Depending on your perspective — and bias — the transfer portal and NIL can be sacrilege, a movement, a nest egg, an impediment, control, a disaster, or justice.
What it has done has taken power in college sports, which was concentrated in the hands of a group of people who don’t wear pads, and dispersed some of it to the players. A redistribution that had been necessary for decades. However, with more power than they’ve ever had before, I wanted to see the players begin to act somewhat like the figures who used to lord over the institution.
Specifically, I wanted more pettiness. Young players are taught early about sportsmanship, class, industriousness, and all of those other values that people in athletics believe they teach the best. However, when those who don’t pass, punt, kick, catch, run, block, or tackle, get an attitude about something, that is when they make their best contribution to the sport. And if the elder statesmen of college sports are entertaining when sniping at each other, it should stand to reason that it would be fun for players to behave in the same way.
Dillon Johnson decided that the best decision for his future would be to enter the transfer portal. He posted a message on social media expressing gratitude for the support of the people at Mississippi State during his time there, as well as special “thank you” for head coach Mike Leach.
“With that said, since I am not very tough and Leach is glad I am leaving, I will be entering my name into the transfer portal with the hopes of finding a more fit playing environment for me.”
Yes, part of college is to prepare students for the business world. I would advise all of them to do exactly the opposite of what Johnson did when they part ways with an employer they don’t like.
All of that being said, this isn’t an office and water cooler type of a situation. It’s Power 5 college football. A place where Jimbo Fisher and Nick Saban beared their teeth at each other before Week 0, and Steve Spurrier clowned opposing coaches for exercise.
It gets spicy in this world, so why not let the players bring some to the table? Mike Leach has expressed before that in his ideal world the player puts the coaches’ needs before their own. Leach leaves Washington State for a SEC job, he is simply a participant in a free market economy. But when players choose to not play in a bowl game so they can maximize their profits as opposed to their university’s, Leach believes that is a selfish act.
With those beliefs, and some other questionable ones, I very much enjoyed his second-leading rusher being a smart-ass — in print — on his way out of the door. Sometimes people are petty in college sports. That part of the business can be as entertaining as a muffed punt, or a March Madness buzzer beater.
Now that the players are more a part of the business than ever, I encourage more of this behavior. Sure it’s unprofessional, but so are college sports.