College Football’s Transfer Portal Window

For many in our industry, December 5th marked the biggest day of the year. Assuredly, it’s considered the most impactful, relative to team and individual success next college football season. It’s the transfer portal.

On December 5th, the newly established transfer portal window was opened. This allowed players at the NCAA D-I FBS level to openly announce their intention to transfer schools. With no repercussions. 

Last academic year, there were just shy of 2,000 FBS student-athletes who transferred. With the new rules in place, this number is expected to rise. The Athletic’s senior college football writer, Max Olson, wrote about the impact that the first window opening would have on college football staffers: 

“Some are legitimately excited to find out which players are going on the transfer market. Some are cautiously optimistic that they’ve done their homework and have a good plan in place. And many more are predicting absolute chaos,” said Olson.

At Signing Day Sports, we encourage all athletes to make the best decisions for themselves. Now, with chaos having already ensued, The Wire is tasked with educating prospective student-athletes, their parents, collegiate athletes interested in transferring, as well as the general public on what the updated transfer portal means to you. 

The Transfer Portal Window

As recently written in The Wire, the NCAA adopted new rules surrounding the regulation of transfers in college football in August. The reason for this has to do with complaints stemming from head coaches and those tasked with roster management. 

Head coaches were frustrated that they were constantly susceptible to losing a roster player at any point during their season. It made their jobs all that much more difficult dealing with the likelihood of this happening. 

This frustration has persisted for years. Last academic year, the NCAA tried implementing a deadline for student-athletes to announce their intention to transfer – however, this deadline was circumvented. 

With the August rule changes, there are now specifically designated windows of time throughout the calendar year wherein a player is allowed to transfer. All in all, there will be 60 days throughout the year where a player will be allowed to put their name in the portal and potentially transfer schools. 

The first window opened on the daunted eve of December 5th and will remain open until January 18th. The second window runs from May 1st to May 15th. To be clear, student-athletes don’t need to commit to a new school during this window, they merely need to announce their intentions to do so by entering their name into the portal. 

Also, in the interest of full disclosure and educating our readers, there are a few exceptions to the rules regarding the windows. If you are a graduate interested in transferring, you can do so at any time, without considering these windows. Or, if the head coach at the program you are currently enrolled at, or committed to leaves, you will be granted an extra 30 days to decide whether or not you will be on the move. 

Clearly, there will be some positive, and some negative consequences of these new rules. For example, coaches will be more easily able to manage their rosters as a result of the windows. This will lead to a clearer idea on scholarship availability for all. 

On the other hand, it’s seemingly impossible for certain staff to take on the task of handling these few weeks that used to be spread over the whole year. 

“(Recruiters) need to be ready to evaluate, contact and offer a player as quickly as possible once that name pops up in the portal. The best players in the portal are going to get absolutely blitzed by these coaches within minutes of going in. These recruitments are ultra-competitive and fast-moving, with coaches and staffers trying to get players booked for official visits as quickly as they can,” said Olson. 

Certain programs won’t have the manpower to be able to operate within these new norms. 

Flipping Players

The Wire also briefly touched on this topic recently. As a refresher, it’s important to note that college football head coaches are nothing if not adaptable. With the new rules in place, and transferring being more widely accepted now, coaches have started to dig deeper into the rule book to give themselves advantages. 

We are seeing this play out in many programs over the country. Recently, USC’s Lincoln Riley used an uncovered NCAA rule that allows first year coaches to essentially kick student-athletes off of the team – no questions asked. Of course, now, Deion Sanders seems to be employing the same method, but to a greater degree. 

Deion Sanders


The point of all of this, is to say that student-athletes are on the move. They are on the move at a higher rate than ever seen before. This can lead to opportunities quickly drying up at any given school, or the opposite. 

The more you understand about how willing and able student-athletes are to transfer, or coaches are to fully flip a roster within one year, you will be better off. The better informed you can be about player movement and scholarship availability, the better decision you will be able to make for yourself. 

How Does NIL Affect Transfers’ Decisions?

Many, many factors are at play for why student-athletes decide to transfer. While we can’t possibly know all of them, NIL deals are one that we can pencil in as a major factor. 

The bigger, more commercially successful programs will be able to play this card, while smaller schools (and even mid-level ones) will be forced to find ways to close the gap. Consider the following scenarios and how these student-athletes may feel inclined to transfer, or at least test the waters:

  • A player is offered a lucrative NIL deal to sign with a certain school only to end up regretting their decision due to poor team or individual results. 
  • A player who is offered a certain amount on an NIL deal if they were to sign somewhere, which then turns out to be less than expected.
  • A player who was not offered any NIL money at all during initial recruitment, but has played well enough to garner interest from schools who would be able to offer them money,

All of these hypothetical student-athletes are bound to feel the pull of NIL deals. It’s not speculation, it’s happening before our eyes. 

All in all, student-athletes should be encouraged with these developments. They are being granted more and more power with each passing season. Whether this power is over their ability to transfer schools or profit from their own NIL, they are taking full advantage. 

Our readers, who are current collegiate athletes, future ones, or their parents, need to be aware of what’s happening. If you don’t keep up, it can be easy to fall behind or lose out on opportunities.

(Top Photo of Caleb WIlliams by Yannick Peterhans)

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