Coaches have too much power — transfer rules need to go away

Alabama head coach Nick Saban, here watching his players warm up for a spring game, is blocking the potential transfer of a player to Georgia (Vasha Hunt/ AL.com)

Alabama coach Nick Saban, here watching his players warm up for a spring game, is blocking the potential transfer of a player to Georgia (Vasha Hunt/ AL.com)

By now, you’re probably aware of Seth Emerson’s story about Alabama coach Nick Saban blocking defensive back Maurice Smith, who is graduating, from transferring to Georgia. This isn’t dissimilar from Georgia coach Kirby Smart preventing backup running back A.J. Turman from transferring to any SEC school, Miami or Georgia Tech, although I’m sure you’ll find fans for the respective schools who will scream in social media, “THIS IS COMPLETELY DIFFERENT!”

UPDATE: Read Seth Emerson’s new story about Smith’s Alabama belongings reportedly being thrown in the trash. It’s beyond belief.

The bottom line: Saban and Smart are both being petty. Because that’s what coaches do. They have all the power and they want all the power. They give soundbites like, “I’m just protecting the (Your School Here) program,” but in truth they’re protecting themselves.

College coaches want to be allowed to recruit young men and make all sorts of promises to them but reserve the right to run those same players off when they don’t meet their level of expectation. They also will allow assistant coaches to pursue kids to sign letters of intent up to signing day, knowing those same coaches are on the verge of taking another job after signing day. Never mind that the player might have signed specifically because of that coach.

And, of course, head coaches leave for other jobs in the middle of contracts all the time. The players? They’re stuck. Because scholarships tend to be a one-way contracts: “You’re locked in — unless I decide I don’t want you, or don’t like you, or I need you scholarship for another kid I like more. You want to stay? Fine. You’re not getting off the bench and we need you to wash towels. Still want to stay?”

I understand why Saban and Smart are taking their positions. But it would be better if everybody adopted the Mark Richt “Life’s too short” policy of just letting kids leave.

Here’s what needs to happen, but probably won’t because it makes too much sense:

• The NCAA needs to have a uniform transfer policy for both undergraduate and graduate student-athletes — if not across all schools, at least across all Division I (FBS) universities or Power Five Conferences (SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12). This will come as a shock to SEC coaches, who believe the world revolves around them.

• All transfer rules should be relaxed. Really relaxed. Possibly eliminated. Sorry, NCAA: This is a business. Schools sign coaches to multi-year, eight-digit contracts. Those same coaches and athletic departments romance millionaire donors to help them build state-of-the-art athletic facilities. Academic rules are bent or broken to keep players eligible so teams can win games and generate more revenue. Way down at the bottom are the players, with few rights.

Yes, I know about the free education. It’s a great thing. But the truth is Joey Fleet Feet can get a free education at almost any major program in the U.S. He chose a certain school for a coach or any of a number of reasons. But his agreement comes with no guarantees. Why shouldn’t he have some of the same rights as a coach?

I’ve written this before but will do so again: If you believe an open transfer policy will lead to chaos, what is it we have now? Unbalanced chaos?

Saban and Smart are concerned that allowing a reserve player to leave for another SEC school could open the floodgates. I doubt that. I don’t think starting quarterbacks and running backs are suddenly going to switch schools unless their circumstances change. But if that’s the major concern, put in some safeguards like: “Players with X-number of starts or X-number of yards can’t transfer without a university’s permission.”

There are ways to fix this problem. But the current situation is unfair to players and gives coaches too much power.

Recent ramblings

Reader Comments 0

23 comments
Super Elf
Super Elf

if coaches transfer, they need to sit out one year. let the asst. coach take over during the quiet period.

TideDawg
TideDawg

Kirby Smart is not going to be Nick Saban. He doesn't want to be Nick Saban. He will take the lessons he learned under Saban, try to improve on them, and be Kirby Smart with Saban flavoring. I've been an Alabama fan for life and a Georgia fan since the Dooley era. I think Georgia fans are going to like what they got in Smart. Kirby is Georgia all the way, don't doubt that! A few years ago Kirby was considered for the DC at Georgia. He went to Saban for advice and Saban told him it wouldn't be good for him to make a lateral move. Now Smart is the Georgia head coach and he has 4 National Championships worth of experience under his belt. He's going to make it here in Georgia and I can't wait to see him go against Saban in the SEC Championship game one day. Saban will retire, but don't worry that Smart will go back to Alabama. By that time Kirby will be deep in Red and Black.

TideDawg
TideDawg

So you want to let these 18-19 year old kids do what they want to do. Yeah! That should work out nicely. What happened to your kids when they found out they could do what they wanted to do? They go away to college as a high school heros and they think "I'm Free at Last" from my parent's rules. Whoa! Then they find out that coach has more rules, and discipline than their parents and they don't like it. So let's let them move on to another University where they think it will be easier. Life gets easier....isn't that the way it works? Nada! There's nothing easy about life if you don't like rules and discipline. College football is a business....a really big business and these kids are thrown into it. When they get there they find out what life is all about because there's 42 other high school heros there that want to be college heros. Who wins out.....you see them on the field on Saturdays, in bowl games, and in championship games and then on to the pros where new lessons in life are learned. It ain't easy folks, and you want to let them make their own decisions before they learn what life is all about. It's a hard, brutal life, with great rewards... if you can make it.

Dawgcatcher
Dawgcatcher

No doubt about it, there is no shortage in coaches that abuse their status and power in recruiting young high school football players. Perhaps the NCAA should set rules on that. Coaches also often take other jobs after recruiting players. But if you want total insanity in college football, allow undergraduate players to transfer at will.

WilSmith
WilSmith

There's another way to solve the problem - instead of year-to-year scholarships make all scholarships full ride for 6 years (enough time to get a degree given that for a good fraction of the school year during the 4-years of eligibility a kid is tied up somehow doing stuff related to their sport). If a coach kicks a kid off the team the kid retains his scholarship, if a player is injured and can't play again he retains his scholarship. Then I can see letting coaches decide when and where a kid can transfer to. 

mark513
mark513

Coaches should have the power, they are responsible for these kids when they show up until they leave. I am sure that head coaches make a difference in the kids decision but in the end the "kids" who are 18 usually when they sign are doing what they think is best from them. Kids play around with hats and all other non-sense before signing day only to whine and complain when things do not go exactly right, come on Shutlz typical liberal BS. BTW I love how you point out Mark Richt, could it be that the reason Richt was fired was because of this and many other difference between his program and Alabama and now Georgia. Kids should never be abused or mistreated, but telling them they can transfer to any number of major university just not one that we have to compete with is ok by me, I guess that makes me a monster. 

TOJacket
TOJacket

Heard of folks jumping on the "Bandwagon"........but unusual to see someone jump on the "Paddy Wagon"?

patriotdog
patriotdog

NCAA is such a fouled up bunch. Different sports have different rules vis a vis transfer rules. All sports should be the same and all schools should be under the NCAA umbrella, also. If a kid has graduated, let him go anywhere, no penalty. Kind of a reward for being a true student athlete.

If a kid has not graduated, let him go anywhere and sit out a year.

patriotdog
patriotdog

If the kid is going to graduate, how does Saban have any authority as to where he can go? He gets his diploma, goes to Ga or anywhere else as a grad student and it's out of Nick's hands.

RollingTide
RollingTide

And here's the thing:  He can transfer and play immediately at any of the other hundreds of schools not in the SEC.  He can also transfer to Georgia....but if he does that he will have to sit out a year.  He can also stay at Alabama and play immediately.  Schultz acts like this kid is stuck in nowhereland without a home.  The Mom is playing Emerson, Schultz, etc. like a fiddle...and they eat it up because they can point their sorry little fingers at mean ole Nick Saban again.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@RollingTide

Why would he want to play at Bama?

They done tossed all his "stuff" in the trash.

POV1948
POV1948

@RollingTide Why can't the player do what the player thinks is right for him, like coaches do? 

PJ25
PJ25

Lets say they remove the barrier and these kids can go wherever they want.  What's to stop the underground boosters from buying a proven quarterback here and buying a productive running back there when their team comes up a little short in the talent department before the season starts?  Many of these kids already get paid to make visits, commit and play so do you really think the cash handlers wouldn't get involved to entice proven players to switch schools?


If still live in fantasy land and think they kids aren't getting paid, here's some good reading.  

http://www.sbnation.com/college-football/2014/4/10/5594348/college-football-bag-man-interview

DerekGator
DerekGator

@PJ25 :  That won't happen because they would still have to sit out a year unless they have graduated. 

Moneyball
Moneyball

In Schultz's fantasy, players could transfer and play immediately, even if it's midseason.

Next topic: Should schools be allowed to trade players?

dawg fan
dawg fan

Coaches have too much power?  Wait until the players enter the workforce and have a little thing called a boss signing their paychecks.  Then they will know about power.  Georgia is an at will state and your boss can fire you if he doesn't like the way your hair looks one morning.  How's that for power?  This all sounds like excellent training for the real world to me.  You guys in the media should try living in it sometimes.  These are fully grown adults who made a commitment to a school and have been given a financial windfall in the way of a free education in return.  Oh boo hoo they can't just up and transfer to whatever school they want when it suits their fancy.  Cry me a river. The coaches have all the power because they are the leaders of their program.  Once again, this is the way the world works.  There are people in charge who you have to answer to.  Somewhere along the way a lot of people started viewing big time college football like a Boys & Girls Club league for 7 year olds.  It's just supposed to be happy fun time for everybody all the time!!  Yay!! WRONG!!  This is big boy football for big boys.  If the players don't like it nobody is holding a gun to their head and making them do it.  They are free to drop football and pay their own way to school.  THAT'S THE REAL WORLD.  Good grief I am so sick of hearing about all the whining over this.    

cwilson5023
cwilson5023

You're view of the real world is somewhat skewed.  First and foremost in the REAL world you have the right to leave that job and go to another one without the permission of your boss.  Second these are not adults.  THESE ARE KIDS!!!  That's why speaking with the parents is part of the recruiting process.  What REAL world do you live in???

WhyorWhyNot
WhyorWhyNot

So if Coach A leaves a school for another job, you think that every kid who ever played for Coach A or every kid Coach A recruited should be able to go with him? How happy would you be if Nick Chubb (before the injury) transferred to Miami? You can say that would be OK with you (although I wouldn't believe you), but I know a ton of Georgia fans would be highly upset.