football Edit

Brown On The Prongs Of A One-Time Transfer Rule

UNC football coach Mack Brown sees some positives and concerns about a one-time transfer rule that could soon be passed.
UNC football coach Mack Brown sees some positives and concerns about a one-time transfer rule that could soon be passed. (Jenna Miller, THI)

CHAPEL HILL – The ACC put out a statement on Feb. 17 showing support for a one-time transfer rule, becoming the second Power 5 league to do so.

The shifting landscape of the sport means coaching staffs re regularly adjusting, and if this rule becomes a reality it will stress most every program in some capacity, as easier paths for players to leave one school and find a home elsewhere will mean more roster shuffling as seasons near.

The ACC’s statement:

“During the league’s annual winter meetings (February 12-14) the ACC discussed the transfer environment and unanimously concluded that as a matter of principle we support a one-time transfer opportunity for all student-athletes regardless of sport. As a conference, we look forward to continuing the discussion nationally.”
— - ACC Statement

Many coaches don’t fully understand the nuances of a one-time transfer rule, in part because it hasn’t yet been adopted, so there’s no fine print to absorb. Nor do they have a solid understanding of how it will affect everything from recruiting to managing every element of a roster.

Regardless of whatever ends up in the details if this indeed passes, North Carolina Coach Mack Brown sees positives from student-athletes having more freedom.

“The thing I would say, and especially at my age and my experience is that and, and (UNC Director of Athletics) Bubba (Cunningham) feels this way, (UNC basketball coach) Roy (Williams) feels this way: We want whatever’s best for the student athlete, period,” Brown said. “I mean, the more money you can give them, the more space you can give them, the more freedom you can give them good for them.”

There’s a flipside, though.

“And at the same time, you don’t want the message to be that ‘if I’m having trouble starting, I quit and transfer right quick,’” Brown said. “So that’s the negative. The negative is that in the past there were restrictions that that wouldn’t allow you to think about quitting. And, and that’s pretty easy to get out.”

The effects on programs is hard to quantify until the rule is in place, but Brown said it will increase challenges with some things that aren’t nearly as difficult to deal with under the current rules.

Brown supports athletes having more of everything.
Brown supports athletes having more of everything. (Jenna Miller, THI)

“I think it changes the mentality of the head coach,” he said. “And that’s okay if it’s best for the guys. But number one, roster management becomes tougher. You could have three running backs leaving in June with a one-time transfer rule and not have any backs and they could just decide to leave. Or if their coach now leaves, you could be tied to the coach and leave with him and there would be basically no restrictions.

“So, from a head coach’s standpoint, you’ve got to look at management of your roster and, and, and how do you do that?”

Brown and his staff have made it a priority to bring in athletes who want the whole UNC experience, not just on the gridiron. They recruit kids they believe will fit the school's and program's cultures.

Not all football players are made for every school. So, the mission is to get guys that are less likely to dine and dash, so to speak.

“How do you keep a lot of guys from being in the transfer portal,” Brown rhetorically asked. “I think the way we do it is what we’re all going to have to start doing. If you have an opportunity like us where you’ve got players around you, you’re going to have to get guys that love your place.

“We’re going to have to get guys that want a degree from the University of North Carolina, so they won’t readily just pick up and leave the first time they get mad.”

Brown says a key in players not leaving is keeping them close to home.
Brown says a key in players not leaving is keeping them close to home. (Jacob Turner, THI)

Part of this means having a high degree of success in the Tar Heels’ laid out recruiting footprint from the Washington, D.C, area north to Jacksonville, FL, south. Athletes from D.C. and Jacksonville can get short flights to the Research Triangle and the drives aren’t much longer: Four hours from the nation’s capital and six hours from northern Florida.

The closer athletes are to their families, friends, high school coaches and communities, the less likely they are prone to transfer.

But when it comes down to it, most kids leave because they aren’t playing enough. Brown understands this and says coaches must be aware of finding ways to keep players happy.

“It’s the other reason that I’m passionate about depth,” he said. “If they’re playing, they’re not going to leave near as quickly.”

The one-time transfer rule isn’t in place yet, but it’s likely coming. And when it arrives, Brown and his staff have a plan in place that will help them best deal with this next change to the sport’s landscape.