Sometimes the much-discussed NCAA transfer portal, designed to facilitate easier movement of players seeking to transfer in any sport, particularly in football, depends on the direction from which one views it.
For Alabama coach Nick Saban, coach of the defending SEC champs, transfers are more of an outflow issue, although Saban acknowledges that the Crimson Tide has opted to take some grad transfers who can supply immediate help, including championship-winning quarterback Jake Coker, wide receivers Gehrig Dieter and Richard Mullaney and, for 2019, former Florida State offensive lineman Landon Dickerson.
“If (players) need to leave and go someplace else, then I guess there’s not a lot we can do about that,” Saban said on Wednesday. “But we have not been very active. We’re usually full from a scholarship standpoint. So we haven’t really been active (in) trying to go and recruit transfers from other schools.
“We look at who is in the graduate transfer pool. And if there’s somebody that can give us immediate help on our team, we have had several graduate transfers. (But) we really haven’t been active at all in that part of how we bring players to our team.”
The needs at Arkansas, which did not win a conference game last season, are more immediate, which is why, among other transfers, Razorback coach Chad Morris has an ongoing quarterback battle between former SMU quarterback Ben Hicks and one-time Texas A&M recruit Nick Starkel. It’s uncertain which will win the job and start in the opener, much less against Alabama on October 26.
“Yeah, I don’t have a date set,” Morris said. “This is the actual date because I don’t know how camp is going to go. I know we’re running somebody out there on that first game. I do know that. I don’t want that to be the first time everybody knows it, but we’ll see. The sooner, the better because I want our team to rally around that guy. But I also know that, you know, it’s going to have to work itself out. They’ve had a tremendous summer.
“Nick played in this league. Nick’s won in this league. So he understands what this league is about.
“Ben played for us for three years (when Morris was head coach at SMU.) I recruited him out of high school. He knows the offense. He’s been a quarterback of a football team that went 2-10. So he stood in that team room. He stood in front of teammates before. And he’s also dug a team out of being in that position before So he understands.”