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Marc Daniels Column - Gone In A Flash: It's A Portal World, Get Used To It

UCF Spring Game

Photo: Getty Images

April 21, 2022

Jaylon Robinson looked great in UCF's Spring Game this past Saturday. He looked healthy and excited, making big plays. Jaylon Robinson entered the transfer portal Wednesday afternoon.

Why? Only Jaylon Robinson can answer but he doesn't have to. Where is he going? My guess is he has an idea or already knows. I do not know. I wish him well. Am I disappointed for UCF? Of course. But I've come to understand we live in a transfer portal/NIL world and trying to understand everything going on is impossible.

Robinson caught 55 passes for 979 yards and six touchdowns in 2020. He was injured in UCF's game at Louisville in 2021 and never got back to full strength. He was and still is primed for a big year in 2022 but it will be elsewhere.

If you are a UCF fan and upset, I get it. But you have to be balanced. I give you Kobe Hudson. Hudson was Auburn's leading receiver in 2021 in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns.He left Auburn to come to UCF. I give you Kemore Gamble. The tight end was third in receptions and receiving yards at Florida last year. He transferred to UCF. Lee Hunter was a top-100 player coming out of high school. The defensive lineman was offered by Alabama, Florida, FSU and Auburn. He chose Auburn and he transferred to UCF with four years to play. The portal giveth and the portal taketh.

Most college football observers believe Gus Malzhan has been one of, if not, the best in working the portal the last two years. Look at UCF's roster it includes running backs, wide receivers, offensive lineman, defensive lineman, linebackers and secondary players that have transferred to UCF. Several are starters and others provide depth.

There has been a shift across college football where teams look at the portal first and then assess their needs from high school. There has been a drop in scholarship offers to high school players all across the country. Many programs prefer a college player with some experience over an incoming freshman that may take a couple of years to develop.

And there is no denying NIL has become a huge part of college football. Collectives and directives pop up all over and while many individuals and businesses have good intentions and are providing athletes with real opportunities, there are many groups of "fans", "donors" and wanna-be GMs creating pools of cash for players.

The Athletic recently ran a story about the going market for top quarterbacks, offensive lineman and wide receivers. There is no one providing oversight to these deals high schoolers are signing with rich people who love their program.

If you believe this is capitalism and how the free market should work, you might be right. But I think college football has entered a dangerous area so fast, too fast, and I think there are unintended consequences coming.

I have said on the radio show and in this space, fans and donors may or may not realize but the expectation to get great recruiting classes or big name transfers falls on you. You are expected to give to your school's collective or if you have a lot of money to be involved in your directive. And what happens when expectations are not met? You may be upset with a coach and hope someone else pays the buyout but wait until that coach comes back saying that if you want better players you need to give more.

Not everyone has jumped into the market of bidding for the services of players. There is no scoreboard of who is and who is not. 

Stop trying to compare the free market in college football with the NFL. In the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys will make a lot more money than the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags are in a small market and the Cowboys are a national brand. But do you know what $208.2M is? That's the NFL salary cap and the Cowboys, Jags and every other team in the NFL can't spend more than that amount. And revenue is shared in the NFL(well, maybe not in Washington). There is no cap in college football and no one in the SEC is sharing its revenue with anyone outside the SEC.

For the umpteenth time, I believe players should control their likeness. If you want a system where players get paid, fine. Just tell me the system and tell me how to do it. But don't expect everyone in FBS to be equal. It's what Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney tried to tell people last week but most critics barked because those two get paid a large sum then why shouldn't players have the same system. It's not the same system. Coaches have contracts with buyouts. You want players to sign contracts? Fine. Just tell me the system.

Right now, there is no system. It's every man for themselves. Do you really think if/when the NCAA tries to set forth policies on stuff like this, these collectives and directives that are basically buying and paying players will just go away? Do you really think the SEC will give back any advantage it believes it has and right now, they have a huge advantage.

Which brings us back to the transfer portal. Again, I really don't know why Jaylon Robinson has chosen to leave UCF. But I have accepted that UCF and all schools will benefit from the portal and also lose some players. And sometimes teams don't mind some of the players who leave. It's just where we are. You have to look both ways. If your team lost five players in the portal and two may have been starters but you gained nine players and five are starters how can you complain when you lose one?

Change normally happens over a period of time where people get to adjust. Changes in college football have happened lightning fast and you have not had time to adapt to those changes. But sometimes good news comes and sometimes it goes. Get used to it, because there is no slowing down any time soon...

Final note: The three most popular pastas are spaghetti, fettuccine and angel hair pasta. Macaroni is fourth.

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