The transfer portal window for the fall/winter was supposed to close on January 2nd at 11:59 PM. With hundreds of new players in the portal since the deadline, it obviously hasn’t happened. Many of these players announced their intent to transfer after they found out that their head coach would be taking a job elsewhere. Teams, including Alabama, Washington, and Arizona have had their head coaches leave, opening the transfer portal for them again for 30 days.
Many of these players end up following their coaches to their new school, but in the case of others, such as Charles Yates from Arizona, they end up transferring to a new school completely.
Arizona transfer defensive back Charles Yates Jr. has committed to Old Dominion.
— Sidelines Transfer Portal (@SSN_Portal) January 15, 2024
Of all the reasons to enter the transfer portal, losing a Head Coach is a great reason, but this exception to the rule is putting other players at a huge disadvantage. This issue just adds to the shopping list of other issues with the current transfer portal.
Arizona is Wide Open
The floodgates of the transfer portal are about to open for Arizona Football players. Many of the players will end up following Jedd Fisch to Washington where there are a lot of open positions following DeBoer’s players following him to Alabama.
That leaves Arizona wide open.
One of two things can happen. First, whoever is hired to take the Arizona job may end up bringing a bunch of players with him. Of course, this is only realistically possible if it is a Head Coach at another school. If a coordinator from another school, such as TCU, were to take the job, that wouldn’t open up the transfer portal for TCU players. In order to transfer, they’d either have to wait until after Spring practices, or transfer and hope to get a waiver.
The second scenario that could happen is that Arizona just doesn’t have a solid starting group until after the transfer portal opens up again. In this scenario, a majority of the Arizona players leave (since they can), and a new coach comes in, and has to prepare with the leftover players until more transfers can come in.
Regardless, this is putting Arizona in a tough spot. And if not Arizona, it puts the next school in a tough spot, or until a team hires someone who is not currently a Head Coach somewhere else.
Early Transfers Are Now in Tough Spots
Imagine you are a running back who decides to transfer to BYU because you see a great opportunity and a vacant position where you can start on day one. You fill out the paperwork, enter the portal, and wait until the last day of eligibility to commit, just to make sure nobody else is signing there as well.
Skip forward two weeks, and now Washington players have been given 30 days to enter the portal. Now a 5-star running back who is rated higher than you and is going to get a huge NIL deal gets picked up by BYU, and now you are second string again, and there is nothing you can do about it.
This is the scenario of some players right now who thought they transferred to the perfect school.
How to Fix the Transfer Portal
First, the transfer portal needs to open after the college football season is completely over, or at least until the new calendar hits January 1st. This would fix a lot of the other current issues going on in college football, such as bowl-game opt-outs and coaches being forced to focus on things other than the bowl game.
I understand that the reason against this is students entering school late. Here is something most people don’t realize, though: most players take classes year-round, including during the summer when everyone else is off. This means most players have their degrees in three years. Taking a semester off isn’t going to be the end of the world for these players if it comes to that.
By doing this, the portal can stay open for much longer. Make the portal open from January 3rd until February 3rd. By that time, all of the coaching carousel should be done and players should be confident in where they end up transferring.
The second change that needs to occur is holding players to one transfer, regardless of the reason. Grad transfers, coaching changes, fit, or looking for a better opportunity should be limited to one transfer. The one and only exception should be if a player transfers to a school and then that coach gets a new position before the start of the full season (Will Rogers example).
College Football Needs Stability
ESPN recently came out with an article stating that 20.5% of current FBS rostered players are transfer players. If nothing changes, that number is going to skyrocket into the 30-40% range, if not higher. Last year there were 2,726 players that entered the transfer portal. This year, we are already at 2,162 and that number will continue to rise and past 3,000.
There are only 15,800 FBS players. Having 3,000 transfer portal entrees (19% of active players) in just one season is not healthy for the sport, the fans, or the teams.
By implementing these changes, college football will find more stability, and more players will end up in a place where they can be successful.