It may not have been the main intended consequence, but the NCAA’s new policy on transfer players has created a bit of a free for all. Due to the circumstances surrounding the pandemic, the NCAA is permitting student athletes to transfer one time in their college careers without having to sit out a year. As it pertains to college football, this has created a potentially unforeseen dynamic with regards to signing new players ahead of a season.
The current threshold of players a Division I college football team may sign each year is 25. However, the increase in transfer action has left schools in a bit of a conundrum. Some schools might experience a mini exodus of players leaving, and 25 signees might not be enough to fill that void. Other schools may not have very many departing transfers, but could have a few open spots to fill and may look to the transfer portal to fill them.
University of Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck has an interesting view on the dichotomy this situation can create.
“There are two ways of looking at it. The first signing day is like the draft. The second part is free agency, and that’s the transfer portal. You’ll see less and less people signing 25 high school kids,” he predicted. Via SI.com
Fleck’s guess as to how this could play out could very well come to fruition. Why would coaches use a significant majority of their signee allotment on untested high school players who need time to develop? A transfer would already have some seasoning and experience with the college game, and would help a coach win faster, in theory.
There are different ideas being bounced around about how to accommodate this new recruiting world. Some are suggesting that teams should receive additional signee slots to add up to the number of players who transfer away from the program. In other words, if University X loses four players via transfer, they’ll be granted the baseline 25 signee slots, plus an additional four to replace their departures. Others want to increase the baseline figure in one fowl swoop, making the number higher for all schools across the board.
The transfer portal undoubtedly will be a hotly contested focus of coaches across the country, but schools are hoping that deserving high school players will not be left on the sidelines as a result.
“ We want to maintain the ability to recruit high school players. If we don’t have any corrective legislation, people aren’t going to do that. We’re trying to maintain high school recruitment and make sure universities hard hit by losses to the transfer portal are OK,” said Todd Berry, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association. Via CBS Sports