LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The most interesting thing Larry Brown told me during our basketball conversation this week had nothing to do with Mike Woodson and his chances of succeeding with the Indiana University basketball team.
Brown was more concerned with the health of all college basketball teams because of the Portal Party going on with the potential of more than 1,250 transfers who can leave and enjoy immediate eligibility at their new schools.
Brown’s concern was triggered by this nugget that he shared from a current college coach. Brown told me the name of the coach. I will not identify him because he likely shared the information in confidence. I’m comfortable saying this: The guy won a national championship.
This national championship coach told Brown that the Portal Party had become such a trendy thing to explore that the coach feared he needed to re-recruit every player on his team — a winning team — from the moment the season ended.
Brown asked for my view on this brave new world, where players will apparently be cleared to transfer once without penalty during their college careers.
I’ll tell you the same thing I told Brown:
I don’t like it. It needs a tweak. Players should be required to stay two seasons before earning immediate transfer eligibility.
This new rule creates too much uncertainty. Rewards impulsive behavior. Lets players run from adversity. Drains the value from the meaning of a commitment.
Roster building has become an around-the-clock obsession. Players keep needing to feel the love.
The rule that required players to sit out one season needed to be tweaked. But this is too much.
What’s next? Letting players start the semester at one school and finish the season at another? A waiver wire? Trades?
“I’m glad to hear your say that,” said Brown, who is 80 and a Hall-of-Famer.
I’ll admit that on some topics, like this one, I am hopelessly Old School. My problem is I fell in love with college basketball in the '60s.
The '60s was the UCLA decade. The Bruins won five of 10 NCAA titles.
For me, the '60s was the decade when Lew Alcindor, Dan Issel, Pete Maravich, Rick Mount and Austin Carr played a limited schedule of freshman basketball.
Freshman basketball was good enough for greatest player in the history of the game — Alcindor (who later changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) — but today playing 25 minutes isn’t enough to satisfy a few freshmen who rushed into the transfer portal at season’s end.
Brown agreed. I suspect our Old School sensibilities helped fuel our conversation.
Brown is North Carolina guy, who, like me, remembered that James Worthy and Michael Jordan stayed in Chapel Hill three seasons, and Sam Perkins toughed it out over four years.
A decade later, Grant Hill (Duke) and Tim Duncan (Wake Forest) did the four-year commitment thing, too.
That’s straying slightly off topic. We weren’t talking about guys leaving early for the NBA. Getting paid to play at the highest level of the game is a different topic.
If you have the talent and persistence to make that move, you should be rewarded. If you’re not as ready as you believe you are, you’ll have to live with the consequences.
My problem with the immediate eligibility switch is it is another sign of our immediate gratification society, especially for first-year players.
Players change AAU programs the way they change socks. They change high schools. Now they’re changing colleges.
I believe a better rule would be to allow immediate eligibility for upperclassmen that transfer but not freshmen.
If you chose to transfer after your first season, you sit. You can leave. But you must sit out a year, the way players always have.
With one exception: If your head coach leaves for another job or is fired, you can depart without penalty. Or perhaps start with letting juniors leave with immediate eligibility.
The change in the new rule is too dramatic. It’s guaranteed to lead to incessant recruiting and tampering.
It’s an overreaction to correcting the balance of power in major college sports that has always rested with coaches and programs, not players.
The relationship is changing. With the name/likeness/image legislations, players are on the brink of receiving more than a scholarship for their work as college athletes. It’s all being sorted out, but that will soon be the way of the world.
But this transfer thing smells like too much too soon.
It absolutely has the potential to penalize and harm mid- and low-major schools that invested resources and time in building their programs.
Rosters are a mess. Players are on the prowl for the next great opportunity. Coaches have to protect their roster and keep an eye on the guy across the street.
The circus has come to college basketball. It’s going to be different. But I’m not convinced it will be better.
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