Dan Mullen says college football is in for a 'wild ride' as transfer portal brings changes to sport
In the fall of 2018, the transfer portal was introduced to college football. The 2018 season was also when the NCAA altered the redshirt rule to allow players to participate in up to four games during the college football season and use a redshirt for the season.
When players started leaving their teams midseason to redshirt and enter the transfer portal, many coaches and analysts likened the process to free agency. The transfer portal has gained popularity since its introduction and the NCAA notably granted eligibility waivers to many transfer players, allowing them to avoid sitting out a year (a blanket waiver was installed due to COVID-19).
Florida coach Dan Mullen thinks college football is still in for a “wild ride” over the next couple of years as the transfer portal continues to bring changes to the sport.
“The transfer portal is set up for the people that it really benefits,” Mullen said during an appearance on ESPN Radio this week. “A guy that’s been in the program for a couple years. ‘Hey I’m going into my senior year my last year. I’m going to be a backup. I’d love the opportunity to go somewhere and start. Go somewhere and play.’ That’s what it’s designed for. I think it’s going to turn into this kind of, ‘Hey, I’m a redshirt freshman. I’m not playing. I don’t want to keep working and wait another year or two, you know, like I don’t want the Kyle Trask story where I’m going to be a huge success. I just need to move and try something else.’
“And I’m nervous about that of the development of college players, and I say this to everybody. This would be a really interesting thing. I can tell you this, I think three to four to five years from now, college football will be very, very different than it is today. I don’t know if it’ll be better or it’ll be worse. And I don’t know how it’s going to be different, but I would feel extremely confident saying it will be very different than it is today. And it’s going to be a wild ride over the next couple of years as we all try to figure this out.”
Mullen has made his share of big additions from the transfer portal. Former 5-star recruits Brenton Cox, Justin Shorter, Lorenzo Lingard and Demarkcus Bowman landed with the Gators after entering the transfer portal. Mullen has also used the portal to address depth issues with lower profile additions like Jonathan Greenard, Stewart Reese, Jordan Pouncey, Jace Christmann, Daquan Newkirk and Antonio Shelton.
Mullen expects coaches to start being more selective when it comes to signing players out of high school to keep roster spots open for the portal.
“I think it’ll change a lot of how recruiting works,” Mullen said. “Because instead of signing all the high school guys now, coaches are going to sit there and kind of hold some spots for transfers instead of high school guys. And you only have so many guys that you can sign in each class, and you’re going to sit hold some of those. You have name, image and likeness coming on board.
“And I think that’s going to have a very different approach into not what it is meant for the marketing of these high-end athletes. I do think it’ll trickle into recruiting a lot and I think that’ll change some things. I think all of those aspects of how the game is seen, perceived and functions on a daily basis will change because of those factors.”