost players that would not start to lower ranked teams.  Trickle up for good players.  Trickle down for non starters.  Your post confirms this.

    Then there is the outlier that I stated.  Nester from a dumpster fire at VT.  Dixon from PSU wasn’t going to be the starter next year so he moved on.

    #148629

    Good assessment. Huggins is a whiz in getting as good as he loses, though. Even at WVU, which obviously is at a tremendous disadvantage when it comes to the traditional powers in football and basketball. That makes Bob even more valuable to keep around, even after he retires from coaching, which might match the day of his funeral.

    #148649

    I’m going to jump in between Kevin and Butler on this one.  While Kevin’s link to the statistical analysis of the portal entries is insightful (I am going to refrain from using the less precise term of “numbers”), it does have a major limitation in that it is based on a relatively small subset of the full portal entries.  At least that is my recollection without reviewing the article.

    Butler’s examples, while accurate, are based on a subset remarkably smaller than even Kevin’s.

    Statistical analyses can be insightful but never prove anything, they are only as good as the number of variables that are included in the model and none of them ever include all the variables.  At times the variables left out are the most critical variables.  And the insight becomes less meaningful as the sample sizes go down.

    I think it is just a little early in the process to try and draw even preliminary conclusions at this point.

     

    #148660

    Agreed, cinci, and good points. I mentioned in the article, and am hoping at some point, that we get final numbers on how many people moved up, down or horizontally, but because that’s not required I don’t think we’ll ever get that.

    Maybe at some point someone can do a deep dive on starters/scholarship guys/subs and how they moved, and get a more definitive answer, but that will take a ton of work, and access to stat sites, rosters, playing performance, etc, that goes far past what’s listed in the portal.

    #148696

    What i would like to see is how many starters.from the top P5 teams moved on WITHOUT being “forced” out by incoming recruits …. Portal, HS or JC. Then the same for the next level of P5 teams. Then G5’s.

    Lots to think about.

    #148697

    Then you have to discount transfer outs from teams in dumpster fire mode. Like VT & TN.

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