The NCAA is changing up its transfer rules with plenty of proposals on the table. Here’s a better plan, if this was a rational, fair world.
Daily Cavalcade of Whimsy
Sorry if this take sucks, it’s not my fault …
I signed away my college eligibility and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.
But … but … I thought college athletes sign with a school because of the education.
The NCAA might have a whole world of issues, and it might be continuing to do an amazing job of hosing over the players when it comes to unionization, agents, revenue, endorsements, and eligibly, but at least it’s listening when it comes to the problems surrounding the transfer rules.
As Dennis Dodd and CBS Sports reported, the NCAA is listening to an idea that would allow players to transfer schools if their head coach got fired or left for another gig. However, the players couldn’t follow that coach to his new school.
Besides it not being fair for the players to be excluded from following their coaches – there’s absolutely no reason for that caveat – if this passes, it’s going to be an absolute feeding frenzy on any team with a coach on a hot seat.
If this rule was in place last season, you wouldn’t be doing your job recruiting if you didn’t have someone living and scouting in Knoxville, Tallahassee, Los Angeles and Gainesville, at least, being around just to say hello.
However, to be fair to all coaches, recruiters and the entire college football talent-gathering process, a few rules do have to be in place that allows everyone to know what their dealing with.
Players – let’s cut out the whole student-athlete bullspit – can’t just threaten to transfer for just any old reason, like being benched, yelled at, or not getting their weekly bag of cash on time. If you have open transfer rules, it would be a nightmare to keep the vultures away, and half of the coaches’ and recruiters’ time would be spent trying to court other teams’ players just to keep up.
Currently, the one year of lost eligibility to transfer is a good enough barrier to make players at least think long and hard about making any sort of a move, and in a sort of life lesson way, yeah, committing to a school, a program and a coach is important.
However, there are too many instances of players being locked into bad situations because the system works against them.
Like if a player really, really, likes an assistant, signs the Letter Of Intent because of that coach, and then the assistant leaves for another job. Or, if a head coach gets fired – like Rich Rodriguez at Arizona.
Or, if a player would’ve signed at Texas A&M because he liked Kevin Sumlin, signed somewhere else, and then would’ve loved to have gone to Arizona if he had known how the coaching thing all went down.
Or, if a player signs on, and then three other better prospects who play the same position – hey, what’s up, Georgia quarterback situation? – end up signing, too.
Yeah, the NCAA is a little bit lenient when it comes to probation and sanctions – allowing Penn State and Ole Miss players to transfer without penalty after those two were hit with their respective penalties – but that’s not enough.
There was the Let Them Have Their Tar-Tar Sauce idea of the Graduate Transfer Rule, which has turned into free agency for mediocre quarterbacks, but again, that sort of screws the players, too.
Let’s say you’re a quarterback who waited your turn to show what you can do, you’ve done everything right, you know the system, you’re going to get the shot to be the No. 1 guy, and then some doorknob grad transfers in because he thinks he can beat you out.
So to keep this in the land of the real and the possible, here’s my five-point plan for fixing this whole transfer thing.
1. All players are free to transfer without penalty if their head coach leaves for any reason.
And, he’s allowed to follow that coach to the new school. A player knows his coach, knows his system, and knows how he rolls – why wouldn’t he want to play for his guy?
The perfect example is Purdue linebacker T.J. McCollum, who was a star for Western Kentucky, followed Jeff Brohm to Purdue as a grad transfer, and was a key part of the resurgence of the defense.
The argument will be that a coach will try to bring over all of his good guys, and the players in place at a school will probably be in trouble, but those guys can transfer out, too.
2. A coach or school is never, ever allowed to block a transfer.
If an Alabama player wants to transfer to Auburn, or vice versa, or Michigan to Ohio State, USC to UCLA, Coke to Pepsi, he can’t be blocked. If a player wants out, he gets to go wherever he wants whether it’s down the road, in the same division, whatever. Coaches shouldn’t have the ability or power to prevent a kid from trying to better his position in life, just like players don’t have the ability or power to prevent a coach to leave for a better job.
3. Split the difference on the eligibility – you lose half a season to transfer anywhere for any reason, not a full season.
And now you give a little bit to both sides.
For the player, if he misses the first half of the season and gets to play the second half of the year, that’s great because he gets to keep his career going, HOWEVER – and here’s the potential kicker – that half a year counts as a full season of eligibility lost. That’s it. There’s no redshirt, and there’s no injury provision for an extra year if something happens.
Take, for example, Jacob Eason. He played as a true freshman at Georgia and has two years of eligibility left at Washington. If he sat out the first half of the 2018 season, then he could either play the second half and then have one year of eligibility left, or, he could sit out the whole year and have two years remaining.
If Washington was in the midst of a possible CFP and Pac-12 Championship season, and Jake Browning went down, it might be worth it for Eason to play.
4. A player is allowed to transfer penalty free if a graduate transfer is signed on at his same position.
Granted, there’s room for interpretation here when it comes to exact positions in some schemes, but some ground rules would have to be set – this would mostly apply to quarterbacks.
Yes, XYZ State, you can sign on that grad transfer quarterback from ABC Tech, but you do so at the risk of losing the guys who committed to you in the first place.
And finally …
5. Raise the scholarship limit.
Coaches will go out-of-their-minds insane at any sort of major changes to the transfer rules – “you mind if we dance with yo dates” – because they’ll spend a big portion of their time trying to keep their guys happy. So to throw them a bone …
Up the scholarship limit from 85 to 90.
The restrictions were put in place so that the monster schools couldn’t be that Scrabble player who hoarded all the Us so that the guy with the Q is stuck. Players were in a bad spot by signing on, and then realizing there were 14 other guys for the same position – and there was no way to get out of it.
Now, if you allow kids an easier path to transfer, it’s okay to go get more good players, see who you like, and then realize that you’re going to lose a few who don’t make your cut.
There. Done and done. I just solved your problem, college football.
Now, about that whole College Football Playoff selection process thing …