The transfer portal really isn't all about the players, regardless of what story you think you've been told.
Coaches use it, too.
There's also a sneaky feeling the whole name, image and likeness (or NIL for short) is already starting to play a big factor with college players now having free agency.
Arkansas athletics director Hunter Yurachek had an interesting social media post about the whole NIL thing and Arkansas that raised the question:
That number in the tweet may or may not include everything an athlete has working. The guess is this whole thing is regulated about as tightly as the speed limit between Alma and Fayetteville on an average day.
Yurachek can say all he wants to about it not being a financial inducement in the recruiting and transfer process. That's the position schools have to take.
Players can communicate these days in ways no school can begin to regulate or even know about. You would be a complete idiot if you don't believe they aren't talking about the going NIL rates already.
It would be even dumber to not think it's being used as an inducement to get players in recruiting or transfers without anybody connected to the school having to admit they know it's happening.
The question hanging out there is how the Hogs rank with other teams, particularly in the SEC. Since Yurachek's tweet has the word "approaching" above the $1 million total, that means all of Hogs' athletics is roughly half what Alabama quarterback Bryce Young got in the first year of NIL.
No one is likely to address it, either, and nobody really wants to talk about it.
We probably won't know the answer to the question about other schools' NIL deals in relation to the Hogs for awhile. All of that is going to take some time to sort out.
But there is an NIL valuation tool available online now.
Shannon Terry, who's been the creative force behind several digital sports startups over the last couple of decades, now has On3.com and they have the first public online service putting a number on players' value.
These are only the valuation rankings and are not any sort of evaluation of their importance to their teams. It has nothing to do with how good they are, in other words.
The Hogs' only player in the Top 100 is Treylon Burks, who is headed to the NFL Draft. His valuation of $106,000 is 6.8% of Arch Manning, who just finished his junior year of high school football.
Arkansas' highest valued returning player is safety Jalen Catalon at $47,000, who didn't even play most of the season due to shoulder injury.
KJ Jefferson, who is likely going to be the face of the program (along with Catalon), has a valuation of $46,000.
Thus far, 16 players are gone from the Hogs via the transfer portal. How many Sam Pittman and the coaching staff really wanted to keep will never be known. He doesn't have to answer that question and probably won't.
But the guess here is they aren't worrying a whole lot about ALL of them.
That is the unspoken (and harsh) reality of the transfer portal. Coaches tell players they need to move on and probably help them find new homes elsewhere for a variety of reasons.
Or they simply don't try to talk the players out of leaving.
Arkansas had a rash of defensive players leave earlier this week and they probably just didn't reach that conclusion on the drive back from Tampa after an Outback Bowl win over Penn State.
They got a free trip to Florida so not much point in telling anyone they were planning to leave. As Hog fans learned last year, players may leave after spring practice like Mike Woods did.
In other words, it's a good bet this roster is nowhere near being settled for the 2022 season.
The biggest question now is depth at quarterback after Malik Hornsby went through his drawn-out drama of leaving Thursday night into Friday morning.
Jefferson is the clear starter. Lucas Coley is the clear No. 2 option right now by default. Kade Renfro had knee surgery during bowl practices after tearing his ACL.
Landon Rogers is also on the roster but he just spent a season working at tight end, but he did play quarterback in high school so at least he has some working knowledge of the position.
The defense has seen some starters enter the transfer portal in the past week, mostly in the secondary.
The rantings from the Hogs Lunatic Fringe fans have speculated all week it has to do with an assistant coach the players suddenly didn't like. That was weak on the surface.
The problem might be in NIL money out there for the players. Yurachek and the UA folks may not like it, but that's the wave of the future.
All he has to do is pick up the phone and call Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones down in Dallas.
When the NFL adopted free agency, Jerry got on his high horse and said San Francisco and other teams were using a "credit card mentality" approach to the upfront cash to players, particularly one Deion Sanders.
That lasted until San Francisco won the Super Bowl in 1994 with Sanders basically shutting down one side of the field.
The next season Sanders was in a Cowboys uniform with $12.99 million in the bank from Jones. Dallas was back hoisting the Super Bowl trophy at the end of the year.
In other words, all Yurachek has to do is talking one of the Hogs' big donors about how you win more games how to work the system to get the best players.
Otherwise it might be another decade before the Hogs get to a Florida bowl game.
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