Chaotic Transfer Portal is Destroying College Football

Jordan Ingram Editorials

Fans have been going through some things since the regular season ended two weeks ago. Players are jumping from rosters like hot beans in bacon grease, fueled by the promise of more playing time and lucrative NIL deals. Gone are the days of program building from the ground up; coaches develop players from scratch with the hopes of eventually enjoying the fruits of their labor.

Now, it’s easy-bake football, just bring a bag of money. Welcome to the age of collegiate free agency. And you can blame the transfer portal for destroying college football as we know it. Mr. FishDuck was playing the sportsbook free bets in Ohio and took a break to discuss the transfer portal.

Gone are the days of a team sticking together to take care of unfinished business. This kind of old-timey thinking has become merely a fanciful notion — a quixotic daydream for the nostalgic fanboy. Today, a program is considered lucky if they hold onto a majority of its best players for more than a season. The turnover is crazy — something never seen in our lifetime.

According to Higher-ed Ethics Watch, the transfer portal has created “a lack of loyalty to the schools from which they transfer, a lack of loyalty to their teammates, many of whom cannot take advantage of the transfer portal because of their anonymity as a student-athlete, commercialization of college athletics, which once was a fully amateur sport, and outsiders buying the allegiance of student-athletes through promises of being able to financially benefit from their NIL after they transfer.”

Five-star linebacker Justin Flowe has entered the transfer portal.

Don’t get me wrong. There are huge advantages to the transfer portal, and the Oregon Ducks have certainly reaped the benefits of plug-and-play athletes since its inception in 2018 (quarterbacks Bo Nix and Anthony Brown; wide receivers Chase Cota, Devon Williams and Juwan Johnson; running backs Mar’Keise Irving and Noah Whittington). A talented player looking for a new experience with a different school can be the missing piece that helps turn a program around or elevate a good team to the national spotlight. Lord only knows what Dan Lanning’s first season would have looked like if Nix wasn’t at the helm.

The popularity of transferring schools has only grown over the past several years. In 2020, 10% of all college football players (FBS, FCS) entered the transfer portal, increasing to 12% the following year, or 2,538 players. Since the window opened on Dec. 5, 2022, more than 1,600 college football players have entered the transfer portal, ESPN reports. Players seem to like it, coaches are benefiting from it — what’s the problem?

For starters, most players are in jeopardy of losing their scholarships by entering the portal. A school is not obligated to honor scholarships once a player enters the player, even if they withdraw and return. Once in the portal, not every player lands on a team. The NCAA released 2021 data that shows 40% of players entering the portal failed to find a better school, 54% landed at an FBS school, and just 59% of scholarship transfers found FBS scholarships. That means there were a lot of players who didn’t have a chair when the music stopped (Or lost their seat to someone else in search of a comfier one).

Bo Nix was a huge gain for the Oregon Ducks in the transfer portal.

The portal has also impacted high school recruits, who are receiving fewer scholarship offers from coaches who are holding onto their limited offerings for blue chip transfers. I guess you can’t blame them. Any Power 5 coach is expected to win games and quickly. The pressure is intense. The upside of the portal is that it softens the sting when a five-star skill-position player flips commitments (ahem, Dante Moore?) If a prep athlete bails, a coach can find redemption in the portal.

Sure, the possibility of snagging a veteran player from a top program is truly an exciting prospect. Right now, however, the whole system feels like the Wild West and a little bit out of control. I hope this is what fans want for the sport because I don’t see it changing anytime soon.

Transfer portal taketh away…

So far, the Ducks have lost 16 players to the portal: Justin Flowe, Jonathan Flowe, Sean Dollars, Jabril McNeil, Dont’e Thornton, Seven McGee, Byron Cardwell, Jay Butterfield, Bradyn Swinson, Bram Walden, Jackson LaDuke, Brandon Buckner, Terrell Tilmon, Moliki Matavao, Dawson Jaramillo, and Jaden Navarrette according to 247Sports.

If it seems like a lot of talent is out the door, that’s because it is. A large number of those leaving Eugene are four-star players. In return, the Ducks have locked in just three commitments so far, including linebacker Jestin Jacobs (Iowa) wide receiver Traeshon Holden (Alabama) and cornerback Khyree Jackson (Alabama). Several prospects are on official visits to Eugene: OL Junior Angilau (Texas), OL Ajani Cornelius (Rhode Island), and OL Jeremiah Byers (UTEP). 

Jordan Ingram
San Diego, California
Top photo by Craig Strobeck

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