For all you married folks reading this, imagine if your spouse had the ability to hit a button that wound back time and undid your marriage — not a divorce, but a like-it-never-happened annulment — and then you found out they pressed it. That would lead to some soul searching, right?
College football is going through something similar right now with the transfer portal, where players have been given their own get-out-of-jail-free cards and some 1,500 have mashed it. (The transfer portal isn’t really a get-out-of-jail-free card in actuality, but that’s beside the point here.)
The Athletic‘s Max Olson spoke to a number of high-level coaches across the sport to diagnose and treat the transfer problem infecting much of the sport, and it harkens back to an old coaching adage: You recruit your own problems. Gary Patterson and Tom Herman said the problems can stem from recruiting the wrong type of player, while David Shaw said the problem lies in how expectations are created in the recruiting process.
It reminded me of hearing Shaw address the AFCA general session back in 2013:
On setting a firm standard early in the recruiting stage… “When you recruit a young man, if you let him know right off the bat what your expectations are, he’ll let you know if he’s up for it.”
On his favorite saying in coaching and parenting… “‘Start as you mean to go on’. You can’t be buddy-buddy with a guy through the recruiting process and then try to be his mentor later. It’s like parenting, you can’t do things one way and then change things up when your kids are eight years old. They don’t understand.”
I don’t want to spoil too much of the article here, but the consensus among the coaches polled by Olson seems to be this: The way to get players to stick around in the transfer portal era is to dig deeper — both in the type of player who gets recruited, and in relationship-building during the recruiting process and while they’re on campus. Outside of that, the recipe won’t change: to show love through coaching, and to show coaching through love.
“I’m not sure it’s my job to keep them happy,” new Texas Tech coach Matt Wells said. “I think it’s my job to coach ’em hard, love ’em hard, be up front, be honest, be demanding yet loving. If all of that stuff makes them happy, then that’s the kind of kid I want in this program.”