How transferring as players shaped the views of college football coaches today
Matt Fortuna (The Athletic) — Hundreds of players have entered the transfer portal since its birth on Oct. 15, 2018, as shown by 247Sports’ tracker. Though the math for schools and roster spots has often not added up, and though the reasons for transferring have varied from player to player, it is important to remember that the act of leaving one school for another is nothing novel.
Just ask many of the coaches who are adding and losing these players.
Of the nation’s 65 Power 5 head coaches, 61 played at least one year of football in college. Of those 61 coaches, 15 became transfers themselves, which means that 24.59 percent of the leaders at the highest college level who played in college know a thing or two about moving around.
So, who better to speak on the good and the bad of transferring? The Athletic got each of the 15 coaches’ thoughts on why they transferred and how they view it now, with the hope of offering a glimpse into the mind of why one transfers and how best to handle transferring players in today’s climate.
The 15 coaches: Jimbo Fisher (A&M), Justin Fuente (VT), Clay Helton (USC), Pat Narduzzi (PITT), Bronco Mendenhall (VA), Gary Patterson (TCU), Chris Petersen (UW), Mack Brown (UNC), Herm Edwards (ASU), Matt Campbell (IA ST), Scott Frost (NEB), Ed Orgeron (LSU), Jeremy Pruitt (TENN), Neal Brown (WV), Gus Malzahn (AUB)
Clay Helton, USC
His schools: Auburn (1990-92), Houston (1993-94) Helton was a backup quarterback at both Auburn and Houston and graduated from Houston in 1994 with a degree in mathematics and interdisciplinary science. At Houston, Helton completed 47 of 87 passes for 420 yds, one TD, and four picks in 16 games.
His situation: Pat Dye stepped down as Auburn’s head coach following the 1992 season amid an NCAA investigation. Helton’s father, Kim, had just been hired as Houston’s head coach, and with transfer restrictions lifted, Helton came aboard.
“My dad asked me to come play for him,” Helton said. “I’ve never said no to my dad, ever.”
Helton called the move one of the greatest experiences of his life.
“It was the transition of a guy that was like a second father to me in Pat Dye, to my dad,” he said.
How it influences his view on today: “Probably the thing that’s helped me the most is watching my father coach; my dad was a 40-year NFL and college coach, and not only watching but playing for him, I realized how important relationships and trust are,” Helton said. “And going into the transfer portal world, I thought relationships were going to be critical; 18-to-21-year-olds are trying to figure out what they want to do in life, and as a coach I think you can have patience and you can give the greatest gift, which is your time, to help them through the process.
“There’s some that get their education, they graduate and they’re looking for a larger role, and I support them in that. And all I ask them is to make sure that they have their degree. And then there’s young men that have different stories that need some time to figure it out for themselves, and I’m willing to give them that time to be able to figure it out.”
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