THE TRANSFER PORTAL – BIGGER THAN EVER
By Pete Donovan, The Lott IMPACT Trophy
OK, Class in session, Professor Pete presiding.
Today’s lesson is on the college football transfer portal, a most complicated and challenging subject, comparable to any physics class you may have encountered back in the day.
You see, the transfer portal allows college football players to say bye-bye to the school that offered them – and they accepted – a four-year scholarship in return for their skills on the gridiron on fall Saturdays. And the player can leave for any reason – not playing enough, no longer liking the head coach, disappointment in his classes, cheerleaders not pretty enough, etc. Any reason he wants – and with no penalty! He no longer has to sit out a year to be eligible to play. In other words, here today gone tomorrow, eligible Wednesday.
Let’s look at a sample case:
QB No. 1: In 2017, quarterback J.T. Daniels of Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, California, is the No. 1 college recruit in the country after throwing for 152 touchdowns in a brilliant prep career. He chooses USC and Trojan eyes are smiling. His freshman year is just OK, throwing for 14 touchdowns and 2,620 yards but USC goes 5-7.
In the first game of his sophomore season (2019), Daniels tears his ACL against Fresno State and is out or the year.
QB No. 2: Enter Kedon Slovis who becomes the USC starter and has a terrific season. He slips a little in 2020, gets hurt and loses his job in 2021.
Daniels enters the transfer portal and goes to Georgia.
QB: No. 3: Meanwhile back at Mater Dei, Daniels’ alma mater, the quarterback is Bryce Young, who is also terrific and announces he’ll go to USC, but Slovis is entrenched there so Young opts for Alabama.
QB: No. 4 Jaxson Dart is the new USC quarterback for 2021 and he has a great debut in replacing the injured Slovis, who enters the transfer portal and decides to go to Pitt. After the season Dart surprises and he, too, enters the transfer portal because he believes the Oklahoma quarterback might be coming to USC.
QB No. 5: Caleb Williams is the stud Oklahoma quarterback and he also enters the transfer portal with most people believe he’s headed to USC to join his former head coach Lincoln Riley for the 2022 season.
OK, Class, review. Daniels is still at Georgia, but lost his starting job this year and is expected to transfer again. Young won the Heisman at Alabama. Slovis will replace Kenny Pickett at Pitt. Dart and Williams are still being recruited. Remember, this is all in pencil, OK.
The transfer portal is both a form of free agency and musical chairs. Players transfer most often with a chance to upgrade themselves in a better program with a better opportunity. At any given time there may be over 1,000 student-athletes in the portal with only so many positions open at only so many universities. Dart may be an example. It was rumored he was looking at UCLA, but then the Bruins’ starter, Dorian Thompson-Robinson decided to return, leaving Dart still looking for a landing spot. Now Dart is considering either Ol’ Miss or Oklahoma – where he would replace Williams in what would essentially be a straight trade.
It is a monster on the loose. A free for all with no rules. Watch out.