The world of college football is rapidly changing.
If you took a time machine back just 20 years ago, college football fans would be shocked to learn how much different the game looks in 2023 compared to 2003.
There are a number of driving elements for that change. The consolidation of conferences is one. The creation of the College Football Playoff is another. But perhaps the two biggest changes are the creation of the transfer portal and the introduction of NIL to college athletics.
The former allows players to move freely from school to school without having to sit out a year.
That’s led to some issues for college coaches who can no longer focus only on recruiting high school prospects, but also must focus on retaining their own players.
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, who has never been shy about sharing his opinions, believes he has a solution to this.
“And until we get contractual scholarships in high school recruiting the portal is never going to settle down. For example, young men should be able to sign a one-, two-, three- or four-year scholarship. That’s their choice. Whatever they sign, that’s what they’re committed to. That’s what we’re going to now. That’s the only way that we are going to have a chance to manage rosters. So, let’s just say that at the end of this year I’ve got 19 guys whose contracts are up. They may be a senior or a freshman. So, if you’re a five-star guy, like you’re a heavily recruited guy, you might just sign a one-year deal and then say, ‘Well, I’m good enough to sign another one-year deal, or I can leave if I want.” – via FootballScoop.com
Gundy believes the change would make it easier for coaches to manage their rosters on a year-to-year basis.
“So, until they do that, we don’t really know who’s in and out for that upcoming year. So, it’s hard for us to balance our numbers. So, I’ve suggested (modifications) . I don’t know if anybody’s listened or cares, but high school kids ought to have an opportunity. So, you want a four-year deal? Sign a four-year deal, but you’re bound to that four-year contract unless your head coach says he’ll sign off and let you go. And then that puts more pressure on the head coach, but at least it gives a young man a chance to leave if he comes in and says, ‘Coach, I’m not good enough to play here. I want to go to this school.’ I sign off and let him go. Or whatever reason. But that’s the only way they’re gonna be able to manage numbers in my opinion. That would slow the portal down.”
Ultimately, his suggestion seems unlikely. College athletes currently have the freedom to transfer as they please while still having the security of a four-year scholarship (at least in Power 5 conferences). So it’s unlikely they’d willingly give that up.
But it’s easy to see Gundy’s point.