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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Playing the portal a tricky game for coaches

by Wally Hall | August 30, 2022 at 3:08 a.m.

It was a truly revealing quote.

"Managing your roster right now is the hardest thing to do, in my opinion, as a head coach in college football," Arkansas football Coach Sam Pittman said. "But I think you have to transfer within the conference if you're going to have the transfer rule, because most of the time the players that we're looking for are in this league."

Our man Bob Holt researched and wrote a story in Saturday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette about players who transferred from one SEC school to another SEC school.

Apparently 32 guys jumped from one SEC school to another after last season, and this was the first time an athlete could transfer without sitting out because presidents and chancellors in the SEC voted in June 2021 to change the rule and allow immediate eligibility.

The number seemed high, but consider that 2,538 FBS football players entered the transfer portal, mostly in December 2021 and January 2022 but as late as the spring.

Coaches all across America are warning the players about something that is not highly-publicized.

Of all those players looking for greener pastures, 41% are still looking.

Most of the coaches in the country want there to be a specific time period when athletes can transfer. A window of opportunity that helps the coaches be able to manage their roster.

Of the 14 schools in the SEC, only Kentucky and South Carolina didn't have players transfer to other SEC schools.

Maybe they liked their situation or they just weren't SEC caliber players.

Georgia and Vanderbilt were the only schools not to add a player from their conference. It wasn't surprising the Bulldogs, the defending national champions, didn't because they are loaded. But on the other hand, Kirby Smart lost 13 in the portal and five of those signed with SEC schools.

Yet, Alabama is also loaded and they added three players, including one from Vanderbilt as well as LSU and Georgia.

Ole Miss accepted 19 transfers, seven from the SEC, a league-high and five of those were from the SEC West including two from arch-rival Mississippi State, which took only two transfers from the league. They were from Georgia and Alabama.

That's what Pittman was talking about.

Arkansas and Kentucky were second with four. The Razorbacks signed four defensive players, all of whom are expected to contribute and Drew Sanders (Alabama) is expected to start at linebacker.

Sources say Sanders is fast and physical.

Probably the most talked-about transfers included Arkansas and LSU.

Greg Brooks and Joe Foucha left the Hogs for the Tigers, but both are from south Louisiana and, all things considered, left on good terms with Pittman, who expresses his respect for them often.

Meanwhile, the Razorbacks signed two from the Tigers.

The number of players entering the transfer portal doubled from 2020 to 2021, and there is expected to be another increase after this season despite the numbers who found the portal was a mistake.

Based on the national numbers, expect to see more players jumping from one SEC school to another in 2022.

The SEC had to change their rule of transfers sitting out or it would have been left behind on the national scene.

However, someone like Bob Holt will be watching and at the end of the season, he'll know just how many transfers contributed and how many remained on the bench.

One thing is certain. Until the NCAA gets a grip on the portal, Pittman was 100% right, managing a roster can be a nightmare.

Print Headline: Playing the portal a tricky game for coaches


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