SMU Players Sitting Out Proves Sports Media Wrong, Again

If you dare to point out the pitfalls of a wide-open transfer portal, a majority of sports media will be quick to label you as some stodgy old-timer. 

Bringing up instances where NIL deals don’t appear to be serving their intended purpose? You’ll be called “High School Harry” or “Leather Helmet Lenny.”

How dare anyone point out the downside of giving 18-year-olds to 22-year-olds potentially significantly amounts of money and the full-control to twist a system to benefit them?

The latest example of this? Look no further than Dallas, Texas — home of the SMU Mustangs.

This week, news broke that multiple SMU players plan to sit out the rest of the season.

Multiple SMU players threaten to sit out 2022 season
Multiple SMU players threaten to sit out 2022 season to preserve redshirt status.
(Photos via Getty).

Sophomore safety Isaiah Nwokobia, veteran DB Chace Cromartie, and receivers Roderick Daniels Jr. and Jayleen Record, will sit out to preserve their redshirt and enter the portal, per numerous reports.

While local outlets report the players haven’t “communicated” their intentions yet to the coaches, we call things what they are at OutKick. 

OutKick 360: Multiple SMU Players Threaten To Sit Out 2022 Season

So let me say this plainly: They quit.

SMU was off to a slightly disappointing 2-2 season when these players decided to leave behind guys they’ve worked with all offseason — and over a month of the regular season — to pursue greener pastures elsewhere.

After Wednesday’s rescheduled matchup against the UCF Knights, the Mustangs are now 2-3 after 41-19 loss in Orlando.


OPEN PORTAL + NIL = DISASTER

Most in media have become terrified of calling out college players that they refuse to acknowledge the obvious.

An open transfer portal mixed with NIL is a slippery slopes that may benefit players in the short term, but will hurt college football in the long run.  

I’m not some absolutist when it comes to the transfer portal or NIL.

There are legitimate reasons for players to transfer — when those reasons arise, players should be able to move without being penalized a full season.

But a player deciding his team isn’t winning as much as expected, or he isn’t having enough fun, is no reason to tell your coaching staff that you refuse to play for your scholarship.

That player should be told to leave campus immediately and asked to hand in all team issued gear. It won’t happen because coaches don’t ever want to look like the bad guy because it may harm them in recruiting the next entitled 4-star diva.

So everyone will continue coddling the players and 90% of sports media will be happily complicit in doing so. 

You guys remember scholarships? Remember education? Remember when these were powerful motivators for young people? They apparently no longer matter. 

The same sportswriters quick to argue a college scholarship isn’t valuable will be quicker to point out their Liberal Arts degree from some fancy school.

So which is it? Is an education only worthless for meathead football players and beneficial for the sports media illuminati or can we all acknowledge that a full scholarship is something that’s still highly valuable in America and also something that’s earned? 

Money is a powerful motivator. No doubt. Top players have every right to factor NIL earnings potential to their college decision.

But spare me the “scholarships aren’t that valuable” argument. If you believe this, I would love to sit you down and explain how great it felt when I finally paid off my student loan debt at 34 years old. 


In April, Miami hooper Isaiah Wong said he would enter the transfer portal if his NIL wasn’t increased later that week. Former Pitt receiver Jordan Addison left Steel City for the City of Angels — this isn’t new.

This SMU story is not the first and won’t be the last instance of players manipulating a system created with good intentions. 

Spare me your tweets saying, “But… but… the coaches leave for other jobs all the time.” Great.

The players are allowed to graduate from college and start working their way up the coaching food chain starting annually at $22,000 as a grad assistant.

Grinding special teams tape in hopes of landing a position coaching position which hopefully leads to a coordinator role and then maybe they, too, can land a head coaching gig.

From there, they can hope to find success and decide to bolt for more money at another job. There’s a system of hierarchy for a reason.

Without it, there’s chaos.

For those reading this: how would it work if you walked into your boss’s office and demanded the same professional liberties he or she has even though your contract is vastly different from theirs and you are their subordinate?

This is what sports media is arguing when it comes to college football. It makes no sense.

Players aren’t equal to coaches. EVP’s aren’t equal to CEO’s. Privates aren’t equal to Generals. This is reality. Not some utopian sense of privilege that leads to chaos. If things aren’t kept under control, chaos is exactly what we will get in college football.  


An open transfer portal that allows players to transfer without penalty is a great thing.

NIL is a great development for college sports when used to give players the money they are worth.

But open transfer portals and NIL deals together are being manipulated and it didn’t take experts to predict it would happen.

The solution isn’t to go in reverse and end both because let’s face it … the cat is out of the bag.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2021 that the NCAA violated antitrust laws by placing limits on the education-related benefits that schools can provide to athletes in 2020, OutKick previously reported.

The case — and subsequent violation — stemmed from member schools agreeing to limit how much each program can compensate athletes for academic-related costs, set forth by the NCAA.

While the NCAA v. Alston ruling didn’t impact NIL reform, SCOTUS unanimously invalidated a portion of the NCAA’s “amateurism” rules. The nation’s highest court said in it’s ruling that the NCAA can no longer bar colleges from providing athletes with education-related benefits such as free laptops or paid post-graduate internships.


WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?

The solution is for media covering the sport to get back to common sense and honest dialogue about the pros and cons of topics like NIL, the transfer portal, and pay-for-play.

If everyone would stop digging in on one absolute side vs. the other — and decide to voice honest, thoughtful opinions — more people will be willing share without fear of being dragged on social media.

This will lead to deeper thinking and maybe even some common-sense decision making about the future of the sport I love so deeply.

I’m disturbed by the SMU story. Not because I feel sorry for the Mustangs as a program — or because I believe they won’t benefit from players doing the same at another program — but because they will.

I feel sorry for all college football fans.

Because I still remember a time when it mattered what hat a player chose on Signing Day.

I even remember when I bothered to look up what class a player was in school. None of that matters now.

It’s free flowing. It’s not even year-to-year, it’s week-to-week.


Watch OutKick 360 live on YouTube from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET Monday through Friday. Follow OutKick 360 on Twitter, and listen to full podcast episodes here.

Chad Withrow hosts OutKick 360 — follow him on Twitter or email him at chad.withrow@outkick.com.

Written by Chad Withrow

Chad Withrow hosts OutKick 360 and has covered Nashville sports, statewide, and SEC college issues and headlines since 2004.

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