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The Chronicle

The Chronicle

The Chronicle

Transfer portal transforms college football

In early January, University of Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban, who is widely known as the greatest, announced his retirement from coaching altogether. While this took the fans by complete shock, players at Alabama were taken even more aback. So much so that 10 players from the Crimson Tide elected to enter the Transfer Portal and chose to play for a different school next season.

The process around transferring was difficult in previous years, as student-athletes who wanted to switch schools had to submit a formal request to their coaches, and it could be denied. In addition, players who were successful in taking their talents to a new university would be forced to sit out for a year before they were eligible to play again.

Three of the top four recruits in this years transfer portal came from the University of Alabama, days after Head Coach Nick Saban Retired. (Courtesy of 24/7Sports)

 In October 2018, the transferring process would change entirely, as the NCAA introduced an innovative way to make it easier for both the player and staff, dubbed the Transfer Portal. This allows players to simply speak to their university’s compliance administrator, and within 48 hours, their names would be entered into a database that other administrative officers of the NCAA would have access to. Subsequently, the athletes would be made available for other schools to talk to and be recruited.

In April 2021, new legislation was adopted that allowed student-athletes to be immediately eligible for play after their first transfer with no penalty. This was when thousands of athletes from all sports and divisions were enticed by the portal, seeking extra scholarships or more playing time. It seemed like a fresh start was available for all. 

I spoke with First Team AAC and Freshman All-American Linebacker Chandler Martin about his experience entering the transfer portal, and his thoughts on how it affects the game today.

Martin played his first college football season with East Tennessee State University, an FCS Division 1 school. He finished his first eligible season, setting school records while registering an impressive statline of 99 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and 10 tackles for loss. On November 22, 2022, Chandler entered his name in the transfer portal.

“My dream was always to play FBS football. On the big stage. I feel like I could’ve stayed comfortable at ETSU, had another season, and been content with myself. But I wanted to go somewhere that could continue to push me as a player and a person.”

Chandler officially announcing his decision to enter the transfer portal / @_ChandlerMartin (X)

When an NCAA football player submits their name into the portal, they are given a 45-day window to speak with teams, visit, and commit. Chandler goes on record to say he received 28 offers within his two and a half weeks of entering the portal and compared it to the high school recruiting process as “similar, but different.”

“I made the mistake in high school of waiting too long. I had offers from Bowling Green and South Alabama, waitin’ for a bigger school, and then it was, “We don’t got a spot for you.” I told myself I wasn’t gonna make that mistake again.”

Chandler committed to the University of Memphis on his birthday, December 11th. He finished his sophomore season with another impressive statline of 94 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 interceptions, one of those being returned 60 yards for a touchdown.

“I definitely feel like I made the right choice. They got some of the best facilities in the area, and the coaches really made an effort to get to know me. I wanted to go somewhere where I was a priority.”

College football has some of the fiercest rivalries in any sport or level. However, since the introduction of the Transfer Portal, players have been seen transferring from their original school to their respective rivals, switching to a less competitive conference for more money.. While there are a variety of reasons for a student-athlete to switch schools, many fans of the game believe it has become too much about money and less about integrity and culture. Not to mention, the job of a coach and building their players from the ground up has been eased since they can easily replace one player with another.

Chandler officially announces his commitment to the University of Memphis / @_ChandlerMartin (X)

“Some players who don’t have the highest integrity will leave the team that was loyal to them,” Chandler said. “It’s kind of a two-way street. The coaches can compete for the highest bidder, but the best teams are the ones who have the brotherhood. I wouldn’t say it’s ruining the game, but I do think the athletes deserve to get paid. We go through a lot.”

The transfer portal has made the process of switching s

chools much easier for athletes, but there will never be one solid opinion on the matter. Some believe it has become too much of an auction game with controversies regarding NIL (Name, Image, Likeness) contracts, or players forgetting the true meaning of loyalty. While others, such as Chandler Martin, view it as a beautiful way to enter a fresh scenario that the players themselves enjoy more and can help accelerate their play, making their dreams come true. 

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About the Contributor
Ian King
Ian King, Staff Writer