Why Mike Leach Is So Right About NCAA Transfer Portal

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Goodness, you can’t look at a college football player wrong these days, or he will transfer. And he’ll do it before the bowl to get back at you.

“I’m taking my ball and going to the transfer portal. So there!”

The NCAA transfer portal rule that allows players to transfer to another school without losing a season sitting out makes sense when it involves players who are not playing much, if at all. They can find a greener football field where they can play, or think they can, and the school can try to find a better player, or think it can.

The graduate transfer rule also makes sense as players must first graduate before going to another school and playing the next season, which also makes them think about their decision longer.

What is happening now does not make sense. Players who started this past season who could very well start again next season are entering the transfer portal at an alarming rate and skipping town before the bowl they helped earn for their team.

The list is growing, and many of them are quarterbacks. On Monday, Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler, who entered the portal two weeks ago, announced he will transfer to South Carolina. He will obviously not play for Oklahoma in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29 against Oregon. Hey, why not just let him play for the Gamecocks against North Carolina in something called the Mayo Bowl on Dec. 30? There probably won’t be many watching.

Rattler, a red-shirt sophomore from Pinnacle High in Phoenix, was the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the nation in 2019. He threw for 1,483 yards and 11 touchdowns this season, but he was benched in favor of freshman Caleb Williams midway through the year. Then his coach, Lincoln Riley, left to become the coach at USC.

Understandable move by Rattler, but he still could have started next year at Oklahoma, which surely will continue to be better in football than South Carolina.

Also on Monday, Texas A&M quarterback Zach Calzada entered the transfer portal after starting 10 games in 2021 and throwing for 2,185 yards and 17 touchdowns. He heroically shook off an injury and led the Aggies to one of the greatest victories in program history — 41-38 over No. 1 Alabama. He leaves the Aggies quarterback duties for the Gator Bowl on Dec. 31 against Wake Forest to walk-on freshman Blake Bost, who has completed 2 of 7 passes with an interception this season.

Yes, Calzada became the starter only because the original starter, freshman Haynes King, was injured. And King well could be the starter next season, but so could Calzada. Is he chicken?

Do Calzada and Rattler want guaranteed starting jobs? Few things in life are guaranteed, kids.

LSU starting sophomore quarterback Max Johnson also recently entered the transfer portal, leaving the Tigers with just walk-on freshman quarterback Matt O’Dowd or converted wide receiver Jontre Kirklin for their Texas Bowl against Kansas State. Kirklin played quarterback in high school, and so did many others. Or freshman quarterback Garrett Nussmeier, who could beat out Johnson next season, can waste a whole season of his future by playing in a third tier bowl between two teams with a combined 13-11 record.

Incoming five-star quarterback Walker Howard could also beat out Johnson next year. Do these kids just not like competition? Yes, LSU has a new coach, Brian Kelly, whose offense at Notre Dame was not exactly ultra-progressive. And Kelly did recruit Howard, so Johnson might be making the right move. But Johnson doesn’t have to make it now. That’s the problem.

Johnson could stick around and put his play in the Texas Bowl on film for his future, though the Texas Bowl might be categorized as independent film. Calzada and Rattler also do not have to decide now.

But it is getting more and more popular to ghost your team. Other quarterbacks who have recently decided to leave their programs hanging, even though they logged significant playing time and could continue to do so, are Auburn’s Bo Nix, USC’s Kedon Slovis and Tennessee’s Harrison Bailey.

The transfer portal rule needs to be adjusted so as to incorporate some of the graduate transfer rule. The NCAA should make players stay at their first school for at least two years before a transfer. That will lessen the number of rash, emotional decisions.

Too often, players and those close to them, such as Little League parents, push toward the portal with the attitude of the spoiled kid on the playground who brought the football. When he doesn’t like how things go, he takes his ball — his delusional attitude — and goes home.

It could help these players more in their future in life by sticking it out — at least through the bowl or for a year or two.

“There’s a point to where there’s a huge value later on of persevering through adverse situations,” Mississippi State coach Mike Leach said Saturday during a press conference to discuss his team’s Liberty Bowl against Texas Tech on Dec. 28. One can’t give young kids to much liberty.

“It’s one of the biggest absurdities that I’ve seen, and it’s selfish, too,” Leach said of the rash of players skipping bowls as they transfer or prepare for the NFL Draft. “You’ve got an obligation to the place that helped build and develop you and finish it out in the bowl. That’s part of it. You owe it to your team. You owe it to your fans. You owe it to your coaches.”

Many have been quick to criticize Leach because he left his team and fan base at Washington State after the 2019 season for more money to coach Mississippi State. But at least Leach coached the bowl for Washington State.

And Leach is an adult who has paid his dues. It’s America. You can leave a job. Sorry, these college kids have not quite earned that right yet. In other words, do as I say, not as I do, for now. And after you grow up, or play in the bowl, or wait a couple of years, then you can do the same.

“They can’t play one more college game? Well, that’s ridiculous,” Leach said. “It’s the most bizarre thing in the world to me.”

Yeah, just wait until you see some of these bizarre bowls coming up with rag-tag rosters and third stringers playing. It will look like a spring game.

And perhaps one day, bowls will feature players transferring from one team to the other at halftime.

Written by Glenn Guilbeau


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  1. I’m thinking it’s probably ok if these athletes exercise poor judgement, make rash decisions, follow bad advice, and jump from team to team… I mean, I think you have to let people make their mistakes, and the old way to transfer was draconian at best. The colleges pretty much rake in the cash on these guys, the coaches seem to be dodging out of contracts early, and the schools are taking scholarships of non performers and firing coaches more often than seems necessary. This is big money, and the athletes are underpaid, unsophisticated pawns in the big money machine. College has become a high priced racket.

  2. It’s now a professional game with less skilled players. Everybody demanded that players are paid because the NCAA is abusing them. Everybody demanded that there’s a playoff system which usually just resembles what the BCS model would’ve spit out. Everybody demands that players can choose to do what makes them happy. Now that we realize this is a full-blown shit show, it’s starting to resemble society. Everybody’s entitled to everything they want and nobody cares to be challenged to actually get better.

    • Lmfao exactly what I’m saying although I’ve been saying for 2 decades they need a playoff system for us the fans that’s the only thing that should have changed. The FCS has always had one and it’s awesome every single season as an Alum from an FCS school it’s 10 times more entertaining then the shitty two weeks of bowls leading up to the bcs. Make it a 12 team field and allow each round to have different companies bid for the naming rights to the bowl….problem solved sponsors get their promo time and fans get their playoff system.

  3. I don’t have a problem with the kids having the exact same rights to leave as the coaches who they put their faith in as recruits. I do, though, think the transfer portal should have an open and close date like Jan 15 – Apr 15 or so. Wait until the season is over but don’t wait so long that it messes with spring games/summer practice etc. It’s essentially become free agency in college so why not have a free agency period just like the pros? It’s a win-win.

  4. Just go back to having to sit out a year after transferring. That would make the decision a little more difficult. The way it is now every single program deals with transfers in and out like free agents.

  5. Lmfao yeah no fucking shit this would end up being the result. Allowing the Transfer portal to be turned into a free for all Free Agency smash and grab for the top programs was obviously going to be a massive failure and further reinforce the entitlement of these athletes. Lmfao but I know somebody who once ran this publication being the biggest champion of all time of this move. Typical Clay all about the most “capitalist” stance in college sports regardless of how it is carried out or how obviously flawed it is. The same with his mentality of “Oh cmon just pay these guys!” with no actual thought out plan of how that could be carried out in a responsible fashion so these dudes don’t get completely shafted by relatives etc. before they even sniff the league.

  6. Not to find fault with Mr Guilbeau’s offering here, but A&M fans were less than cordial to Calzada after more than one game during the season. He was booed mercilessly at Kyle Field. I wouldn’t call that the kind of treatment to a KID, not even legal to drink distilled spirits, that people expected to stay around.

    Otherwise, the free agency in college sports now makes everyone’s job tougher. Athletic Directors, coaches and everyone else associated with a university don’t really have a say. It’s harder for alumni and fans to remain connected to a university when student athletes come and go like the UPS drivers on your route.

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