Marc Daniels: College Football Free Agency Like You Never Imagined

Washington State v USC

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Monday December 5th will be a day like no other in the history of college football. Oh, we will know who is in the College Football Playoff but that's not what will be unique about that day. There may be more head coaching vacancies filled, but that's not it either.

Come Monday the transfer portal opens and an avalanche of players will be entering and millions of dollars will be on the move. College football free agency is here and you've not seen anything like it.

Hundreds and hundreds of players will formally enter the NCAA Transfer Portal. A player must officially enter the portal before a team can contact the player- legally- to talk about coming to their school. But the process of players moving to another school has been going on for weeks. Coaches have reached out to players and players have reached out to coaches. High school coaches play middle man. A friend of a friend sends a text and so it goes. 

But these days those communications are not just about how nice the locker room is or the new weight room being built. These days it's about how much money you are offering or how much money you are seeking. One player tells a school he was X by another school and in some cases there is no X but that's how the system works.

Some schools have millions in collective money to get players to come to their school. Promises are made and false hope is given out. But it is true free agency. The NCAA has basically thrown their hands up and no longer blocks any move. The fairly new rule that allowed for one free transfer is basically outdated. If a player who has already transferred wants to transfer again, no one is stopping them. There are no waivers needed, just go.

Coaches have been monitoring rosters and who is playing at other schools all season. Every major program now has a full time staff that does nothing but study this and then teams decide how to make contact. If there is a four-star recruit not playing much at one place and you think he can help you then you make contact in some form and engage in the pitch. Or you have the all-conference player that you simply want to offer a lot of money to.

I wrote in this space on Monday about the idea of potential Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams entering the portal and making it clear that he is seeking $10M to play next season. Williams, the USC quarterback, is not eligible for the NFL Draft until 2024. He left Oklahoma to follow Lincoln Riley to Hollywood. He has benefitted by the NIL rules and has numerous publicized sponsor deals. But no one will have more leverage than Williams. If he wanted $5-10M to play would USC pay? How could they not? Would anyone else pay that much? Only one way to find out. My guess is Williams won't need to enter the portal. USC knows it will need a few million to pay their quarterback but the point is that's how this new system works.

Players from your favorite teams, not all, have been working the system. They have tried to find what their market value is. Some are learning that their market value is little to no money. Others are learning that there may be more money elsewhere.

Fans will be surprised to learn who enters the portal because this is all new but it will become the norm.

Not every school is out there throwing out millions but many are. The transfer portal gives and takes and get set for a day like you've never seen.

The transfer portal opens Monday and stays open until January 23, 2023. When the portal closes the number of players who change teams will be a record but the number of players that don't find a home will also be a record. These are different times in college football but get used to it because it's the new norm...

Nuggets: The College Football Playoff rankings are out with Georgia, Michigan, TCU and USC in the top four spots with Ohio State and Alabama sitting at five and six. With both the Buckeyes and Crimson Tide not playing in a conference title game shouldn't the playoff four be set with just pairings to be determined? How could you penalize any team playing in the top four just because they are playing an extra game in which Ohio State and Alabama did not earn? I love debate and controversy as much as anyone but all four could forfeit(which they won't) and not play this weekend and therefore have no movement in the top four. Many wonder about losses by TCU and USC to open the door for Ohio State and Alabama, but why? How can you penalize TCU and USC for playing an extra game? And before any Buckeye says that USC would have a second loss and Ohio State lost only once, then you are proving my point that USC should just skip the game...The Rose Bowl may single handedly be the reason the College Football Playoff does not expand before 2026. The Rose Bowl is trying to negotiate several things with the CFP about keeping its place at 5p on January 1st when hosting a semifinal. Their arrogance may indeed block expansion since they have a contract in place through the end of the current contract. But it may also come at a price where the CFP tells the Rose Bowl to pound sand when the 12-team playoff does happen...Good for former UCF assistant Brent Key who was named head coach at Georgia Tech after a stint as the interim coach. Brent is a good coach and good person and I got to know him during his time in Orlando. And in a way, UCF helped him get the job. When the Knights beat Georgia Tech, the school fired Geoff Collins- another former UCF assistant- and Key was named interim coach and got the chance to prove himself...

Final note: The first bowl game ever played took place in 1902. It was called the Tournament East-West football game. Michigan beat Stanford 49-0. The Tournament of Roses, the group that put on the annual parade in California, formally sponsored a college football game starting in 1916 and when the game was played in the newly built Rose Bowl you got the modern name of the bowl........that may delay the expansion of the college football playoff. 

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