An increasing number of players are taking advantage of their opportunity to explore their transfer options this offseason, and it has become a growing concern for the sport as a whole. Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, who has seen players come and leave via the transfer process during his time in Ann Arbor, remains one of the voices of college football who feels the transfer process does need to be reviewed.
“It needs to be decided, too, amongst everybody across the college football landscape how it’s going to be treated,” Harbaugh said in his podcast recently, as quoted by USA Today. “It was a case where, if you decided to transfer, you had to sit out a year from playing a sport – you’re ineligible. Or is that that anybody has a one-time transfer that they can make? A one-time transfer rule. Right now, I don’t know where we’re at. Somewhere in the abyss?”
The NCAA has adjusted the transfer process to make the system more accommodating for players. The introduction of the transfer portal allows a player to enter their name in a list to become eligible to have contact with other schools without withdrawing entirely from their current program. The NCAA has also relaxed the strictness of the one-year waiting period when it comes to waivers. The rule still stands that a player must sit out a year before being eligible to play at their new school (if transferring from an FBS program to another FBS program), but waivers continue to be approved at a higher number this offseason to allow a player to be eligible immediately.
Harbaugh recently saw the transfer process leave one of his players in jeopardy last offseason when Ole Miss quarterback Shea Patterson transferred to the Wolverines. Although that was more of a sticky situation given the Ole Miss sanctions looming over the program and former head coach Hugh Freeze. Just this offseason, Ohio State welcomed quarterback Justin Fields from Georgia, and Fields has been granted immediate eligibility for the 2019 season.
“It is different,” Harbaugh said. “It is different that more guys are transferring. We’ve experienced it this year. Talking to guys, as a parent, there’s not even a good reason. Were you shaving this morning and you woke up and decided I want to transfer?”
The NCAA will be reviewing the waiver transfer process amid growing concerns around the sport. And if Harbaugh is asked to share his thoughts, he has a few ideas ready to throw out there.