Restrictions on Transfer Portal Make Sense, but Hypocrisy from Coaches Doesn't

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistFebruary 12, 2020

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - DECEMBER 31: Head coach Justin Fuente of the Virginia Tech Hokies watches on against the Kentucky Wildcats during the Belk Bowl at Bank of America Stadium on December 31, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Since the transfer portal was introduced in 2018, the glorified spreadsheet has evolved into one of the hottest topics of the college football offseason.

As the database eliminated most restrictions on transfers, the process of switching schools became easily accessible. Whether a player can find a scholarship elsewhere is not certain, and that's an important topic too. But at this time, we're not interested in discussing the machinations of the portal.

We're focused on recent reactions from Virginia Tech and Connecticut coaches Justin Fuente and Randy Edsall.

During a press conference on national signing day last Wednesday, Fuente revealed a policy regarding Virginia Tech players who are exploring a transfer:

First, let's focus on the words. It's reasonable to separate the person from the statement to only consider what's said.

If not every successful coach, a heavy majority will say a strong team culture is imperative. If players aren't the biggest leaders, a vital element of success is missing. If they're not dedicated to the collective goal, that can become divisive.

Relative to the transfer portal, the trend of players seeing what's out there but knowing there's a backup plan sets a challenging precedent. If the team isn't winning, how many players will poke around? And if they're confident in being welcomed back, why not?

Virginia Tech has faced that dilemma.

Last offseason, the Hokies lost 16 players to transfer. Two othersquarterback Hendon Hooker and running back Deshawn McCleaseentered the portal but ended up returning. Fourteen more are headed out the door this offseason.

Without question, that's an issue.

If unchecked, it could cripple a program because of the 25-scholarship rule that prevents oversigning in recruiting. This is both a reasonable stance for Fuente to take and one that is highly likely the prevalent mindset among coaches.

Plus, he didn't slam the door on potential returns in the future. "We'll take all of them on a case-by-case basis, but we're moving forward," Fuente said.

But it's a problem when the message comes from an individual who did exactly the same thing in this exact offseason.

On signing day, Fuente acknowledged that in January he met with Baylor about its coaching vacancy. He stayed in Blacksburg, yes. The discussions happened within a 24-hour period. But there is no denying the conversation happened.

So, we're just "starting...now!" on that policy. Cool?

You can defend Fuente's choice by saying he made a quick decision, whereas players who enter the portal are no longer around the team and participating in offseason activities. Sure. At some point, a program needs to move on. And, again, the simple decision to not keep any of those playersespecially given the relative lack of previous contributorsis reasonable.

Yet no matter how briefly, Fuente peeked into the coaching version of the transfer portal. He did exactly what fans criticize "uncommitted" players for doingwhat he's created a policy againstand deserves criticism for that inconsistency.

Edsall, on the other hand, is digging a monstrous hole:

Where does he think junior college players are coming from? A more magical portal? And while it's not true across the board, many players head to JUCO because they need to work out something academically or personally, not simply athletically.

Plus, he can't possibly be suggesting high school and JUCO players lack issues. Consider, from October 2019, his own thoughts about this generation.

"You can't give these guys any credit because they don't know how to handle it, because that's all that's happened to them throughout their whole life," Edsall said, per Paul Doyle of the New Haven Register.

They aren't mentally strong, he said. They don't want to take responsibility. They're not willing to be held accountable.

Yes, this awful, lazy and entitled generation has ruined college football. That's why recent powerhouses Alabama, Clemson, LSU, Ohio State and Oklahoma are such complete disasters every year, and it's why the AAC is a dreadful conference with no competition.

Right.

Edsall preached about needing to change the culture upon his return to Storrs in 2017. And during a bad 2018. And he's continually posted about the importance of it as 20-plus players have entered the transfer portal. Perhaps it's time to look in the mirror.

Unfortunately for Edsall, that would entail being reminded about the level of responsibility and accountability that comes with having three victories over FBS teams in three seasons.

That's not his issue, though. It's simply the fault of the entitled, irresponsible players he's been forced to recruit for the last 38 months.

                   

Follow Bleacher Report writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.

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