Sports Take: Transfer portal is huge for college football, balances playing field

Transfer portal changes college football for the better. Photo courtesy of Baylor University.

By Pierson Luscy | LTVN Reporter/Anchor

College football athletes have been able to move from team to team with virtually no trouble since the NCAA eased up on the transfer portal rules. While it has been a constant source of scrutiny for fans and analysts alike, the transfer portal is the best thing to happen to college football since the forward pass.

Every year it feels like we see the same thing in college football. The University of Alabama is ranked at the top, with Clemson University, Ohio State University and the University of Oklahoma rounding out the top four. The numbers have shown that as well.

Since the college football playoff era started in 2014, there have been 32 total spots available in the playoff over the course of eight years. Twenty-one of those total spots have been taken by Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma.

2022’s AP preseason poll is no different. The Crimson Tide, Buckeyes and Tigers are all ranked in the top five going into the new season. The only way for there to be a more interesting season down the stretch is if new faces are competing for a championship trophy.

The 2017 quarterback depth chart for Ohio State consisted of J.T. Barrett, Dwayne Haskins and Joe Burrow. Haskins was named the starter for the 2018 season after Barrett’s departure for the NFL. Burrow knew that the only way he was going to see the field was somewhere else.

Burrow pivoted to Louisiana State University and the rest was history. After just two seasons, Burrow led LSU to a 15-0 national championship season. That performance by the team and Burrow is often argued as the greatest single season in the history of the sport.

None of this would have happened if Burrow did not utilize the transfer portal to leave OSU.

In October of 2018, the NCAA evolved the transfer portal rule, making it where athletes didn’t have to be graduate students in order to not lose a year of eligibility. This rule has opened up the door for dozens of undergraduate athletes to transfer and immediately make an impact on their new team. In some cases, these players are leaving schools like the big four mentioned.

Instead of succeeding at schools with an already established reputation, they can potentially flourish in places that have not received recent recognition.

In 2022, top quarterbacks Caleb Williams and Quinn Ewers transferred from Oklahoma to the University of Southern California and Ohio State to the University of Texas, respectively. Instead of sitting and waiting for their schools to let them play when they are upperclassman, they can go elsewhere and compete to make the college football landscape even more competitive.

Big-name schools are not the only places transfers want to go. Last year, junior defensive lineman Siaki Ika made a significant impact for Baylor’s defense. Ika and other members of the team are now lined up for a great season and can continue to make some serious noise.

Some people might view the transfer portal as a cop-out for players that do not get their way. Although that may be the case in some instances, the silver lining is that college football now has a higher potential to have unique names in the race down the stretch.

As controversial as it may be, it’s time to realize the benefit of the transfer portal to college football.