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Gundy Embracing Transfer Portal, Still Wants NCAA Regulation

It sounds like the head coach has finally accepted college free agency.



If you could draw up a least-favorite college football scenario five years ago for Mike Gundy — outside of mandatory grooming — it probably would have been the transfer portal.

Like it or not, Gundy is mega-old school to the point that I’m not sure he doesn’t tell incoming freshmen about how he had to walk from Kerr-Drummond to Lewis Field every day giving Thurman Thomas and Barry Sanders piggyback rides for conditioning.

And yet, here we are. A few years into the transfer portal era, and OSU has both benefited (Israel Antwine) and paid the price (Sugar Loaf Daniels and Jalen McCleskey) of the portal’s existence.

On Wednesday, Gundy addressed it.

“It’s here forever, and everybody now has accepted it,” said Gundy. “Young man wants to go on the portal, we’re all good with it. I’m good with it. I just need the NCAA to do their job and balance it out to make it to where everybody can even their numbers out so we don’t go into practices with 75 players instead of 85 and get guys hurt because they’re getting too many reps. There’s a lot of things going on in the portal, but for the most part if a young man wants to transfer, he’s gonna transfer. You have head coaches getting fired. So if a head coach gets fired, a young man transfers, it’s justified.

“The other position is quarterback. Three of the four teams playing in the playoffs are playing with quarterbacks they didn’t recruit. It’s a big deal. So how big of an impact is that making in college football? Pretty big impact. It’s here. It’s here to stay. They just need to balance the numbers and give us an opportunity, everybody not just Oklahoma State, to balance our numbers. Then I think it’s good.”

The point about the College Football Playoff is great and one I hadn’t thought a ton about. As for the regulation, here’s the deal. There’s a hard cap of 25 players per recruiting class, and you don’t get to replace them even if, say, five sophomores from the Class of 2018 enter the portal. You’re just down from 85 scholarships to 80. That’s tough.

A far more frustrating complication to this, coaches say, is when you do lose players to the portal, you don’t have room to replace them. This has emerged as a popular topic of discussion and consternation in conference coaches’ meetings in recent weeks, as coaches who have lost a lot of players this offseason come to realize it may take them years to get back to the 85-man scholarship limit. Edwards says the Sun Devils’ scholarship count is currently in the “low 70s,” and he’ll need two years to make it up. [The Athletic]

“… You don’t know who could go on the portal at a later date, and then what you’re looking for,” added Gundy. “Essentially shooting at a moving target is about what it’s like. You’re trying to guesstimate, but you also don’t want to overstep your boundaries and extend yourself and then not have the spots and have to make a call to them and say, ‘I thought we had a spot, but we don’t.’

“That’s not a good situation to be in either, not that it can’t happen, but we try to do things the right way here. That’s not the right way to do business. You’re just kinda reaching and grasping and doing the best you can based on the situation. They could solve the problem just giving you a portal out, a portal in. That solves the problem. It’s real simple.”

It gets more complicated when you have players also potentially declaring for the NFL Draft, like Gundy’s star tailback, Chuba Hubbard.

“Well that’s the game you play, right? You have the early signing day, today, which is a really good thing,” said Gundy. “Then you have to weigh the checks and balances of the portal, which is an issue, players going out early to the NFL, which is an issue, and then medical scholarships, which is an issue.

“So, there is no answer because we don’t know. There will still be players at most of the division one schools, after January and/or after spring ball that could jump on the portal. Those numbers are difficult to balance. That’s why I’ve continued to say that the NCAA has created a void right now, and until they allow us to replace portal athletes, there’s gonna be an issue. But we’re doing the best we can now based on the tools that have been given to us.”

That’s a lot of #math. And it’s part of the reason programs are spending loads of cash in the recruiting arena. One, marketing and showing off for potential prospects. Two, to keep everything straight and balance the books.

Regardless, it’s Portal SZN, and maybe OSU can use that to its advantage after Grayson Boomer, Jahmyl Jeter, Kyle Junior, JayVeon Cardwell, Kris McCune, Xavier Player and Blake Barron all entered. In the same way that OSU hoops has often been a refuge for castaway stars (JamesOn was the best player on the court during that 3OT game with KD GO WATCH THE TAPE!), maybe OSU football can become that as well.

Maybe they’ll have to to keep pace with the rest of the Big 12.

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