Opinion: The college football transfer portal is changing athletics for the worse

Andrew Van Buren (21), Boise State football
Photo by Claire Keener

In the past, the main focus of college sports during the months of January and February has been college basketball. As teams fight for wins and higher rankings, they draw the attention of the country to the court. However, in 2022, the focus of college sports seems to still be focused on the football field, or more specifically, what happens off the field.

The College Football transfer portal has been the busiest it has ever been this offseason, with more than 3,000 players entering the portal since November. Players from every school, state and division have decided that they are unhappy with where they originally decided to go to school, and are willing to throw their hat in the ring somewhere else. 

Boise State is no stranger to the transfer portal. Just this last season, backup quarterback Jack Sears, who originally transferred to Boise State from the University of Southern California (USC), has entered the transfer portal, once again looking for what he wants somewhere else.  Running back Andrew Van Buren, who recorded over 1,000 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns during his time at Boise State, has also decided to take his talents elsewhere. 

But Boise State is not just losing players. In this past offseason, Boise State roped in quarterback Sam Vidlak, a redshirt freshman from Oregon State. Boise State also brought in offensive lineman Cade Beresford and linebacker Jack Beresford from Washington State. This is a sort of homecoming for the Beresford family, as their father was an offensive lineman at Boise State in the 1990s.

Now, there is nothing wrong with wanting to show your talents and be on the field, but what I have a problem with is the lack of loyalty to your program and lack of having enough heart to fight for your position.

A few years ago, college football used to be all about fighting for the guy next to you and bringing glory to your college or university,  but with the new Name, Image and Likeliness (NIL) policy, the college gridiron has moved away from those morals.

I am all for college athletes getting paid. The amount of time and effort that goes into playing a collegiate sport has been undervalued for years. But, there does need to be some rules and regulations to this new deal, just so things remain fair.

There are obviously schools that have more money than others. Schools like USC, Miami University and the University of Texas have more money than most schools could ever imagine. However, this isn’t just because of their prestigious football programs. It is also due to people around these schools who have lots of money.

The new NIL program allows athletes to become sponsored by companies, organizations and even chain fast food restaurants. If you think about USC, they are surrounded by money, and those who have the money want to see their local powerhouse college succeed to its fullest potential. 

Andrew Van Buren (10), Boise State football
[Photo of Andrew Van Buren (21) in a Boise State football game against Wyoming]
Photo by Claire Keener | The Arbiter

So, why wouldn’t a great football player go somewhere where they would be paid handsomely and still compete at the highest level? Well, there really is no reason, and that is the problem.

Even if there was no NIL deal for college athletes, the transfer portal is still affecting another major aspect of the sport: recruiting.

In this past offseason, coaches and programs have made it clear that they are actively looking for new players in the transfer portal and not just high schools. This means that even fewer young players looking for a shot to get on the field will see that opportunity because a program would rather take someone with experience at the collegiate level than an incoming freshman who still has a lot to learn.

So, there is a lot of bad about the transfer portal and the current world of college football, but the transfer portal has definitely been an important factor in many teams’ successes in recent years. 

Joe Burrow, the quarterback for the Bengals, finished his college career with a Heisman Trophy and national championship at Louisiana State University (LSU). However, Burrow actually started his career at the Ohio State University, where he rode the bench for three years before finally deciding to transfer to LSU.

Without the transfer portal, Burrow may have never gotten his shot to have one of the best seasons of all-time in college football or become the number one pick in the 2020 NFL draft.

Burrow is not the only one who has found success and thrived after transferring from their original school, and from the looks of it, he most certainly will not be the last.

To me, the rise of the transfer portal is a sign that the times are changing not just for football, but for all collegiate sports. Players going into the portal and coaches recruiting from the portal will become the new normal, and people are going to have to accept that.

Is there still some work that needs to be done to the rules of the portal and the new NIL deal?  Of course, but those things will come in time, just as they have before.

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