Welcome to “Second Guess” Tuesday.
The forecast is freezing opinions with a chance of snow.
n Let’s call it “Portal Recruiting.”
Better get accustomed to that terminology because it appears to be trending. The reference, of course, is to the NCAA-sanctioned “transfer portal,” which allows college athletes to transfer immediately with no loss of eligibility.
As it is turning out, the transfer portal isn’t just a game-changer. It’s also going to alter football and basketball recruiting as we know it.
Exhibit A: Texas State.
By the end of National Signing Day, only six days ago, Texas State had signed 11 transfers via the portal and zero high school recruits. So, the Sun Belt Conference member signed an entire recruiting class from the transfer portal.
Sounds ludicrous on the surface, doesn’t it? But is it really? Or, instead, is it the dawning of a trend?
It just might be time to lean toward the latter.
Just ask veteran West Virginia University basketball head coach Bob Huggins. During a recent Zoom meeting, Huggins spoke out on the topic. He said pointedly that he didn’t like the concept of the transfer portal and that he believed it was bad for college athletics.
Then came a “but.”
“But we’re going to have to recruit from the transfer portal,” said Huggins.
What sense does it make to recruit nothing but high school prospects when seasoned players with college experience are available in the transfer portal?
So, a coach’s hands are tied even if he disagrees with the concept.
Then there’s the tack that Texas State has taken. It was engineered by third-year football head coach Jake Spavital. If his name sounds familiar it’s because it should.
Spavital did two tours of duty with WVU’s football program. He was the Mountaineers’ quarterback coach in 2011-12 and then offensive coordinator and quarterback coach in 2017-18.
It will be interesting to keep track of how Texas State’s recruiting experiment with the transfer portal works during the 2021 season.
It’s a high-risk move, but it also could have a high reward.
n Meanwhile, Western Kentucky football head coach Tyson Helton has pulled off a rather stunning series of moves.
It all started on Dec. 14, according to Football Scoop, when Helton hired Zac Kittley away from FCS member Houston Baptist to become the Hilltoppers’ offensive coordinator and quarterback coach.
What makes this so interesting is Kittley just might possess one of the finest offensive minds in college football. Last year at Houston Baptist, during a four-game season, his offense passed for 480 yards and three touchdowns at North Texas, 406 yards and five TDs at Louisiana Tech and 380 yards and three scores at Eastern Kentucky.
Then there’s Houston Baptist’s performance at Texas Tech. Although Tech won 35-33, Kittley’s offense completed 30 of 49 passes for 567 yards and four touchdowns.
So Kittley has quite the credentials.
But wait, there’s more. Five days after hiring Kittley, wide receiver brothers Jerreth (47 catches, 454 yards, five TDs) and Josh Sterns (13 catches, 403 yards, four TDs) announced they were transferring to Western Kentucky.
Next, senior quarterback Bailey Zappe announced he, too, was heading to WKU. In 2020, Zappe completed 141 of 215 passes (65.6%) for 1,833 yards with 15 touchdowns and only one interception in four games.
Then, the final piece of the puzzle, wideout Ben Ratzlaff, joined the Hilltoppers’ fold. Those three wide receivers combined for 89 catches for 1,256 yards and 12 TDs in 2020.
There it is.
The transfer portal at work.