On Wednesday a story that should have grabbed headlines went under the radar and got little attention but it will very soon. While most people in college football focused on SEC Media Days and speculated on what's going on with the Big XII and Pac 12, the NCAA sent out a release at 7:30p.
The Division 1 council endorsed several recommendations they felt were in the best interest of student-athletes. Some in the media focused on the suggestions for two transfer portal windows and that is a big story. But the biggest bit of news in that release came several paragraphs down.
"The Council endorsed a concept that would eliminate the blanket rule prohibiting transferring more than once."
If passed, and normally when the NCAA Division 1 council recommends something it means the vote to approve is a formality, it would allow players to transfer as often as they want as long as they have eligibility and show academic progress. The current system allows a player one free transfer without sitting out. A second transfer would require the player to sit out a season. The change would essentially allow a player to bounce every single season. Add in the world of NIL and pay-for-play and you are about to see something that makes the current model look silly.
Imagine a system where your favorite team sees 25 players come and 25 players go every year. Crazy? Nope, the expected norm.
Which brings us to Cash Thompson. Cash is not a real player but we will make him exist for this story. Cash is a 6-2 240 pound middle linebacker who got his nickname by crushing kids in Pop Warner football and other fathers were telling Cash's dad that was "money" and bound for the NFL.
Cash was an all-state player in high school but a shoulder injury his senior season scared the top schools away and Cash was rated a 3-star prospect. He had offers from mid-level and low-level P5s and lots of G5 schools. He announced on his social media his 15 finalists before he chose to go to FAU. Cash said he loved Willie Taggert and what FAU had to offer.
During camp in August of Cash's freshman season, that shoulder injury popped up again during a scrimmage. He would go on to miss three months but returned in game nine. He got a start in the next game and dominated. He had 15 tackles,a sack and a forced fumble. The performance earned him a Defensive Players of the Week award in the AAC(that's where FAU is headed). He played in the final two games and ended up with 38 tackles, 3 sacks, and 8 tackles for a loss. Cash had solidified himself as the face of the Owls defense after his four game performance.
But Cash chose to not play in the FAU bowl game. He was not hurt. He had played in just four games and therefore did not burn his redshirt and by now he had heard from people representing a few P5 schools about their interest and he also had a few calls from collectives talking about NIL deals.
Cash decided to take the cash and accepted $25,000 up front with another $50,000 due later from a collective from Kentucky. He would jump to the SEC and play against the best of the best.
When he got to Lexington he quickly saw the Wildcats had depth at his position and playing time might be a challenge. But he went out and got to play in nine games as a reserve linebacker and played on special teams. He got most of the money promised from the collective but at the end of the season someone from Maryland pitched him about their need for a middle linebacker and how their collective had some really good stuff going on. Cash decided College Park was a cool place and bounced again.
At Maryland, Cash was a starter from game one. He was the most consistent player on defense and went on to lead the team in tackles and sacks and earned Player of the Week honors three times that season. NFL scouts took notice and he was on the radar as a future draft prospect to watch. Cash loved playing at Maryland but one day he got a call that changed all that.
Cash spoke with someone who said Florida State was in need of a middle linebacker and thought he could make six figures in NIL money. The idea of returning to Florida was appealing. His parents and friends could make all home games and when he was growing up he loved trying to play like Derrick Brooks and his dad loved Derrick Brooks. So, Cash bounced again and became a Seminole.
Tallahassee felt like home to Cash. He was the starting middle linebacker and got to see his parents and friends at home games and he loved his teammates. He got off to a great start to the season and had the potential for an all-American year. But in game six he sprained an ankle. After missing a few games, some of the collective money he was promised didn't come and a young freshman sensation took over at middle linebacker. The injury impacted Cash's draft stock and after thinking he could be a first or second round pick the buzz was maybe a late pick in the NFL Draft.
Cash was down and wondered about his spot on defense. That changed when he got a call one late day in November from someone connected with Penn State. Turns out his former position coach at Kentucky was now at Penn State and they needed a middle linebacker. Cash felt it was too good an opportunity to pass up. A few NIL deals were promised and Cash was off to Penn State.
His final season began with a nationally televised game where he dominated with 13 tackles, a sack and an interception and Cash felt all was good again. He was the leader of the defense and would go on to earn all-conference honors and showed NFL scouts he was draft worthy.
After playing in his regular season finale, Cash announced he would be skipping Penn State's bowl game to prepare for the NFL Draft(because everyone does that).
Looking back, Cash played at five schools, was an all-conference selection, put up some great stats, made a few hundred thousand dollars in NIL/pay-for-play deals and ended up being a fourth round draft pick.
If you think that story and journey is hard to follow and harder to believe, get ready for it. Because stories like this are coming in a system where players get to transfer every year. I am not saying it's wrong and maybe it's the right thing to do. But players becoming free agents every season will make it hard to follow who is on your team and who is coming and going.
The story above is fiction but it will become real and get ready for things you've never seen before but will see a lot in the seasons to come.
Final note: The 1870 college football season had two games. Rutgers beat Columbia 6-3. One week later, Princeton beat Rutgers 6-2. Princeton was undefeated and therefore considered the national champions for the season.