CAA Football coaches concerned by rise in transfers
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By CRAIG HALEY
(Stats Perform) - James Madison has lost a pair of All-CAA football players, if not All-Americans, to the NCAA transfer portal in the last year.
Maine and Towson saw perhaps their best player depart in the same way.
Villanova? Oh, a couple All-Americans transferred last summer with two more all-conference players exploring options in the portal right now.
These are transfer examples just within CAA Football, but really it's coaches everywhere - especially in the FCS - who seem to be lamenting the transfer portal is spinning out of control.
Before speaking about the upcoming CAA spring season during the conference's virtual media day Wednesday morning, Delaware coach Danny Rocco said he looked at the website that houses information on potential transfers and found 1,827 Division I players. Considering there are a combined 257 FBS and FCS programs, that's an average of seven players per program - some, of course, with an even higher number.
"I think the perception is that (the transfer portal is) really good for the student-athlete, but I don't really believe at the end of the day that this is going to be student-athlete-friendly," Rocco said. "I think it's going to create conflict for a lot of our student-athletes, and it's certainly going to create conflict for a lot of the programs."
The frequency in players submitting their name to the portal in the last year appears to be increased by the COVID-19 pandemic causing a lack of happiness and normalcy. The question being asked is, how much will it all decrease when the world is more stable? Or is this form of free agency here to stay in an alarming way?
Rocco alluded to more players listing themselves in the portal than there are available opportunities. It creates a trickle-down effect on depth charts, scholarships and recruiting - all with increased uncertainty.
Said James Madison coach Curt Cignetti, whose program is the defending CAA champ: "We spend a lot of time recruiting these student-athletes, they spend a lot of time choosing the right school. I think in life there's going to be adversity and you've got to have persistence and (commitment) to be successful in life. I think the first thing that goes wrong, you shouldn't be looking for a way out.
"I see the way it's going. I don't like it, I don't think any of the coaches like it, I don't think it's good for the game."
The transfer portal, established by the NCAA in 2018, has afforded players a more organized way to seek a new school, and it basically grew out of the 2011 legislation that granted immediate eligibility to those making a graduate transfer from one program to another. Proponents of the grad transfer rule can point to how a student-athlete has held up the academic end of his undergraduate scholarship by graduating and earned the right to complete his eligibility elsewhere.
Many FCS coaches, though, maintain their programs are more at the mercy of FBS programs, which can sign away talented FCS players who had developed on the lower level.
All the transferring could increase, too. There's a proposal in Division I legislation that would allow a one-time transfer exception to all players, giving them the opportunity to move from one program to another without having to sit out competition for one school year.
The NCAA postponed a vote on the proposal during its annual convention earlier this month. Regardless of the outcome, the NCAA has granted student-athletes an extra year of eligibility due to the pandemic, essentially making this a free school year athletically. Seniors who play in the upcoming FCS spring season are eligible to play again this fall, even at different schools, if they choose.
"We'll see how it moves forward," Villanova coach Mark Ferrante said. "But, again, you've got to stay up with the times. You're going to have to adjust some of your recruiting tactics as well as you go along with what they do in the NCAA."
Added Maine coach Nick Charlton, "That's going to be something that everybody's going to battling in some way, shape or form whether you're an FBS or an FCS team as you move forward. That's just the reality of college football right now."
Updated January 28, 2021