Transferpalooza ‘22: How the transfer portal has changed college football

Published: Dec. 6, 2022 at 10:35 PM EST
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - The college football calendar officially has a new season in the rise of the transfer portal and things kicked off this week with a bang.

As of Tuesday, December 6, more than 1,000 football players have entered the portal. As the rules and regulations of transferring have morphed over the last few years, it’s created a wild dynamic with far reaching implications on the college football landscape.

The transfer portal launched in the Fall of 2018 as a database for players to announce their intent to leave their current team and reopen their recruitment process. It is against NCAA rules for a school to recruit a player currently at another program, and the portal allowed for that process to officially begin.

Transferring came with consequences though and you had to sit out a year at your new school. The only exception was if you moved down a division, for instance transferring from an FBS program to an FCS program.

In April of 2021, the NCAA eliminated the rule about sitting out a year. Now, they have granted athletes a one-time waiver to transfer without penalty and with immediate eligibility. It has had major effects on the number of athletes that transfer.

1,695 FBS players entered the portal in the 2019-20 cycle but after the eligibility rules changed in 2021, that number increased to 3,085 for the 2021-22 cycle. The impact was seen on the field right away.

According to SportSource Analytics, a college football data and analytics platform, the number of FBS starters that were transfers double from 2020 to 2021. Going from 10.7-percent in 2020 to 20.9-percent of starters being transfers in 2021.

With this rule change, everything has changed. The way coaches manage their rosters and their scholarships and how they manage the people they recruit has all been affected.

Player’s situations have changed from the ease at which they can leave a program for any list of reasons. Ranging from wanting to up their NFL draft stock with a move to a more high-profile program, to being unhappy with playing time or their spot on the depth chart.

Recent NIL decisions and the unknown regulations of those deals is adding a fresh new wrinkle to an already unstable transfer portal landscape. While the NCAA and conference officials have said NIL deals are not supposed to play a role in transfers, the lack of regulations on those deals has left many to speculate.