Changing the Transfer Rules Will Dramatically Change College Sports, and also Help Alabama

All Things CW looks at the changing landscape of college athletics, what the next hot issue will be for the fall and how Alvin Kamara has grown up since leaving Alabama
Author:
Publish date:

It's going to be a game-changer.

Actually, that's not quote accurate enough. It's going to chance college athletics as we know then  

When it comes to the the Division-I Council's approval of a one-time transfer for all college athletes without the need to sit out, collegiate sports are about to dramatically change. 

It'll change them more than all of the other proposed changes combined. 

"Without a doubt," former NFL and college head coach Jim Mora Jr. said. "You used to be able to lock these kids into their scholarship and have some certainly that they were going to be with you because there was a real deterrent to transferring."

We don't even need to wait for its implementation to know some of the ramifications. There are already thousands of athletes with their names in the transfer portal, especially in football and basketball, and we're already seen transfers play huge roles in winning championships and major awards. 

For example, the three Heisman Trophy winners prior to DeVonta Smith (Joe Burrow, Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield) all began their careers at different schools. 

Meanwhile, the two teams that just played for the national championship in basketball, Baylor and Gonzaga, had key players who had transferred. 

“It’s going to change the landscape of college football,” Jacksonville State coach John Grass told Ross Dellenger of SI.com (who noted that there are already about 1,200 names in basketball, about one-fourth of the the available Division I scholarship spots, in the transfer portal). 

"We have thought about a strategy that we're going to use," Nick Saban said this week, which was basically a "the gloves are coming off" warning to the rest of college football.  

For Alabama, it means two things that you'll probably notice immediately. 

1) The Crimson Tide will start actively scouting the rest of college football.

Let me provide a visual as to what I mean. Years ago, when each NFL team had a salary-cap specialist, many also had a room set up that listed every player of every team on the walls. Each had both a talent grade, and a salary-cap figure assigned to him. 

Every day the league sent out a report on official transactions, including the way teams might change the status of a player in a way that could make them suddenly a free agent. Sometimes a split-second decision, like on a waiver claim, would be necessary, and that room was often how they would be made. 

Alabama already has a recruiting room, with grades and evaluations of all prospects the Crimson Tide is considering offering a scholarship. If it doesn't have something in place for the rest of college football yet, it soon will.

2) Teams will leave roster and recruiting spots open.

The maximums are 85 for the full roster in football, and 25 prospects per recruiting class. A lot of coaches will stop signing the maximum amount. 

“I think you would have to,” said Mora, who is in favor of the rule changes. “I think you have to prepare for the possibility that that there’s someone out there who wants to enter your program who’s going to help you be successful.

“On the flip side, you need to know your players very, very well, and get in their minds and what they’re thinking, because you’re potentially going to lose some good players if you’re not doing things the right way. I think it just complicates things for the coach.”

Saban already excels at getting the most of the numbers, as he's been able to successfully anticipate departing players over the years to keep the roster total as close to 85 as possible. But it's also why he doesn't disclose scholarship information because it would limit any maneuverability. 

If anything, the one-time open transfer change will only help the big-name programs like Alabama because when they have a need there's nothing holding back top-end players at others schools from simply switching and potentially playing immediately.

Remember this quote from Mora, who was talking about how important reputation has become in the NFL, where there's even more pressure to win now.

"I talk to personnel guys around the league and they’re ‘You know what, we need more Alabama players. We need more Ohio State players. There are certain schools that they show up as adults.'

"It’s big. It carries a lot of weight in the draft room."

The Next Hot Issue: Vaccines

Alabama will have no more than 50 percent capacity at Bryant-Denny Stadium for A-Day on Saturday, but the push is already on for ways to figure out how to have full capacity in the fall across the board. 

Look for vaccines to become the hot issue. 

For example, Erie County in New York recently announced that it's discussing a plan to allow full attendance at both Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres games at Highmark Stadium and the KeyBank Center beginning this fall.

However, under the county's plan, all fans and staff would be required to be fully vaccinated for Covid-19.

On Tuesday, the NFL sent a memo to all 32 teams effectively mandating that support personnel including coaches and trainers be vaccinated, with the only exceptions being for staff who have a “bona fide medical or religious ground” for not doing so.

According to the statement, those not vaccinated will not be allowed to work in proximity to players.

So far, the players are being strongly encouraged, but not yet required, to get a vaccine.

There will be arguments, probably some protests, and certainly lawsuits about who can be required to be vaccinated. It's one thing for a privately-run industry to do so, compared to a public university. 

Getting fans back in the stands, though, will also be one of the biggest steps in the country getting back to a sense of normalcy. 

The bottom line is this: If you want to ensure that you can have the opportunity to go to a game in any major sport next season, get a vaccine.

Remember this guy?

If you're an Alabama fan and have been looking for a reason to start rooting for Alvin Kamara after he left the Crimson Tide and ended up playing playing for rival Tennessee, the running back may have given it last week.  

While making a an appearance on “Club Shay Shay,” a podcast hosted by Shannon Sharpe, Kamara talked about his time at Alabama and said "I take full responsibility" for things not working out. 

“It was immaturity," he said. "It wasn’t nothing about coach (Nick) Saban not liking me, (running-backs) coach (Burton) Burns not liking me. It was completely my fault.”

Kamara was considered a top 50 player in the nation for the signing Class of 2013, out of Norcross, Ga., and said he chose Alabama for the right reasons. He liked the coaching staff and wanted to be the best running back. 

But once he arrived in Tuscaloosa and sized up his competition with the Crimson Tide, Kamara knew he wasn't going to be playing for a while. 

“At the time, I’m 17 years old," he continued. "I’m coming off the state championship. I’m balling. I’m like, ‘Man, I’m about to go and bust this open,’ not thinking there’s seven of us in this room, it’s one football, it’s 10 games. What we going to do, you know?

“So we get there, and it’s me, Tyren Jones, Altee Tenpenny – rest in peace to him, that’s my brother – and Derrick Henry, all in the same class, not to mention T.J. Yeldon, Kenyan Drake, Jalston Fowler and Dee Hart already there. So we get in the room for the first running backs meeting and Coach Burton Burns, I love him to death even though he was on my ass every day at Bama, we looking around and me and Altee like, ‘Man we're stupid as hell. What are we doing?’"

But Kamara found himself asking the same question after leaving Alabama and getting arrested back home for traffic violations and driving on a suspended license. If that wasn't enough of a wake-up call, Kamara said he called Clemson the next day and it was no longer interested. 

Kamara instead played a season at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas before before landing with the Volunteers. 

“I learned a lot from leaving Alabama,” Kamara said. “I’m not even talking about football-wise. I learned a lot about myself, and I learned a lot about how to interact with other people, and I learned a lot about how to deal with certain situations. I just learned a lot about life. When I left Alabama, I went home. I mean, nobody really knows: I was about to be done with football.”

Draft Talk ... 

Did you Notice?

If you haven't seen Albert Breer's take on Landon Dickerson, we strongly suggest checking out the SI.com article. "I found the guy who’s basically written the playbook on how to handle something that we all hope never happens again."

The Unrivaled Arrival of Trevor Lawrence

The Faults in Our Tiny, Little Sports Stars

This Year's College Basketball Coaching Cycle Hires Reflect Sorely Needed Change

Leaving the House of Boise: How and Why Bryan Harsin Is Auburn's Coach