MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The transfer portal is impacting programs in all sports at all colleges and universities across the country.
Not just at the Division I level, but at all levels of collegiate athletics.
Managing a roster, from the sense of a coach knowing what players he or she has on their roster from one day to the next, is different now than it ever has been.
Two days removed from Akheem Mesidor announcing his decision to transfer, West Virginia football head coach Neal Brown was asked for his thoughts on roster management.
Brown remains adamant that he is not against the transfer portal, but stated that there should be boundaries.
“We have free agency. And it’s 365, 24/7,” the head coach said. “Well, there’s no other enterprise that has free agency 365, 24/7. So, that’s what it is. It’s free agency. So, we got to have some time frames around the free agency.”
Brown acknowledged that coaches in other sports, such as basketball, have been forced to build rosters on a year-by-year basis dating back further than football coaches have. While not on the same scale, he sees some of the same trends in his sport now.
“Obviously you’re not going to turn over a complete roster in football, like you can in basketball, but there’s going to be a certain piece of that where you’re building for each season rather than the length of a career.”
With that being the case, and the state of college athletics being what it is, Brown said it forces him and coaches alike to reassess their thoughts on redshirting players.
“And you have to be more conscious, more intentional, about playing guys earlier, and finding roles for them,” he said.
So, with the state of college athletics being what it is, how are coaches supposed to approach building a roster, and attempt at keeping that roster in tact?
Brown offers his way of doing things.
“I think the best way to go about it is, you pour into kids. Right? You pour into them, and you give them everything that you can possibly give them from a personal investment, from surround them with infrastructure, and I still believe that’s the right way to do it. That’s the way we’ve been doing it. That’s the way we’ll continue to do it. And there’s going to be instances in the world we live in in college football now where you’re going to do everything you can for certain individuals, and they’re still going to leave.”
Brown acknowledged that each situation surrounding an athlete that decides to transfer from his or her school is different.
In some cases, it’s in the best interest of both sides to part ways. In other cases, the athlete’s role isn’t what they dreamt it would be, and they believe it calls for a change of scenery.
There are other cases, however, where the departure of a student-athlete is more shocking.
With the latest announcement of a key defensive player exiting the program, the head coach said he took some time to self-evaluate his philosophy over the past couple of days.
“What you sit there and think is, you go, ‘We’re doing all this. Is it worth it?’ And it’s absolutely, yes it’s worth it,” said Brown. “And that’s what I said. We’re going to have a lot more success stories than we do where you really hurt when people that you grow and develop leave. There’s still going to be a lot more success stories.”
Asked directly, the fourth-year Mountaineer head coach said that there is not a culture problem within the program.
“We’re going to continue, not only me personally but our coaching staff, and our entire support services,” said Brown. “We’re going to pour into these guys and give them everything we got. And if we do that, there’s going to be a lot more success stories.”