Josh Portis is making a huge mistake if he goes along with "Mommy Dearest" and her plan to have him transfer from UF at the end of the semester. After playing sparingly in 2005, he will not play at all in 2006 if he stays at the Division-I level. That means he will have played almost no competitive football from December of 2004 until September of 2007. That's no way to improve.
Tough Year Poorly Handled
I don't blame the Portis family for being disappointed in his handling during year one in Orange and Blue. There's no denying Portis was poorly handled throughout the season. After showing great potential in the spring game, Portis moved to the number two spot on the Florida depth chart. Through the fall we kept hearing about how there were plans to get Josh meaningful playing time each week. But it never happened. We kept seeing opportunities to get him playing time during the season go by the boards. And even in Florida's drubbing of FSU, #4 never left the sideline. He used a year of eligibility for about a day's worth of experience.
Even on the rare occasions that Portis did get on the field, everyone in the building knew what was coming. He didn't get to throw the ball after the pre-season games and never go to really run the Florida offense. It was quarterback keeper, or handoff. That can be extremely frustrating especially for a young player who keeps seeing in the paper, reading on the internet and hearing on the talk shows how he's a better fit for the offense.
This isn't a case of the offense being great, either. While Florida struggled through the middle of the season, much thought was given to shaking things up even for a series or two. Thought? yes. Action? No.
Time to Step Back, Mom
It doesn't help matters that Portis' mom, Patricia is smack dab in the middle of all this. That she, not Josh, is being quoted extensively about the decision and the reasons behind it is not what ought to be the case. We hear all the time about little league dads who live vicariously through their kids and get too intensely involved. Well the same is obviously true about football moms. There comes a time when a parent needs to step aside and let the relationship between the coach and kid develop unimpeded.
I've seen some great parents maintain their distance and bite their tongues (figuratively, I'm sure) while their kids competed at UF. Sure, there were plenty of times that Randy Scott or Lee McGriff or Paul Doering or countless others might have wanted to call the coach and go to bat for their son, but they didn't. College is too late in the game for a parent to intervene as far as I'm concerned.
My daughters did not play competitive athletics but like all kids they had their troubles and issues in school. I would go to bat for my girls when they were in elementary school and I would take them with me for meetings regarding middle school-type issues. But come high school, they had to talk out their problems with their teachers themselves. I cannot imagine calling a college professor to complain about a grade my child got on a paper. I don't believe parents should be calling coaches about playing time.
Transfer Rules Grossly Unfair
I have long felt the NCAA needed to change its disgraceful rules regarding transferring student-athletes. If Urban Meyer didn't have to sit out a year in order to transfer from Utah to Florida, how on earth can anyone with a brain justify forcing a 19-year-old to sit out a year in order to change schools? I don't buy the argument that schools would keep recruiting your players because there are rules in place to deal with that. Besides, just because there are dishonest coaches, why should there be rules limiting the freedom of the student-athlete? That just doesn't make sense. I suggest a simpler, fairer transfer policy for collegiate student-athletes.
1. A student-athlete is allowed one free transfer in his/her career: By this I mean one time you get to change schools without sitting out a year. Your original school will have to sign off on the request and will be allowed to place restrictions on it. For example, Florida may decide to not release someone for immediate eligibility at FSU or another SEC school. The student-athlete can then make a value judgment whether or not to sit out or go elsewhere.
2. A student-athlete may only transfer during the "summer": No more mid-semester transfers with eligibility starting up in mid school year. You transfer between school years or not at all. There should be a hardship application process for the waiver of this limitation, but you should not have kids playing for one school in December and then practicing with or playing for another in January.
3. No school may accept more than six free transfers a year: You don't want to see schools become havens for malcontents, so this rules takes care of that. You could use any number, but I chose six. You can accept three male and three female student-athletes in a year, but no more than one per sport. This will limit the potential for meddling and make schools accepting transfers be very judicious in the process.
4. No Third School, ever: You get one chance to make a change so you better make the most of it. You change again and you are ineligible for competition permanently. This will force the student-athlete to be very careful about the decision to transfer and the school he or she chooses.
5. "Tampering" will be treated as a major violation: To strengthen the rules, major sanctions must apply to the school and the school official involved if tampering is ever proven to have taken place. Schools will be encouraged to report any suspicions they have about a school contacting one of their kids.
6. Any conference that passes rules that are more restrictive must apply those restrictions to coaches and administrators: Put up or shut up. If it's a bad thing for someone to play at Mississippi State one year and Florida the next. Then it sure ought to be a bad thing to allow someone to coach the Bulldogs this year and the Gators the next. Right?
Six rules that all fit on one sheet of paper and we finally have some fairness in the NCAA guidelines for changing schools.