Why Tennessee Vols should hire a football 'transfer coach' | Adams
I don’t give the NCAA credit for much. But the governing body for college athletics demonstrated its farsightedness several years ago.
It made “tampering” a Level 2 violation. The goal: prevent schools from tampering with athletes enrolled at another institution.
The NCAA’s concern was understandable. As its transfer policy became less restrictive, it knew schools would be more apt to poach athletes from other programs.
Three years later, the transfer rules are more lenient than ever. When the 2021-22 school year begins, the NCAA will allow athletes to transfer once from one college to another without penalty. They won’t have to sit out a year. They can just go play somewhere else.
You know what that means? The temptation to tamper will be greater than ever.
But if you believe colleges won’t try to poach players from other schools — even from within their own conference — you have no grasp of what big-time competitive sports are all about. They’re about finding an extra edge. Sometimes, that edge is best found by slightly bending an NCAA rule or two — or, if the school was desperate enough, obliterating the NCAA rule book.
So what if tampering is a Level 2 violation. The reward far outweighs the risk — even for a program like Tennessee, which could face NCAA sanctions after the school's internal investigation revealed that former coach Jeremy Pruitt and his staff committed serious recruiting violations.
Malachi Wideman:Why Tennessee Vols receiver entered the transfer portal
ESPN staff writer Alex Scarborough addressed the tampering issue in an in-depth article last month.
Scarborough wrote: “An SEC head coach said that not only is tampering happening, ‘it happens most of the time.'”
The coach’s point: If you wait for a player to announce his entry into the transfer portal, you’re too late.
And, as any savvy SEC football fan knows, being late in recruiting can do far more damage to your program than a cornerback being a step late defending a “go” route.
But how do you know what players are unhappy enough to jump from one program to another? Maybe, your own players can tell you.
College prospects get to know one another through football camps and the recruiting process. They make friends. Even though they might wind up at different schools, they sometimes stay in touch.
So, if one of those players is unhappy with his status on the depth chart, whom will he call?
Answer: His old recruiting buddy.
The tampering rule, though well intended, is unenforceable. The NCAA can’t prevent players from one school talking to players at another school. Nor can it prevent coaches from encouraging such conversations.
And it can’t prevent programs from becoming more organized in the transfer business. It’s just a matter of time before a school hires a "transfer coach." Of course, he won’t be called a transfer coach. Instead, he will join the burgeoning quality-control industry.
Quality-control coaches can’t coach players. But they can study video until they’re seeing double. They also could be on alert for potential transfers.
A transfer coach could have every player on his program’s roster list all the players he knows at other schools. He also could encourage them to nurture those friendships.
That’s just being sociable.
Such networking might not mean much for elite programs like Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State. But for losing programs like Tennessee, which needs all the help it can get, a transfer coach could prove invaluable.
John Adams is a senior columnist. He may be reached at 865-342-6284 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at: twitter.com/johnadamskns.