The transfer portal has completely reshaped the entire college landscape.
BYU Sports has a rich tradition of building up talent. Steve Young, Jimmer Fredette, Tyler Allgeier, Harvey Unga, Robbie Bosco, and Brandon Davies are all players who started their careers at BYU essentially on the bench. Through hard work and dedication these players all ended up getting more playing time and becoming BYU stars.
But what would have happened had the transfer portal been around? Would Robbie Bosco really have sat for two full seasons behind Steve Young waiting for his chance to play? Perhaps Jimmermania would have never happened because instead of taking a chance on the kid from Glen Falls, Coach Rose would have gotten a transfer who could make an impact immediately.
Yes, it is very possible that if the transfer portal was a thing all this time, BYU Football may never have won a national championship in football and Jimmermania may have never happened.
That is scary to think about.
Granted, we can take this same argument and say “What if BYU wins a national championship in 2025 because of transfers?”. Sure it is a possibility, but until that happens, it isn’t the strongest argument. Yes, we can look at individual players who have come in and helped, but for the most part, those were players who had to sit out a year and were the exception to the rule or were players who never actually suited up for the team they came from (Taysom Hill, Max Hall).
The transfer portal isn’t this terrible thing, but it is changing college sports completely. There is a very real chance that BYU Basketball has five players transfer out this season and I’m not sure anyone will be shocked by that. This can make it tough on coaches and players to having to completely adjust to a new team every single season.
However, the biggest concern that isn’t being talked about is the buy-in from fans. Now before you go after me saying “it isn’t about fans!”, let me remind you that if the fans don’t watch the team will eventually fall.
If you are reading this, you’re probably a die-hard true blue Cougar fan who will watch no matter what. But there is a very significant portion of the fanbase that loves the players on the team more than the team itself. In my own family, I have three casual BYU fans who get invested into players and that drives their fandom, but struggle to connect every season when the roster is completely different.
I’m not exaggerating at all when I tell you that this year I found myself on the couch alone many times watching BYU basketball when in the past I’ve had four other family members sitting with me to watch. They told me that they don’t know the team and that since many of them would be gone the next year they didn’t have the same desire to buy-in.
Let’s take Zac Dawe as an example. Dawe played on the defensive line for BYU and had to work to get playing time. For years he would appear in moments during a game, but for the most part he was unknown to the common fan. For whatever reason my old roommate loved to watch him play. As he got more and more playing time my roommates commitment to watching games went from casual at best, to cancelling all of his Saturday plans to watch the games.
In today’s game with the transfer portal, I’m not sure Dawe ever sees the field before transferring/always being bumped down the depth chart due to transfers.
Again, as a reader this probably isn’t you. But think about your circle of friends and you will realize that you probably know quite a few fans who buy into players more than the team.
I do want to clarify that I know that players should be able to follow their dreams. I also believe that there need to be limits on transferring. If I were to make the rules this is what I would do.
- If a head coach leaves you get a free transfer, regardless of year or if you have transferred in the past.
- Every player gets one transfer following their freshman or sophomore year.
- If a player transfers, they must surrender 10% of their NIL money to the school’s scholarship fund.
Doing this would fix quite a few problems. First off, I do believe that if a coach leaves a program, a player should not be stuck and forced to stay.
As far as the second rule goes, if it takes more than two years to figure out that your trajectory isn’t where you want it to be going, that is on the player and the team/school shouldn’t suffer for that.
For the final point, this would keep players from just following the money and would at least keep players from wanting to transfer just for a bit more money. I believe the number is small enough to where if a player really does want a transfer they will still do it, while also protecting a few schools with huge donors from monopolizing the sport.
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I want it to be very clear, I support players chasing their dreams and know for a fact that many athletes at 16, 17 and 18 are not mature or even experienced enough to make a decision that will set themselves up for their future. For that reason, I think that the transfer portal can be a very good thing and helpful to all schools.
Like everything else in life however, there needs to be boundaries and rules. I’m not saying that my idea is the correct way to go, in fact I’m sure there are dozens of better proposals out there. But if we are going to to protect the integrity of the sport, and keep it separated from being a lower division of the NBA/NFL/WNBA etc…, then there needs to be differences and the way that things are trending, in only a few years they will essentially be the same.