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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Former Hogs decide fresh start is for them

by Wally Hall | April 22, 2021 at 2:37 a.m.

Wednesday's sports front was filled with news of the University of Arkansas and the transfer portal.

Or in the case of Desi Sills, a former Razorback who announced he is going to Auburn, where he will have two more years to play because the NCAA awarded all athletes an extra year of eligibility because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The other move was the surprising announcement that receiver Mike Woods had put his name in the portal.

Woods was part of the A-team of receivers for the Hogs and was being counted on heavily this fall.

The other big news was that Bob Baffert-trained horses Charlatan and Gamine were reinstated as winners of the 2020 Arkansas Derby and an optional claiming race, respectively.

That wasn't really surprising as the amount of the drug that they tested positive for was barely over the allowed amount and wouldn't have made a difference in the way they dominated that day.

Baffert was fined $5,000 for each incident, but with the reinstatements he made at least six times the total fines.

He was at the appeal of his 15-day suspension in front of the Arkansas Racing Commission. Too bad that he doesn't show up to the races that his horses run in at Oaklawn.

Back to the portal, which seems to have become a catch-all place for all kinds of athletes. More than 1,300 are expected to transfer in men's basketball alone.

According to the NCAA, the No. 1 reason for an athlete to enter the portal is academics, and it isn't always bad grades. Maybe an athlete didn't realize the school he signed with considered itself on an Ivy League level and required Algebra III to graduate.

Absolutely not saying academics was why Sills or Woods decided to transfer. In fact, Woods is transferring as a graduate according to his initial tweet announcing his transfer.

Both used social media to announce their intentions to transfer, but before they can do that there is a process the NCAA requires of athletes before they enter the transfer portal:

A. The athlete tells his/her compliance office that he/she wants to transfer.

B. The compliance office has two business days to digitally register that athlete in the portal.

C. Coaches can see who is in the portal, but it is not public information.

D. Athletes can withdraw from the portal; it's then up to the school to decide whether to take that athlete back and restore his/her scholarship.

It seemed obvious that Sills' main concern was more playing time, despite the fact he started almost half of the games last year.

Sills may or may not have been receiving advice, but it has been written here many times that when athletes transfer, they should go to another conference and not play against their old team.

Any reception for a return appearance will not be warm. Fans only like transfers who come to their school, not those who leave.

Sills closed out a tweet announcing his departure from Arkansas with, "I'm going somewhere I can be Desi Sills and not be (held) back! That's that on that. I'm a certified (bucket), y'all will see in the near future."

Sills averaged 7.5 points per game and 20.7 minutes. He shot 43% from the field, including 31.8% on three-pointers.

The upside for Sills is he is transferring to a school that lost three guards. The downside is Auburn self-imposed a postseason ban last season during an ongoing investigation of the Tigers, Arizona, Kansas, Louisville, LSU and others.

Every athlete should consider the transfer portal a fresh start.

Print Headline: Former Hogs decide fresh start is for them

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