Trans­fer por­tal frosts Franklin

Bemoans re­cruit­ment of play­ers who al­ready are on col­lege ros­ters

The Morning Call - - SPORTS - By Mark Wo­gen­rich

Penn State coach James Franklin has another is­sue with the NCAA’s trans­fer por­tal, one he says few peo­ple are dis­cussing: col­lege coaches who re­cruit col­lege play­ers.

Franklin on Tues­day re­it­er­ated his con­cern with the re­vamped trans­fer process, us­ing Penn State’s op­po­nent Satur­day as a case study. Buf­falo vis­its Beaver Sta­dium fol­low­ing its best sea­son in school his­tory. The Bulls went 10-4, played in the Mid-Amer­i­can Con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship game and had the MAC of­fen­sive player of the year in quar­ter­back Tyree Jack­son.

But Jack­son is gone, along with an of­fense that lost three other im­por­tant play­ers to trans­fers. Tyler Mabry, a first-team all-con­fer­ence tight end, left for Mary­land, where he scored a touch­down last week. All-con­fer­ence re­ceiver KJ Os­born trans­ferred to Mi­ami and caught four passes in the team’s opener against Florida. And another re­ceiver, Char­lie Jones, left for Iowa as a walk-on.

Buf­falo knew it would grad­u­ate plenty of tal­ent, but the trans­fers stung even fur­ther. Franklin, a friend of Buf­falo coach Lance Leipold, doesn’t think that’s right.

“It should not be hap­pen­ing, but it is,” Franklin said. “Peo­ple are re­cruit­ing from other col­leges now. Whether they’re do­ing it di­rectly or in­di­rectly, it’s hap­pen­ing, and it’s not re­ally what’s sup­posed to be hap­pen­ing. I don’t think it’s the right thing for col­lege football.”

Franklin has been a critic of the new trans­fer model, which the NCAA en­acted last year. And it has im­pacted Penn State: Twelve schol­ar­ship play­ers with el­i­gi­bil­ity have trans­ferred, though most (like quar­ter­back Tommy Stevens) did so as grad­u­ates.

Penn State is bet­ter po­si­tioned than a team like Buf­falo to ab­sorb such losses, par­tic­u­larly since the teams face dif­fer­ent cir­cum­stances. Most of the

play­ers who trans­ferred from Penn State were re­serves look­ing for a chance to play in their fi­nal sea­sons.

Buf­falo, mean­while, lost sev­eral all-con­fer­ence play­ers who would have made a tan­gi­ble dif­fer­ence this year. Os­born and Mabry, for in­stance, com­bined for nine touch­downs in 2018.

“Those jobs have al­ways been tough,” Franklin said, “but I think they have got­ten tougher.”

Ear­lier this sum­mer, Franklin out­lined his new po­si­tion re­gard­ing play­ers who seek to trans­fer. If play­ers add their names to the trans­fer por­tal, Franklin said, they will lose their schol­ar­ships at the end of the se­mes­ter.

Play­ers can re­turn, though the schol­ar­ship might not be there. As Franklin said, “If you’re look­ing, we’re look­ing.”

“Us be­ing very clear and up front about how we han­dle things, I think, has helped,” Franklin said. “There was too much am­bi­gu­ity for us. We’re very clear now.”

Penn State also has ben­e­fited from the new trans­fer rules. Jor­dan Stout, a kicker from Vir­ginia Tech, joined the Lions as a schol­ar­ship player this spring. He de­buted Satur­day, mak­ing a 53-yard field goal and send­ing 12 kick­offs in the end zone for touch­backs.

But on Tues­day, Franklin once again called the trans­fer por­tal “con­cern­ing” in that it changes the stu­dent-ath­lete dy­namic.

“I think most of these de­ci­sions are be­ing driven by football, where the col­lege ath­let­ics that I grew up with was driven based on aca­demics,” Franklin said. “And don’t get me wrong, the ath­letic ex­pe­ri­ence was very, very im­por­tant as well, but it was in that or­der. And what I’m see­ing right now is a lit­tle bit of a shift. That’s, to me, some­what con­cern­ing.”

BARRY REEGER/AP

Penn State coach James Franklin has a prob­lem with the NCAA’s sys­tem on trans­fers. “Peo­ple are re­cruit­ing from other col­leges now,” he said.

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