Why the New Transfer Rule Is Great for the Pac-12

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On Monday the Pac-12 voted unanimously to approve immediate eligibility for intraconference transfers. In other words, players transferring from one Pac-12 school to another no longer have to sit out a year, but instead will be immediately eligible to play. The ACC recently decided to do away with the rule within their own conference, and the NCAA is considering doing the same on a national level. Until that happens, this is a great rule change for the Pac-12.

The Pac-12 is already struggling holding onto top West Coast talent coming out of high school, and this rule change allows Pac-12 schools to preserve the talent that they already have rather than losing it to other conferences. This will not, however, affect graduate transfers, who have the ability to go wherever they want and play immediately.

The Best Players Will Not Transfer

This rule will benefit the majority of Pac-12 teams, as most programs in the conference do not pull in four and five-star recruits in large numbers. Looking at the 2021 recruiting classes across the Pac-12, Oregon and USC combined for 36 four and five-star recruits, while the rest of the Pac-12 only had 22. There may be initial fears that this rule change will open the door for star players to transfer in droves out of the Pac-12 in search of a better team. In reality, though, this will be incredibly rare, because high-caliber players tend to stay where they are and leave early for the NFL draft rather than risk diminishing their draft stock by transferring to another program.

This offseason, Tennessee’s star player, Henry To’oto’o, transferred to Alabama, an SEC intraconference transfer where the players currently have to sit out a year after transferring. This is an anomaly and only happened because of the multitude of problems facing the Tennessee program, which includes the firing of a large portion of the coaching staff. Unless To’oto’o receives a waiver from the NCAA, or the SEC approves a similar rule as the Pac-12, he will have to sit a year before he can see the field again. The likelihood of the SEC approving a change to intraconference transfers is high, which may have factored into To’oto’o’s decision to stay within the SEC.

From Twitter

Henry To’oto’o was an established star with Tennessee before opting to transfer to Alabama.

Looking at the transfer portal, the average star rating for players looking to change programs is approximately three stars. The vast majority of players in the transfer portal are underused players looking for a chance to play more minutes at a different program. With the wealth of talent in Oregon’s recent recruiting classes, this means we could see some talent leave the program for other Pac-12 schools. We have already seen a large number of Oregon players enter the transfer portal this past year as highly talented freshmen join the team.

One such player is Cale Millen, who opted to transfer out of Oregon at the end of the 2020 season. With such a loaded quarterback room, it was unlikely he would see the field at Autzen. He opted to transfer to Northern Arizona State, but if this new rule were in place when he started his transfer process, would any other Pac-12 school have shown any interest in him? Although he never started, Millen had been with Oregon for multiple years, taking reps in practice and going through Oregon’s strength and conditioning program. Other Pac-12 schools may have seen potential in him.

This is something that, as Oregon fans, we will have to get used to. Players have the ability, more than ever, to leave for greener pastures when they are stuck at a school where they have no hope of ever seeing the field.

From Twitter

Cale Millen transferred to Northern Arizona University, but if he could have played immediately would he have stayed in the PAC?

Keeping Talent Within The Pac-12

The rest of the Pac-12 will benefit from these transfers, which will help elevate the talent base for the Pac-12. It will allow players to free themselves from the bench at one school and compete for playing time at another. There’s no guarantee they will be a success at their new school, but it gives players a chance. Moreover, this rule change will give players who just saw their program’s coaching staff turnover an opportunity to play elsewhere. If coaches aren’t required to have school loyalty, why should the players?

Oregon has been picky about their use of the transfer portal, since the Ducks can fill their allotment of 25 scholarships a year fairly easily. However, if this rule were in effect in 2019, Oregon fans would have had the opportunity to see Devon Williams play right away instead of waiting until 2020 for him to make his debut.

Tom Corno

Devon Williams transferred from USC, had to sit out a year, and is now an impact player at Oregon.

The only team that appears to be unsettled by this change in rules is Washington. Washington has actively worked to block immediate eligibility of their transfers. Former Washington quarterback Ethan Garbers transferred to UCLA, but his petition for immediate eligibility was blocked by Washington. With this rule change, Garbers is able to actually compete for the UCLA starting spot right away instead of waiting a year. However, it is highly unlikely Garbers will win the starting spot because of the returning quarterback talent already at UCLA. Immediate eligibility does not mean immediate impact — it just means player opportunity.

The Pac-12 needs all their programs to beat their out-of-conference opponents. Winning will help improve the conference’s reputation, which can lead to more money for all schools within the Pac-12. Even if that means Oregon State picks up some of Oregon’s hand-me-down players, isn’t that better for everyone, including Oregon?

David Marsh 
Portland, Oregon
Top Photo By: Tom Corno

Andrew Mueller, the FishDuck.com Volunteer Editor for this article, works in higher education in Chicago, Illinois.

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Sorry……off topic here but just wanted to express frustration as both the Beavers and the Ducks fell apart in late innings handing Arizona the Pac 12 baseball championship here in the last hour or so.

As you say Charles……that’s baseball. It looked real promising for the Ducks as the Beavers were up 5-1 going into the top of the 8th before choking and giving up 5 runs over the two last frames.

Ducks also did their share of choking as they were up early and looking strong but just fell apart over the course of nine innings and Standford was able to take the game into extra innings before putting us away.

Unfortunately since we lost the series to Stanford we may have also lost the chance to host a regional……in fact that is the likely scenario at this point.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

I am so frustrated with Oregon’s game today; so MANY opportunities to finish it with simple sacrifice fly-outs with one out and a man on third.

And yeah….depending on the Beavs is a loser’s cause. So now, even if we sweep Cal–Arizona wins the Pac-12. I do think we’ll get a Regional, but a Super-Regional was in reach, but not now.

Oregon has a good team with a ton of great players, but we are still a few short. (Like relief pitchers, etc.)

I’m limping with a broken wing/heart right now…

And….nothing is off-topic here since we only have the one thread. Thus if we wish to discuss something other than the article–go for it everyone!


Yeah, I think you are right after looking closer, we should still host a regional.

Real tough to win when you leave so many runners on base in scoring position. Gotta turn that around in order to progress past the regional.


Why would any player want to leave Oregon for another P12 school? :)


I think you also have to give credence to the smaller likely events like family emergencies and such. I remember it was either VT or WVU had a player transfer in a few years ago and was denied eligibility even though his mother was dying from cancer. He should have been eligible but he wasn’t justin fields level of talent so… Denied.

If Kingsley had a sick parent or something i would completely understand a transfer to UT. again another reason although a lot less likely compared to playing time.

Jon Sousa

OSU has done a good job of getting quality players from the transfer portal. It is making them stronger faster.

I am in favor of anything that makes the PAC 12 stronger and more competitive nationally. If the NCAA is going to open up transfers to out of conference schools right away, it makes sense that the conference should protect its wealth of talent by doing the same.

Oregon is recruiting well, what many would say is above their weight. (That remains to be seen.) With the talent Oregon is bringing in, they are no doubt going to lose talent faster – both to early departures to the NFL, and to the transfer portal.

I would rather good talent, that can’t break into the two deep, stay in the PAC12. It helps the PAC and opens up room to recruit more 4 and 5 star talent.


I like it, I wasn’t a student athlete but I transferred schools after my sophomore year just because the one I originally picked as a 17 year old turned out to not be what was best for me, no reason to make life for difficult for a kid just because he/she also plays a sport. And not to be that guy but it’s Northern Arizona University not Northern Arizona State

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

It seems that college football is moving the direction of college basketball, and I am not sure it is a good destination. I think you make great points, but all these transfers seem to diminish the “student” part of the equation that much further. It was already a semi-farce, but now…


And how will transferring through the portal affect the graduation rate of the school from which a player has transferred? Even if the athlete graduates from the new school, will it still count as “not graduating” for the original school. I mean a player can leave before graduating to sign for big $$$ with a pro team, and it still counts as the student not graduating.


In 2004 the ncaa changed the way they tracked graduation rates and now a school is accountable for each student that transfers in.
So for example, Texas Tech is accountable for Tyler Shough and he doesn’t count against Oregon.
This new method is called APR, athletic progress report.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

I think it is going to need to be tweaked again…


Great point Sir Charles. (Has anyone ever called you that? It just came to me because I saw a clip featuring Chas. Barkley haha. Please don’t ban me if it is forbidden!)

I think the ship sailed long ago at the top levels to continue to make the point that these are amateur student athletes. The Alabamas of the world are developmental programs for the professional level.

As a side benefit, the athletes can also get an education in case the professional level doesn’t work out, but it is not why the schools are recruiting them.

On a personal level, I hate how it has become in college basketball. I liked, growing up, watching the guys under Don Monson develop over their years in the program and fight to win.

Of course, he was not getting into the tournament or winning conference championships either. Altman is an excellent coach, seems like a master of the transfer portal, and has great success, but every year there is a cast of characters who I know nothing about.

Basically, it is “junior” pro basketball without all the money. And for me, maybe a curmudgeon, it has much less appeal to me. Could care less, just like I feel about the NBA, although I like watching it to see the skill.

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck

I will take that nickname anytime…much better than some of the others! Usually when a sword is used around my neck…it is not to “knight-me,” at least in terms of web discussions!

Agreed with your college basketball thoughts; the only thing keeping me interested in Mens college basketball is Dana Altman…


I actually think the transferring policies can help lend themselves to the student. I’m not saying it always works this way but what if you are 17 commit to WSU and after finishing your prerequisites decide you want to study marine bio, WSU doesn’t offer that but now you can transfer to OSU and complete the program you decide.

Again i’ve made this comment elsewhere but I just don’t think coaches should get to dictate what you do for education. Schooler was being asked to participate even though he still had a year of eligibility left. now oregon doesn’t need to guarantee him a spot next year and so school had the right to transfer.(it helps that he was a grad transfer i think).


Before, I thought the strength of great teams and programs was great talent marked with a core of third, fourth, and fifth year players. Guys who had learned, bulked up, mastered the game who were honed by experience.

The changes to transfer rules may move the needle. Changes in college football are not my friend – “who moved my cheese?”


Great point, and hopefully the move will allow for greater parity and benefit the student athlete.

As far as benefiting the student I am not sure how this will work. Does this give the student athlete more time to focus on school, or will it just be another distraction from what they should prioritize?

I tend to think it will be just another way for programs to leverage the irrational dream of kids making it to the NFL. The focus will be on playing time, not the long game of working hard, and getting a degree. It will be interesting to see if the graduation rates go down?

On parity I think it might just allow for some programs to rise up. A school like OSU may be able to better fill holes in the roster. Good stable coaching will be attractive to the malcontents.

If you look at what happened when scholarships limits went from limitless to 85, the rich still got richer. The big southern programs were able to beat the small, Notre Dames, and the unattractive, Washington’s, schools which had bullied their way to elite status. College Football definitely benefited as attendance grew, and programs saw the mega money.

It will be interesting to watch what happens. Do the TooToo’s just make the Alabama’s that much more dominant, it seems like that is what is happening. I just might also allow for some programs to elevate, I hope so.

My wish, suppose it is just a fantasy, is someday, the student athlete will receive more academic benefits, years to graduate. So far it seems like college football is the only one benefiting. It seems this move is wrapped into the idea players have more choice, but who will really benefit?


Time will tell. What’s done is done. CFB is evolving. A constant is the fumbling NCAA.