Blame players? Or coaches?
Yes, we’ll have to wait for dust to settle to see how this Pandora’s ‘Portal’ Box shakes out. There will be success stories but also buyers remorse.
I feel badly for HS players who’s commitment gets pulled due to incoming transfer (looking at you Deion/Colorado) but probably will become common across many programs. That part I don’t like, at all.
The pressure to build super teams (and I say that as UW fan who loved the arrival of Penix) will likely also be damaging to existing collegiate student athletes who might lose coveted scholarships to new comers.
I think current NCAA rules states Teams can’t contact players who haven’t officially entered portal. But there’s no enforcement of that, especially when one sees a player enter portal on day 1 and he’s already scooped up by new program by close of same day.
I support Athletes ability to change program, portal overall is good thing. But it’s going to need more guardrails or parity is out the window. Things like:
1. Limit # of times student athlete can transfer during collegiate career
2. Place cap on # of transfers per season, per team
3. Scholarship protection for existing players on team
Without these can see even (further) divide between have’s and have not’s, conferences will continue to lose relevancy, increase in fair weather fans and of course some schools will simply stop fielding football teams
Gave up my season tickets years ago due to lots of drunk Duck fans yelling at the players and coaches. Duck fans are even drunk, embarrassing and rude on the road. Tough to acknowledge Duck fan behavior as my Duck family football history involves three generation going back to 1939-40
I have been to many Oregon State games the past 10 years. I have never witnessed any abuse of players, even in the Anderson years. OSU fans are very appreciative of their players and coaches (when the coaches try). So this issue is not every program. I can believe the Ducks have this problem because PK has led them to have high expectations at all times. That is the sin of excessive expectations
I'm a Trojan, alum and fan. Have been to most of the Pac stadiums when my alma mater is playing the home team. My experience almost everywhere is that adult fans are civil and generally respectful with infrequent exceptions. The general exception at a number of schools is students who've been overserved who just have lost civility.
My wife and I were excited to go to Autzen for the first time, and my thinking was "They are kind of like us. Good team, good fans and support, cute cheerleaders, the Duck is a fun/cool mascot....just a quality program and culture." Is what I thought.
What greeted us was a little different (this was Matt Barkley era, maybe 10 years ago or so). Just angry, entitled people who dropped the worst invective and language our way and made us feel super uncomfortable and unwelcome. Not a good experience, not going back.
I'm sure there are those who have bad experiences as visiting fans in the Coliseum as well. But seriously, the animosity we encountered was unprecedented: I've visited 20+ stadiums as a visiting fan and this was the worst by a pretty good margin. So, unfortunate, and maybe just my experience.
But it's interesting, I really wonder how many places players have had to accept the abuse that the former Duck noticed....not sure. Not sure that something like that is widespread, John. But, you are out there in the CFB world every day, and I'm not. It's a brave new world, that's for sure, and this reader hopes that some boundaries and rules are created soon that will corral the Wild West that's the transfer portal.
I agree that players should have freedom, but there also needs to be some predictability for programs. The NCAA is toothless today, so it may end up being up to the conferences to figure it out.
Last, JT Daniels sound like not the model of good behavior as a transfer candidate. But I remember when he came to SC family members were driving almost all of the nonsense. Not that that is an excuse, but there are other players in these dramas.
In any event, thank you for your ongoing excellent coverage and writing !
John, there are several threads in play here: game day experiences, student athlete “abuse,” and NIL/portal realty. As an ex UO football player I wrote you a few years back about my wife and I terminating our season tickets because of the in stadium experience. Alcohol and football don’t mix well. What we observed was extremely inappropriate Duck fan behavior. But, having a team mate get hit with a tomato by a Cougar fan on punt coverage at Pullman, it’s incredulous to think just Duck fans are boars.
Regarding student athlete abuse I played in a long ago era so strict comparisons to todays events might not be valid. And, I’m Caucasian so I can’t understand the student athlete experience the same way players of color do and wouldn’t presume to speak for them. I do believe, however, most if not all of my teammates (all races) enjoyed the privilege of playing for the Ducks, receiving a top level education, building valuable networks for career employment, and having an enhanced college experience because of our celebrity and uniqueness other students could not avail themselves of. It was a blast, without doubt the best four consecutive year experience of my life. I’m forever grateful.
As to the transfer portal and NIL stipends, I’m saddened about the loss of tradition and diminished feeling of family for my alma mater. But, that ship has sailed. Athletes are taking advantage, coaches are taking advantage (witness Cristobal and Dillingham abandoning their teams prior to the conclusion of the bowl season), heck entire schools are taking advantage (witness USC and UCLA bailing out on the rest of us in the PAC). Like I said, the feeling of family for “my team” will erode and traditional rivalries won’t have the same intensity, but I do believe the product itself (games) will continue to provide exceptional entertainment value for us. Cheers.
Brad Halverson, UO football ‘66-‘69
"In the end, he didn’t walk away from college football with an NFL career and millions of dollars in income. He was left, instead, sitting in a corner-end zone seat surrounded by intoxicated, misbehaving fans who didn’t understand his plight."
Plus a six figure education and invaluable contacts that can open doors for them for the rest of their lives. Whose fault is it really if they do not understand or capitalize on the unique opportunity their "slavery" gave them?
The idea that these top athletes are anything more than people playing in a minor league in preparation for the NFL is as absurd as the oxymoron, "student-athlete." The top 35-40 schools in the ESPN/Fox semi-pro leagues are now just like the NBA G-League, or minor league baseball, and should pay their employees a fair wage just as those other minor leagues do.
The only real solution to this is to accept that places like Alabama or USC are minor league "semi-pro" teams simply renting the name of the school, and that is just fine, once people realize what is going on. But for the schools like Cal and Stanford it is time, as some have suggested, to consider either giving up the game, or better yet, forming new leagues where the athletes are there to get an education first and foremost and playing sports is secondary.
How this would play out is wide open, but the schools that cannot compete, or do not want to try, versus the semi-pro league are going to need an alternative "plan-B." That way today's hired help that play for TV can make the money they really do deserve, and kids that want an education can have some fun playing sports and get their degree at the same time.
Players deserve what they can get. Like in every other profession, let the buyer beware.
Yes I believe the dust will eventually settle, Any program that has a 3rd string athlete that can be a starter in 50% of other schools, should move on
My dad always used to tell me, you can lie to other people (though it's not ethical) but you should never lie to yourself (because it borders on derangement). A lot of these kids are lying to themselves thinking that they have an "NFL future" and that they're just this season's version of Joe Burrow or Justin Fields. Thus you have players hopping from university to university (like JT Daniels) thinking "this is where I'll break out." There's nothing illegal, immoral, or unethical about any player doing that. It just doesn't square with reality for the vast majority of them. My recommendation to any of them would be to pick a school that suits you and get a degree that will assist you in making your life a success. If you make it to the NFL, that's just gravy.
Four four years I had a GKid at UofO & her boy friend at OSU. Each year we attended the Civil War and each year everyone had a great time. Pre game parties where our group was quite large and equally divided, and walking through campus to the games, plus stadium parking lot functions say no name calling or jerk behavior. The only problem was it always rained in Reser, and was 72 and sunny in Autzen!
Wasn't Spartacus forgetting something?
At the U. of Oregon, current In-state tuition, $14,421 USD, Out-of-state tuition $40,464 USD - plus room and board, ~$13.5K, probably a few books, ~$1150. In state, approximately $30-grand/year. These numbers are from the university, so it's an accurate estimate. I imagine it's tax free, but I don't know.
If they don't take advantage of a college education, whose fault is that?
Thank you for this helpful column!
the best part of going to games in person is I look around at lots of fans and not one of them is on twitter fretting about recruits or who's playing.. they just root for their home team. Ive embraced this and try to help my sons enjoy the moment. Not everyone gets to go to games, for fun or entertainment. Relish the time.
As a former player, I see it from the side of the isle that we as prospective players, large in part, made the choice to play for whatever team offered us or we chose. The NCAA whiffed on this: failed to look ahead on what is now manifesting in this ensuing chaos! There is NO justification nor compelling reasons why a player should be able to transfer to 4ea teams during his 4-6 yrs (Covid) of eligibility! The "inmates are running the asylum" with no consequences. There is no value placed on staying the course and working yourself into a starting role (which in most athlete's cases) doesn't occur within your first year of eligibility. Just imagine how this is going to play itself out with these athletes when entering the "real world" job market.
Simply awesome John and great reporting as always. As a college football fanatic as long as there are people like me the $$$ will flow into a broken system. I hope you are right that it settles in time. Happy Holidays!!
Good article! I’ve learned to get over blaming players, coaches or the game for transfer portal policies because I remind myself it is now just a business. The good old days of loyalty and team spirit are sadly gone.