Miller: All’s Fair in College Football’s New Free Market

The monetized transfer portal has created early winners and losers but will prove fair over time

Posted on May 27, 2022

  By Dane Miller, SuperWest Sports

Like it or not, the transfer portal has changed College Football. The restrictions that kept players rooted at one school have been relaxed, allowing roster movement that was unheard of just a few seasons ago.

The updated rules provide opportunities for athletes to profit from their Name, Image, and Likeness, turning the system into a laissez-faire model that feels like the Wild West.

The new system is a fair way for players to get the money they deserve in a free market environment that doesn’t confine them to one team.

The old heads cry about how the portal and NIL have somehow changed the sanctity of college football while ignoring the free-market principles that benefit the players themselves.

If businesses, USC donors, or the SC Collective want to pay $3 million dollars to Jordan Addison to become a Trojan, then more power to them.

USC transfer Jordan Addison | Adrian Kraus / Associated Press

There’s nothing wrong with an individual getting paid to play sports for a college team. There’s a demand for those players and a limited supply.

Basic market principles dictate the price of a high-impact athlete like Addison, and wealthy donors and successful businesses are willing to fit the bill.

That’s what free markets do: make people money.

Anyone whining about the new free agency of recruiting can reminisce about the “old days” to a continually thinning crowd. The portal and NIL are here to stay.

Adapt or die.

Regardless of your view on the new system, there’s no denying that college football is in a better position when its players stay in school longer.

The lure of NFL money suddenly becomes less certain, if not less appealing, when an athlete can make comparable amounts by staying in school.

The result keeps top-level talent in college, increasing the quality of the product, and probably creating more parity across the landscape.

Just a week or two ago, Nick Saban snapped at Jimbo Fisher for his recruiting methods at Texas A&M, clearly threatened by the Aggies’ use of NIL money to recruit.

Nobody wants to see Alabama continue to dominate on the recruiting trail and on the field, and the new portal and NIL regulations should help distribute talent to more schools.

If Saban is scared, that’s a good sign.

But the underbelly of any free market system is the losers that correspondingly falter while the winners advance. As the saying goes, “The rich get richer.”

Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher | Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

And those principles are no different in the new age of college football recruiting.

A small town like Boulder and other schools in small markets simply won’t have the capital in place to attract high-impact players. At least not at the start.

The markets in those areas aren’t able to compete with the businesses in major metropolitans like Los Angeles, where a couple of million dollars for an NIL deal is more readily available—and well worth the cost to get an exceptional player on the roster.

That’s why you see schools like USC benefiting and Colorado faltering. It’s a free market where money talks. And it’s awfully quiet in some places.

The good thing is there are plenty of wealthy individuals willing to pay to attract talent. It’s just up to those businesses, donors, and collectives to make the offers and pull the deals together.

So, instead of complaining about other teams’ success in the portal, it’s time to get to work.

Top Beneficiaries of Transfer Portal Gains: USC and Oregon

USC Portal Gains

Jordan AddisonWR
Mekhi BlackmonCB
Terrell BynumWR
Solomon ByrdDL
Jacobe CovingtonCB
Travis DyeRB
Eric GentryLB
Romello HeightLB
Austin JonesRB
Shane LeeLB
Latrell McCutchinCB
Brenden RiceWR
Bryson ShawS
Tyrone TaleniDL
Caleb WilliamsQB
Mario WilliamsWR

Oregon Portal Gains

Caleb ChapmanWR
Chase CotaWR
Christian GonzalezS
Mar'Keise IrvingRB
Bo NixQB
Jordon RileyDL
Casey RogersDL
Sam TaimaniDL
Worst Hit by Transfer Portal Losses: Colorado and Arizona State

Colorado Portal Losses

Mekhi BlackmonCB
Jarek BroussardRB
Christian GonzalezS
Carson LeeOL
Chris MillerCB
Mark PerryS
Brenden RiceWR
Dimitri StanleyWR
Josh WattsP

ASU Portal Losses

Lonyatta AlexanderWR
Jordan BanksDL
LV Bunkley-SheltonWR
Jayden DanielsQB
Ezra Dotson-OyetadeOL
Eric GentryLB
Rodney Groce Jr.LB
Tommi HillCB
Jermayne LoleDL
Spencer LovellOL
Ricky PearsallWR
Chip TrayanumRB/LB
Johnny WilsonWR

—More from Dane Miller—