Jim Gazzolo column: Christmas shopping the portal

Published 3:00 pm Thursday, December 1, 2022

’Tis the season to enter the portal, fa la la la la, la la la la.

Find a new home if you’re unhappy, fa la la la la, la la la la.

Well it is that time of year, when young football players disappointed with their surroundings head off to new adventures by way of the NCAA transfer portal.

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Most won’t even tell their coaches they are leaving, instead turning to the world of social media to make their announcements.

Others will elect not to play in bowl games, saving their skills for the next level while leaving fans scratching their heads.

This is the new business model in the profession that is college athletics. Labor has wrestled away the upper hand and now control the markets.

Meanwhile, fans will go crazy trying to figure out who is staying and who is going elsewhere.

McNeese State is no exception when it comes to losing players to the transfer portal world.

Cowboys head coach Gary Goff has said you first have to re-recruit your own players before you know exactly what you have to go get in the offseason.

Already a few McNeese players have entered the portal and made their announcements public. Even more nationally have done the same, turning it into a buffet line for coaches to pick from.

It’s just another addition of stress for the college football fan during the holiday season.

Fact of the matter is this will continue until the rules are changed so get used to it. Not one player makes a team and not one player leaving can destroy one either, so at least there is that to calm your nerves.

What matters is establishing a place where players feel like they belong, a place where they are comfortable and can get the most out of their talents.

When folks talk about the big names entering the portal they are mentioning the Power Five schools or Football Bowl Subdivision programs.

That’s where players move from one major program to another looking for the right place to showcase their skills.

On McNeese’s level it is different. Football Championship Subdivision schools are often finding players who either could not find enough playing time or became unhappy at big places and want a chance to play.

Some are looking to make a quick name so they can maybe showcase their skills for the big schools once again. Others are hoping for one big last year when a title run can lead to perhaps a chance at a professional career.

As we saw last season not all transfers work out. Schools need to be selective, find the right fit that will help add to their culture, not highjack it.

Nobody wants to find out the big package under the tree is nothing more than a fruitcake.

So note to all college coaches: shop wisely.

Jim Gazzolo is a freelance writer who covers McNeese State athletics for the American Press. Email him at jimgazzolo@yahoo.com