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The transfer portal has become an obsession, both for college student-athletes and for the fans who follow the various sports.

It’s really not the portal that’s to blame, as it’s merely a database that was established a few years ago by the NCAA to provide one online spot for college programs to scan the list of those individuals seeking to transfer.

The real culprit, if you want to call it that, is the NCAA’s approval last summer of the opportunity for student-athletes in the major sports like football and basketball to transfer once as undergraduates without having to serve the “penalty” of sitting out a year at their new school.

For many, transferring is a good thing. Maybe athletes are unhappy with their lives at their previous school, or they want more playing time at a different program, even if they have to move down a level to receive it. There is only a finite period of time in a college athlete’s career, and he/she doesn’t want to spend those four or five years sitting on the bench. They want to play, even if that means moving from a Power Five college down to one in the Group of Five or even FCS, Division II or Division III.

It’s not necessarily even about getting exposure to catch the eye of a professional team — though, admittedly, that can be part of it as well — but just getting an opportunity play in games can often be the driving force. That reason for a transfer is not only understandable but has also been around for ages.

Both WVU football coach Neal Brown and men’s basketball coach Bob Huggins transferred during their college playing careers because they wanted more playing time — thus Brown’s move from Kentucky to UMass — or didn’t like the situation after a coaching change — the reason behind Huggins’ transfer from Ohio University to WVU.

For those types, using the transfer portal to find happiness and playing time is perfectly understandable.

Also what many don’t address is the fact that a lot of student-athletes are encouraged to move into the portal by their old college coaches because that player didn’t factor into the future plans of the program, and thus was using a scholarship that the coach believed could be better utilized by someone else.

But there is an increasingly large number of others who already have starting roles at their previous schools yet believe the grass is greener elsewhere. Some do find greener grass, but many do not. Leaving a good situation at one school for a pie-in-the-sky search somewhere else is the unsettling part of today’s transfer world.

Over the years, West Virginia has seen many student-athletes who have transferred out and many others who have transferred in, but rarely was it a starter who already was getting significant playing time and was in good standing within the program.

That’s not the case anymore, be it at WVU or any other NCAA institution.

Transfers are so prominent these days that there are websites and Twitter pages dedicated solely to tracking the movement of college athletes from one school to another.

The Twitter site NCAA Transfer Portal is one of those that follows such movement for college football, and it recently released some interesting data for transfers in that sport.

As of Jan. 24:

  • A total of 1,254 FBS scholarship players have entered the transfer portal since August.
  • Fifty-four players have withdrawn from the portal and are staying at their old schools.
  • Some 625 players announced their transfers to new schools, meaning 52.1% of portal players have announced new schools.
  • A total of 575 FBS scholarship players remain in the portal (47.9%).
  • Of the 408 Power Five portal players to announce new schools since Aug. 1, 47.6% are moving to another P5 program, 38.9% to a Group of Five program, 13.5% to an FCS program and .01% to a DII program.

The numbers for the Mountaineers who have entered the transfer portal since last August are similar. WVU has had 15 football players enter the transfer portal in the last six months, which may seem like a large number but doesn’t even place West Virginia in the top 20 among schools losing players to the portal at the FBS level.

Of WVU’s 15 outgoing transfers, four have moved to other Power Five schools, five have transferred to Group of Five colleges, three are at FCS programs and three have not yet announced their destinations.

For some, a transfer is a good idea, but others find the grass isn’t always greener.