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Now it’s too easy to transfer in football

March 3, 2019 GMT

For some inexplicable reason, NCAA football insists on operating on the edge.

Middle ground?

Forget it.

Happy medium?

No such thing.

Compromise?

Not a chance.

College football is feast or famine. It’s always too far to the left or too far to the right. It’s always too strict on rules or too lenient.

This new “transfer portal” is a perfect case in point.

For years and years, it was very difficult for players to transfer from one college to another. Besides having to sit out an entire year, the head coach at the school the athlete was leaving possessed ultimate power over the transfer. He could decide which school and which different level of competition the athlete would call his new home.

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It was totally one-sided.

Then came graduate transfers, which considerably softened the rule.

And now? The transfer portal has taken this to the completely opposite extreme.

Coaches have no say on where or when a player can transfer now. I have no problem with that. Players were treated like indentured servants for far too long.

But now the rules have made it much, much too easy to transfer. As a result, there are nearly a thousand college football players who have entered their names into the transfer portal.

How absurd.

So, what are college coaches supposed to do? Like it or not, they would be foolish not to take advantage of this new situation.

“It’s upon us,” said veteran Marshall University head football coach Doc Holliday. “As coaches, we’re going to do everything we can to take advantage of it. If there are guys on there, we’re going to monitor it and know who they are. If we know somebody or we think we can find somebody that can help us, then we’re going to try to take advantage of it the best we can.

“You just monitor it. If there’s a guy out there you know it. And you know what? You don’t have to jump through hoops to try to get permission and all that. If they are in the portal, you can pick up the phone and make contact with them. It has eliminated a lot of steps.”

And yet this entire transfer portal concept still weighs on Holliday’s conscience as a coach.

“I don’t know. I worry a little bit about it,” he said. “To be honest with you, as a coach I worry about it. You’ve got kids ... there are 800, 900 kids in that portal.

“I mean, c’mon. What message are we sending out there? Get a guy that’s in the portal.

Why? ‘Well, I didn’t want to compete for the job in the spring.’ The biggest thing that football and athletics, in general, is teaching to overcome adversity and fighting for what you get and all that kind of thing.”

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This is the polar opposite.

It’s a my-way-or-the-highway philosophy.

“For guys just to be able to pick up and leave at the drop of a hat,” Holliday continued, “because they don’t like a coach or a decision that was made, I’m not sure that we’re sending the right message. It’s like anything else: You’ve got to be careful what you ask for sometimes.”

Holliday is absolutely correct.

The college football pendulum has swung from far too hard to transfer to far too easy.

Neither is the answer.

But, once again, NCAA football has chosen to tread on no middle ground.

Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at clandon@herald-dispatch.com.