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Transfer Portal gives and takes away from everyone

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So I go on vacation to a nice warm sunny place, that happens to have terrible internet service. I can’t post, stream, anything. To top it all off when I do manage to get a bar or two I see that Kyle Vantrease and Dylan McDuffie have entered the transfer portal.

My views on transfer rules and the portal are ever-evolving. They have been shaped in large part by some other Bull Run editors (h/t Conrad) who over time convinced me that, whether or not it benefits Buffalo, it’s the right thing to do.

We’ve moved into an era when you’re not only watching for solid coaches to be poached, but your best players to try out their luck in bigger ponds as well. It was a nice and needed change for student-athletes, but it does seem to be hurting a lot of people along the way.

247 put out an article this summer that gives a much more balanced view of what the portal is doing. I’m going to quote it a lot, and relate it to what we’re seeing.

It follows Jordan Anthony, who was a top tier prep player that landed at Michigan, but his career there was not explosive and after getting enough credits for a diploma he decided to take his two remaining years of eligibility and shine somewhere else.

Instead, he spent 19 months in the portal, before Troy took him.

And Anthony was in fact, one of the lucky ones. He was wise enough to wait until he had a diploma and the most he would have missed out on, in life, was a season or two of college football. Things don’t go so well for a lot of players

In the 2021-2022 cycle only about a quarter of P5 athletes who entered the portal stayed in the P5, and just over a half got an offer the FBS. Nearly half of them ended up in the FCS, a Junior College, or just never landed anywhere.

Overall less than a half (37%) of FBS players who entered the portal landed another spot in the FBS.

None of this is to degrade the portal, I still am sitting in a place where I think it’s an overall benefit to student-athletes.

  • Maybe you’re not the player you thought you were, and want more time at a lower level because you love the game
  • Maybe you have a legit chance to try and play in a bigger pond and would rather go down swinging than take a walk where you are.

In either case, they are young adults and it’s their decision to make. But it feels to me like a lot of these young men don’t fully understand the risk side of the risk/reward equation.

KVT is a good example. Smart kid, decent quarterback, and all-around good guy who has had a great career at Buffalo. But I very much down he’s going to land at a better school than Buffalo.

And maybe he’s ok with that. Maybe he wants to play and sees incoming QB’s as people that will put him back on the sideline after three years of starting.

Maybe he’s not a fan of the current coaching staff and, starting or not, wants to be somewhere better for him.

On balance, the portal is still a good thing for college football. But everyone is learning how it’s going to play out. Coaches are going to get more aggressive in recruiting off the portal, which will hurt prep players. It’s also going to lead, I think, to a world where once you say “I’m in the portal” you’re not going to be welcomed back to the team unless you’re absolutly essential.

Dylan McDuffie was going to be the starter at Buffalo next year. Based on his production I’d not be surprised if teams are sniffing around him right now. But every team looking at McDuffie is also looking at other RB’s in the portal and still recruiting prep players, Juco kids, and grad transfers.

Meanwhile Coach Linguist is certainly going to try to pluck some running backs from the portal now that he himself has lost two to it. So what happens in 3-4 months if McDuffie does not land the offer he wants, and Coach Mo fills his spot?

Do coaches owe a moral obligation to let players dip their toes in the portal and come back? Maybe?

It will be nice, as we get more experience in the process, for players to understand what they are signing up for.