College recruiting and college sports, in general, have changed and are no longer what we’ve grown accustomed to.
As one coach told me last night, “Man, it’s crazy, never seen anything like it. It’s the wild, wild west out there.”
It’s yet to be seen if this dramatic change in turnover is really good for the players. But I can tell you one thing, the job of college coaches, which was difficult enough to begin with, is a hell of a lot harder.
When a player signs a Letter of Intent, no one should expect that player to remain with a school for 3-4 years. In all honesty, whether either side wants to admit it, all players are on one-year scholarships, with option years.
From now on, at the end of every season, two things will happen: 1.) a player will determine if they’re happy with their current situation/playing time and if not, they’ll transfer. 2.) a program could make that decision for the player. If they’re in need of a scholarship or feel it’s time to have a younger player move up the depth chart, they’ll encourage the player to move on. Harsh but it’s the times we’re living in.
The days of letting a player learn behind a veteran are going to be a thing of the past. If a team feels they might lose a player to the portal because he doesn’t get on the field and feel that player is ready or at least nearly ready, they’re going with youth. Because of the transfer portal, four-, and in some cases, high three-star players aren’t going to be patient in waiting for playing time. If their current situation isn’t getting them on the field, they’ll find a place that will.
This is going to put a ton of pressure on coaches and in some cases, they might make the wrong decision. But more times than not, they’ll make the right call. They see practice and know who’s ready.
Something else that’s going to change is the “importance” of team recruiting rankings. In my opinion, they’re now meaningless. They were worthless to begin with but even more so now.
Because certain teams will bring in more impactful players through the transfer portal. Also, programs are going to be bringing in fewer high school players because of the number of transfers they sign. That sucks for the high school kids but it’s fact. Transfers don’t get counted toward a team’s recruiting ranking.
As I’ve tweeted, I firmly believe that Pat Narduzzi and Pitt are going to clean up in the transfer portal. Honestly, a new system needs to be created to rank teams’ additions with both transfers and high school players. Quarterback Phil Jurkovec will obviously be a valuable addition for Pitt but isn’t going to count towards their additions for the class of 2023.
Don’t get me wrong, high school recruiting is still going to be the lifeblood of any team and has to be. But all teams are going to use the portal as a form of free agency. If they have an immediate need and position fill that could improve their team instantly, they’ll bring in a transfer instead of waiting for a younger player to develop.
In order to stay ahead of the game in this new world of recruiting, teams will need to be the hunter and not look at themselves as the hunted.
The good news for Pitt fans is that from what I’m hearing, Pitt is being aggressive in all areas of this year’s transfer portal. In other words, they’re not just waiting for other programs to pluck away their players. By that, I mean they’re coming up with the funds and making an effort to keep players they want around and are also doing some potential Christmas shopping elsewhere.
This also tells me that Pitt is receiving some financial help in the corporate world in order to be a player in this new world of recruiting, which is a must if you’re serious about winning.
Time will tell how all this plays out and how sustainable the NIL world really is, but in the current wild west climate, Pitt is adapting and actively playing the game.