Call it what you want, but gainfully employed head coach Dan Mullen transferred from Mississippi State to Florida … and brought several coaches with him.
Which is perfectly fine.
They’ll all be on the sidelines next fall, coaching the Gators’ season opener and every game after that until Florida gets tired of them, or they get tired of Florida.
Also, perfectly fine.
If one of the 90 or so Mississippi State players they left behind also wanted to transfer? They could, with two key restrictions. They likely couldn’t go anywhere they wanted and they’d have to watch the entire season, regardless.
That’s not perfectly fine, but that’s the NCAA way.
The restrictive NCAA transfer rules aren’t new, but what is relatively new is the exploding epidemic of coaches leaving one school for another, without penalty.
The Ole Miss saga might be even more egregious. The Rebels were penalized and still tried to restrict where their players could transfer. Only after protest did they relent, opening the floodgates for Shea Patterson and others to go where they want. Yet even with the school’s forced blessing, it still remains to be seen whether the NCAA will allow the rising juniors to play immediately in 2018. Without a special exemption, they can’t.
How is this even possible? Why are these archiac NCAA transfer rules still in effect? Should they be blown up, or is the NCAA correct in continuing to discourage player movement by imposing a one-year hiatus?
That’s something we’ve been discussing for a while.
Connor O’Gara, senior national columnist: I don’t think that kids like Shea Patterson or anyone in Ole Miss’ predicament should have to sit out a year should they choose to transfer. When they signed their letters of intent, they weren’t under the impression that their program would face any sort of NCAA punishment. The thought that they should have to suffer and be treated like any other transfer when they in fact didn’t do anything wrong, isn’t fair.
Why should they be forced to deal with their program’s baggage that they played absolutely no part in? Sure, I understand the whole “win as a team, lose as a team” mantra, but this isn’t about winning and losing. This is about dealing with a punishment for something they didn’t do.
Any player should be allowed to leave a situation like that and play immediately. I don’t even think you even need do support the “play for play” movement to support the notion that transfer restrictions like that are outdated and unfair.
Let the kids play. Don’t make them sit.
Adam Spencer, SEC beat reporter: Allowing players like Shea Patterson to transfer without penalty would create chaos, as Nick Saban has said before. It would make every player a free agent at the end of each season, basically.
However, coaches are allowed to do whatever they want, even if that means taking a new job after only one year at their previous job (See: Taggart, Willie). Therefore, the transfer rule is just another way players are taken advantage of when those in charge of developing them don’t face the same restrictions.
It’s certainly a complicated issue, but until there’s some sort of rule preventing coaches from ditching a program whenever a better offer comes along, it’s tough not to side with the players here. It would make coaches’ jobs a lot tougher, but maybe after a few years of that madness, they’d come up with a better plan that keeps players from transferring at-will.
Perhaps some sort of payment for college athletes would be a good fix? That, however, is a different issue entirely.
Chris Wright, executive editor: Nobody continues to sell the message of protecting the “student” while cashing in on the “athlete” quite like the NCAA.
Try reading this and not laughing. “Requiring student-athletes to sit out of competition for a year after transferring encourages them to make decisions motivated by academics as well as athletics. Most student-athletes who are not eligible to compete immediately benefit from a year to adjust to their new school and focus on their classes.”
Without trying to impugn the academic prowess of Patterson or any other potential transfer, I feel pretty safe in saying the grade that matters most to him is one provided by NFL scouts. They’ll determine his financial future much more so than the psychology professor in Peabody Hall.
That’s not a shot at professors or Ole Miss or even academia. It’s just the reality that 5-star athletes aren’t transferring because they’re unhappy with a particular class.
For the NCAA to claim that academics is the reason they want athletes to sit out is, well, let’s choose a polite word: disingenuous.
The transfer rule is so one-sided that it’s indefensible to say it’s OK that Mullen and others are free to chase their dreams (and riches) while not extending the same basic rights to players.
It’s a sham, and it’s always been a sham. It’s only worse now because at least two, three, four decades ago, coaches actually stayed long enough to see a recruiting class graduate.
The clock is ticking, fortunately.
There already are proposals to blow up the transfer rule and allow players to leave and play immediately.
Predictably, some of those same coaches who come and go as they please blistered the new proposal, rolling out their tired go-to rhetoric of how a transfer epidemic would create chaos and cripple a program.
More so than a coach who leaves two programs in one year? Please. Save the sanctimony.
The NCAA and coaches are on the wrong side of this one-sided relationship, and they know it.
There are reports that any proposal wouldn’t be adopted until 2020 or 2021. It needs to be changed now.
I just hope it doesn’t take players bonding and threatening to boycott a Playoff semifinal or NCAA Tournament game to force change and finally produce the just outcome.
But the clock is ticking on that, too.