THE RULES HAVE CHANGED
For those who follow college sports, they know the rules regarding eligibility after entering the transfer portal have changed. While there are numerous administrative requirements a student-athlete must meet, the most significant change is that there is no longer a requirement to sit out for one season the first time someone transfers. An athlete can apply for a waiver to be NCAA for immediate eligibility for subsequent transfers, however granting of the waiver is not guaranteed. This major rule change that went into effect in April of 2021 is good for all parties involved. Let’s find out why that’s the case.
Why to love the Transfer Portal
Holding Coaches and Recruiters Accountable
College football differs significantly from pro football in that the players have a limited amount of eligibility meaning the teams have to constantly reload. Coaches and recruiters have to think ahead. This often results in promises being made that aren’t kept.
A team May have a top-level quarterback or even two, but they are still going to be looking for more. Of course, only one quarterback can play at a time. Coaches and recruiters often make promises about playing time or starting positions to multiple players at the same positions. Don’t believe it happens? Think again.
Even though coaches know they need depth on both the offensive and defensive lines, most of the promises made are with the skill positions. With coaches leaving their current jobs for better opportunities, it’s only fair that players have a similar chance to do so. Let’s not forget that football scholarships can be revoked after a given semester has ended. It doesn’t matter how often it happens the threat is there.
Speaking of Coaches Leaving…
Coaches often leave for other opportunities. This has happened in many instances where the coach said publicly they weren’t leaving then bolted in a matter of days or a few weeks. Were they lying when they said they were staying? Who knows but what’s important is that it’s happened and will happen again. Without the major change to the portal rule, a player would either be stuck playing for a coach that isn’t a fit or sit out a season. Now they don’t have to.
On Wednesday, Michigan State fired head football coach Mel Tucker for cause after serving him written notice of their intention to do so just a few days ago. You don’t think a lot of those players went to Michigan State because of Tucker? There are also situations where a coach gets fired for on-the-field performance. Think Colorado. When Deion Sanders came in and cleaned house many of the players who were there were “encouraged “ to leave. Again, most won’t have to sit out for a year.
Not a Scheme Fit
Let’s say a coach leaves and the new coach implements completely different schemes either on offense or defense. Now a player who came to a school because the schemes in place under the former coach were a fit for their skill sets. Now, they’re not. Let’s not forget that the top-flight players in college are trying to showcase their talent for opportunities at the next level.
A new coach that favors the spread offense might not be a fit for a highly touted drop-back quarterback who doesn’t run much or well. Players and their “people “ are much more sophisticated than they used to be and are aware of these nuances and how their future opportunities are impacted.
There it is: the R-word.
College football has undergone massive realignment recently and to think it doesn’t impact the players or more specifically their mindset is being naive. Players for Oregon State and Washington State are undoubtedly feeling like they’re in limbo right now because, well, they are. Neither of these two schools normally gets the five-star recruits. However, as a player who might have always dreamed of playing for USC but they weren’t interested, a chance to play against them could be enticing. Now with their future conference affiliation in doubt that is no longer the case.
Television also matters. You’ve heard college presidents make ridiculous comments about why their schools are switching conferences but it’s all about the money. Even Oregon and Washington bolted the Pac-12 for the Big 10 knowing they weren’t getting a full share of the television revenue but it was better than what they would have received by staying put. Kids want to play on TV. We’re not talking about ESPN plus we’re talking about regular ESPN networks or the big networks. If an athlete sees their chances to be seen diminish now they have an option that didn’t exist before.
Money Now for the Players
With the recent implementation, for lack of better term, of NIL (name, image, and likeness), the players can now get paid for their services. Let’s be honest. They are providing services. Basically, NIL allows players to be paid for endorsement deals. It’s really a backhanded way for the boosters to do what they’ve been doing for years. At least now, it’s not against the rules although there are still some rules.
However, not all colleges at the highest level have figured out how to best implement NIL. Some college coaches have even made public comments against NIL. This is the United States and capitalism is our economic model. There is no reason the players shouldn’t have the chance to make some money when they’re risking their health and the NFL is not guaranteed to anyone. If a particular school isn’t “assisting “ a player with their NIL prospects or if another school can offer better NIL prospects the player should be able to take advantage of the opportunity without sitting out a year. Now they can.
Why on Earth should a player have to sit out a season when they want to transfer close to home? What if a family member gets sick or has some other type of emergency that the player wants to assist with? These things happen and it’s called life. A lot can happen when an athlete has to sit out and most of it is bad for their football career. Fortunately, we’ve come a long way from the days when a poor kid would lose their eligibility for getting a part-time job while playing college sports.
It Levels the Playing Field
The recent changes to the eligibility rules regarding player transfers are fair and long overdue. Are tweaks necessary? Maybe but that’s for another day. Let’s hope the NCAA doesn’t go backward with this. They’ve been known to do questionable things before.