Free Transfers Revisited

John Granato: A&M story shows serious flaws with NCAA's transfer rules

Jimbo Fisher and his A&M staff are in the news. Andy Lyons/Getty Images

A while ago I wrote an article addressing the college transfer rule. The NCAA has been avoiding it for decades. It’s time to get back on that pulpit.

USA Today’s Dan Wolken wrote an article the other day about former Aggie linebacker Santino Marchiol who transferred to Arizona. In an attempt to not have to sit out a year Marchiol came forward with accusations about Jimbo Fisher’s program. Besides being unhappy about how the training staff handled his ankle injury he threw in a couple of stories about assistant coaches watching unauthorized workouts and giving cash to host unofficial recruiting visits.

This offseason the NCAA came up with this exception to the transfer rule to placate Ole Miss players who were disenchanted with the program due to sanctions for cheating: they would be able to play immediately at their new school if they were able to document “mitigating circumstances that are outside student-athlete’s control and directly impact the health, safety and well-being of the student athlete.”

It’s a great idea. If coaches are overzealous, cheat and get caught, why are innocent players punished for it? I never understood that. Good for you NCAA. You got it right.

But…

It also opened the door for a guy like Marchiol to come out and accuse his former team of misdeeds so he can play right away.

First of all, the only thing that impacts Marchiol’s health and well-being would be how the training staff at A&M handled his ankle injury. That’s arguable and will be looked into. The other accusations are headline grabbers and quite frankly weak ones. That coaches watch workouts and throw a few hundred at players to entertain recruits, while wrong, are a pimple on the ass of improprieties.

You want improprieties? Go to Penn State, Baylor, Michigan State or Ohio State. Now those are improprieties.

A&M will have to face the music and pay for its crimes as they should and we will all move on.

But this is only the tip of the iceberg. I talked to a former NCAA official and he says there will definitely be more of this coming. Players only get five years to play four. That year they have to sit when they transfer is valuable, valuable enough to turn in a rogue coaching staff. Here’s an idea. If you don’t want players to snitch on you for cheating, don’t cheat. Novel but pretty simple.

Every coach is on notice now. There are 100 or so potential whistleblowers out there roaming the sideline. “Don’t play me? Guess what. I’m transferring and calling the NCAA.”

I’m pretty sure this won’t sit well with the coaches. But their fight is more with their basketball counterparts than the NCAA. College basketball coaches have been the most adamant about the transfer rule remaining unchanged. With only five starters the bball coaches think they would have total anarchy on their hands if they allowed free transfers.

The only sports that make it penal to transfer are football, hockey, and men’s and women’s basketball. In all other sports the athletes can transfer and play immediately.

This football offseason the NCAA did address the other limitations that were put on the players. On top of sitting out a year, coaches had the ability to block players from transferring to certain schools. They can’t anymore. Now if a player wants to transfer he gives his name to the athletic director who puts it on a website for every coach to see. It’s more or less a waiver wire and it’s a move in the right direction. But it’s not enough.

Two other transfer solutions have been looked at. One was a player with a 2.8 can transfer anywhere and play right away. The thought being that someone with better grades will have a chance to transfer and still graduate which should be priority one in every decision they make. It was nixed because they thought there would be racial overtone backlash. They’re probably right. The ACT and SAT have been catching flak lately. The NCAA didn’t want any part of that.

The other option was that everyone gets one free transfer. Would this create anarchy? Maybe. But we’re asking 18-year olds to make lifelong irrevocable decisions when they choose their college. Wouldn’t it be great to get a mulligan? Not according to coaches.

But having a bunch of potential snitches waiting to pounce as soon as they transfer may be the impetus to change. I’m sure a coach would prefer the player getting that free pass rather than getting turned in and facing minor or major infractions.

If we get a few more snitches to come forward trying to get that free year we may see an emergency NCAA caucus calling for a free transfer policy “which has long been overdue for the student-athlete because after all,” they would say, “all we care about is doing what’s best for the student-athlete.”

Yeah right.

All the NCAA has ever cared about is bringing in that basketball tournament money.

The good news is that if their unintentional attempt to do the right thing for the Ole Miss players turns into all players having the freedom to transfer then so be it.

Even if it takes a few snitches to get it done.  





 

Tim Warner/Getty Images

Texas punishes Rice with a blowout and Houston can't find its mojo. Here's a look at what happened in the Lone Star State and with LSU:

Washington State 31, Houston 24

In similar fashion to last week, Houston struck early, but failed to secure the win in the second half. Houston's wonder kid quarterback, D'Eriq King has been a shell of himself since Dana Holgorsen took over the program. "I thought our kids played hard and gave ourselves a chance," Holgerson said of his team. "Just came up a little short." King threw for 128 yards passing and 94 yards rushing and two touchdowns to put Houston up 14-7 at the half. Unfortunately, the offensive momentum from the first half did not carry into the second, which was riddled with unforced turnovers and costly errors, contributing to Houston's loss. Houston struggled to move the ball in the second half, lost two fumbles and only scored once after halftime. King seemed to have scored on a 72-yard run late in the third quarter but it was stymied by a textbook holding call on sophomore receiver Jeremy Singleton. While WSU beat Houston 31-24 on Friday night, both teams had a combined 209 yards of penalties on Friday night, something they'll need to address before conference play begins next week. Aside from the sloppy second half, possibly the most frustrating part of this loss is Holgorsen's soft reaction to it. "We don't want moral victories or any of that ... we didn't play good enough to win," Holgorsen said. "Didn't make enough plays and the ball didn't bounce our way enough for us to come out of here with a win and that needs to happen next week." Senior WSU receiver Brandon Arconado finished with 308 yards on 23 receptions and a score to help WSU to victory. Anthony Gordon led WSU's charge over Houston, finishing 36-of-48 with 440 yards and three touchdowns. Houston opens AAC play at Tulane on Thursday.

Texas A&M 62, Lamar 3

Quarterback Kellen Mond did his part to help the 16th ranked Aggies to a lopsided win 62-3 win over Lamar on Saturday, throwing for 317 yards, a touchdown, and a scoring run. Sophomore running back Isiah Spiller ran for 116 yards and two touchdowns for the Aggies, ensuring there was no drop-off after taking over for Jashaun Corbin who sustained a season-ending hamstring injury last week. A&M coach Jimbo Fisher recognizes enormous growth in Spiller, despite the new featured back only playing in three games. "There's a lot put on him and the expectations for what he's doing," said Fisher. "He's having to fill some big shoes for us and what we lost and the way things are going. He's a very smart, talented young man and he's doing a really good job. Very mature for his age." Expect A&M to hold their poll position after taking care of business against an un-ranked opponent. A&M opens SEC play against No. 8 Auburn next Saturday.

LSU 65, Northwestern State 14

At first glance it appears No. 4 LSU easily handled Northwestern State but coach Ed Orgeron was forced to leave quarterback Joe Burrow in longer than planned after a more competitive first half from NWST than expected. Burrow capitalized on the highlight reel opportunity, completing 21 of 24 passes for 373 yards and two touchdowns as LSU put away NWST 65-14 on Saturday. This is the second time Burrow has been subbed out early due to a lopsided score this season. The star quarterback is now 75-of-90 passing for 1,122 yards and 11 touchdowns in LSU's first three games. Look for LSU to remain within the top five based on the Tigers final margin of victory. LSU opens SEC play next Saturday against Vanderbilt.

Texas 48, Rice 13

Sam Ehlinger threw for 279 yards and three touchdowns, leading the 12th ranked Longhorns to an easy 48-13 rebound victory over Rice. The Longhorns started fast and clicked in every phase of the game after losing at home to LSU last week. "Any type of game where you win after a loss is huge," Ehlinger said. "For us to come out and play to our standard, continue to prove to ourselves that when we work really hard and play to our standard, it is hard for people to beat us is great." Keaontay Ingrahm rushed for 74 yards and two scored for Texas after being held to just 29 yards on 10 carries last week. Expect Texas to hold its position after a blowout win over Rice. Texas hosts Oklahoma next Saturday to open Big 12 play.

TCU 34, Purdue 13

The Horned Frogs boasted an unstoppable running game, racking up 346 rushing yards on 58 carries as TCU beat Purdue 34-13 on Saturday night. Darius Anderson was in peak form, rushing for 179 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. "Darius is running better now than I've seen him since he was a sophomore," TCU coach Gary Patterson of the senior running back. TCU had 160 yards rushing on 28 attempts in the first half while Purdue was held to minus-1 on 12 attempts. The Horned Frogs host SMU on Saturday.

Arizona 28, Texas Tech 14

Arizona ran the ball right down the Red Raider's throat 13 straight times during a 99-yard drive in the fourth quarter that ended with Gary Brightwell barreling into the end zone for his second touchdown, sealing the Wildcat's 28-14 win over Texas Tech Saturday night. Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate threw for 185 yards, one touchdown, and carried it in for another score. Texas Tech opens its conference play at Oklahoma on 9/28.

Sam Houston 47, Texas State 17

The Mustangs bolted out of the gate against and never let up in SMU's 47-17 victory over Texas State on Saturday. Mustang quarterback Shane Buechele was 14-of-18 passing with two touchdowns on 219 yards. Texas State hosts Georgia State next Saturday night.

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