What will the 2023 transfer portal cycle look like when the FBS window opens on December 5th? One Pac-12 staff member perhaps summed it up best: “This will make December 5th the most important day on the college football calendar.”
With a window looming on the horizon, we asked this exact question (and many more) to more than a dozen FBS players and recruiters to preview what promises to be an off-season blockbuster for an overloaded version of college football free rein. As one person in the know told me this week, “There are some players who are happy with their school and decide to enroll just to see what kind of NIL package they can get.” We’ve seen plenty of examples of this latest cycle, but this time we’re expecting even more.
Adding to the chaos are some significant rule changes that will affect how this loop works. Schools are no longer limited to signing only 25 starter tokens per cycle. This means that programs can aggressively revise their listings to sign up for the 85 scholarship cap. Many across the country believe that this will lead to players being excluded from the rosters. The NCAA also passed a rule requiring schools to retain scholarship transfer athletes until they complete their qualifying hours or until they earn a bachelor’s degree. This means there is more risk than ever when transferring to an undergraduate degree because they are stuck on the list no matter what.
This is the first cycle with transfer portal windows that will run from December 5th to January 18th for FBS with another period from April 15th to April 30th. Players can no longer enter the portal whenever they want, although there are always exceptions to the rule. These rules do not apply to the transfers of graduates and players whose head coaches have left the program, so the athletes have already begun to enter the portal.
How do schools feel about these rule changes? How widespread is interference in the NIL era? Let’s dive into what you can expect from the portal in the coming months.
Note. 247Sports has spoken to at least one staff member from every FBS conference. They will be honored based on their conference history.
1. How would you describe your or your school’s transfer portal strategy?
ACC: “The general theory for me is… if he is in your 2, it should be automatic. Because no matter what, you’re improving the top half of the list.”
AAS: “It all starts with understanding what your conveyor is. As a major metropolitan school, a place with heavy talent traffic, we must mine every player that has come out of this city and state, working our way through the college level for P5, G5 and FCS.”
AAS 2: “Our strategy has always been to recruit high-level kids that we either recruited from high school or with whom we have some kind of connection. It won’t change for us.”
Big 12 1: “Preparation is key.”
Big Ten: “Our strategy is probably less aggressive than most. We are looking for the best players on the portal, guys who could be drafted. We prioritize the culture of keeping our guys that the teams will try to poach, over bringing in new players.”
C-USA 1: “That’s right. Don’t miss it. Who cares if it’s the most luxurious or the sexiest? Give me the kids who played ball somewhere. Some of these top kids from the top schools on the portal don’t have that dog in theirs or they would have played.”
POPPY: “We need to have an existing relationship with a coach either in high school or college in order to get information about a child or have a previous relationship with a child. Last season, we tried to download JUCO in the middle of the school year, as we felt that more schools would appear on the portal. And although these guys helped us, we had a better chance of getting in with our guys from the portal.”
M-West: “We are major buyers and sellers. I believe that any team that goes through a transitional phase [need] its use. And if not, then you’re a little behind.”
Pak-12: “Goes with everything.”
SEC 1: “We’re missing a board here and we’re getting a player who can step in immediately and make a difference.”
SEC 2: “Know, but wait and see.”
Solar belt: “Allows you to address immediate needs – you need to approach the portal, junior college and high school recruitment the same way. Balance everyone according to your lineup and find the players in each area that will give you the best chance of winning.”
2. How do you think the transfer windows will affect the Portal cycle the most this year?
AAS 1: “Teams will not be able to play Follow the Leader. You can call it the era of non-wire service and the era of freedom of action. … You can wait a couple of days, see how many schools offer them, and then offer them. I would say that more than half of the country did it. … Now, with windows, these kids have two weeks to enroll if they enroll in the middle of the year. The best will know where they’re going.”
AAS 2: “I think it will be interesting to see how it affects the bowl games. One thing that a lot of people haven’t thought of is that now that there is a transfer portal window, this will encourage players who enter the portal to do so before playing the higher speed bowl. We could see roster depletion for bowl games at an all-time high.”
Big Ten 1: “It will make it harder for schools to keep track of all the guys applying at the same time. But I think that this will only increase the number of falsifications. Schools are getting ready because they know they have to evaluate the whole country before entering the portal. One would hope that players would make more informed decisions because they have more time before they enter the portal, but I am skeptical about that.”
Big Ten 2: “I think that this will lead and has already led to an increase in falsification. But that said, I think we’ve seen fewer players drop out than last year, leaving a few weeks before the end of the season so they can get their names. on the portal. I also think that the spring will be very productive. I think that fewer children will leave in February and March than last year.”
C-USA 1:”Everything will just rush. In my opinion, it’s crazy to let the FBS portal open just 17 days before signing day. The guy has his final exams, you have to send him to campus, he needs to evaluate the transcript, you have to try to find him a place to live. This is silly. It’s so rushed. You cannot build a relationship with a child in 17 days. These things take time.”
C-USA 2: “I’m curious to know: when December 5 comes, will we receive advance notice? Or has December 5 already arrived and there are already 10,000 children on the portal? We are trying to understand whether it will benefit us or not.”
Solar belt: “That will speed things up even more. You won’t have nearly as much time to define and carefully evaluate what kids can learn on campus. Which, of course, gives an advantage to larger states and recruiting departments. The labor force will be at a premium.”
SEC 1: “Over the last year or so, it has become difficult to manage the number of players. When you know and can prepare for a certain moment when this will happen, it helps. I think it was designed, a little, to eliminate some of the ongoing interference that will never completely go away. But I think it helps to control him a little.”
3. More than 3,000 FBS translations were completed in the last cycle. What number do you expect this year?
ACC: “I’m not sure it will be that high. I bet most of the transfers that were handed over to Power Five didn’t stay with Power Five. NIL is such a complex space right now. That also plays a role.”
AAS 1: “I think you will get a very similar number. You will start to see more guys in the draft because we have sixth and seventh year graduates now. We have a year and a half left before the normalization of the situation with COVID. The further we get away from 2020, the fewer and fewer numbers we see as lineups normalize.”
AAS 2: “3500 plus”.
Big Ten 1: “If there were 3,000 last year, then the total number of players who can transfer is probably less because they cannot transfer more than once. At the same time, it seems like the NCAA will drop anything, no matter what the rule says. The more it normalizes, the more guys will do it when they think about it. The more it gets out that the FCS and G-5 guys are moving up and making it big, the more guys will get hooked on it.”
C-USA 2: “There will always be unhappy players. And if you give them the ability to jump, that’s the culture we live in. The kids will do it.”
POPPY: “I expect the number to rise slightly again. Not sure how much more that number can realistically increase. That’s about 20% of all FBS players.”
M-West: “I think it will probably be about the same. It will just be much more concentrated.”
Solar belt: “The number has gone up each of the last 3 years, at this point I’d be surprised if it didn’t continue.”
4. With the 25 player limit removed for this cycle and teams can register up to 85 athletes, do you expect schools to use the portal more to change their rosters?
ACC: “I don’t think you’re going to have too many coaches pushing people out (in December). I think it will happen after spring…