Justin Fields, Others Should Be Able to Start at Ole Miss and the SEC in 2020 — There’s Precedent
Pending an imminent official announcement by the Big Ten, the conference is expected to cancel the fall football season. The Pac 12 is expected to follow suit.
Players have been pulled from practices at Michigan State and told the Big Ten is cancelling the fall season, two sources have confirmed to The Detroit Free Press’ Chris Solari. SI’s Ross Dellenger and Pat Forde have confirmed the Big Ten cancellations. It’s happening.
This all prompts obvious questions: if other conferences move forward with plans to play in the fall, what will Big Ten players do? They might not have to wait for a spring season.
Athletes in the Big Ten and Pac 12, as well as all other leagues that have cancelled their fall seasons, should (and may) be allowed to transfer to other conferences, say the SEC or ACC, that choose to play in the fall. The NCAA has already set a bit of precedent for such a decision.
Much earlier this year, in the spring, the U Sports league in Canada cancelled their fall football season. Since that decision, Ole Miss has added two collegiate football players from Canada’s U Sports league, defensive lineman Tavius Robinson and cornerback Deane Leonard. They both are immediately eligible, pending paperwork, due to the U Sports league cancellation.
So what’s the difference?
If the NCAA is granting eligibility to those transferring because of a cancelled season in one league, why should those transferring from other leagues be treated differently?
If Justin Fields, star Ohio State quarterback and likely top five pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, wants to play at Ole Miss or Florida State or Missouri or any school that’s playing a fall football season, he should be able to with immediate eligibility. The same should hold true for Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons, another projected top ten pick, or really anyone else that wants to make the move.
Honestly, not allowing such transitions, after already doing so, would be hypocritical. Then again, when has the NCAA really cared about hypocrisy?
There seems to be little explanation ever given for why some players can transfer with immediate eligibility and others can’t. Prior stipulations that may have been followed a decade ago simply aren’t anymore. That’s not even mentioning the hypocrisy of a billion dollar industry that pays its employees in tuition and fees.
Do I expect this to happen? No. First of all, Justin Fields would have to want to leave Ohio State. Secondly, he’d have to be granted immediate eligibility. Thirdly, this requires other conferences, such as the SEC, to play fall football.
The concept of free agency of transfers already scares coaches. This would take it to a different degree. But if it were allowed, some players somewhere would take advantage.