Story Poster
Photo by Bruce Waterfield/OSU Athletics
Oklahoma State Football

Which Coaches, What Programs Have Done the Best Keeping Players Engaged and Wanted?

June 9, 2021
1,762

STILLWATER – It was earlier today that I had a caller on my radio show on Triple Play Sports Radio ask what I thought of the NCAA Transfer Portal. My answer was not much; I feel it is a way-too-easy opt out for athletes to run away from their problems and their issues. I am a much bigger fan of athletes staying the course. I’ve seen it time after time that eventually things work out. There is also habit it promotes of walking away from adversity rather than taking it on. That could be competition for playing time, academic strife, or relationship issues. Those are all aspects in our lives that can come back later in different forms such as job issues, family and outside relationships, and more.

Ironically, on the day I get that question, I also get a scoreboard of sorts as to which schools are losing the most in the transfer portal. The scoreboard says a lot and confirms a lot about Oklahoma State. In the past eight months-plus, Oklahoma State has lost just eight players in the portal. That puts them tied with Baylor in the Big 12 for the fewest players in the portal.  They are in the top 13 in the Power Five for fewest players going in the portal. 

Number of Players in the Transfer Portal since 10/1/2020

Teams 

26 Tennessee
22 Kansas, Michigan State
20 Mississippi State, Missouri
19 Auburn, Vanderbilt
18 North Carolina 
17 Louisville, Michigan, TCU, West Virginia
16 Maryland, Nebraska, Texas Tech, Washington State
15 Florida State, Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Syracuse, Virginia Tech
14 Arizona, Arkansas, Boston College, Colorado, Kansas State, Rutgers, Texas
13 Penn State, Texas A&M
12 Wake Forest
11 Arizona State, LSU, Oregon, Oregon State, Utah
10 Alabama, Florida, Illinois, Iowa State, North Carolina State
9 California, Duke, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, South Carolina, UCLA, USC, Washington
8 Baylor, Clemson, Iowa, Oklahoma State, Ole Miss
7 Northwestern, Purdue
6 Virginia, Wisconsin
5 Miami (Fla.), Ohio State, Pittsburgh
1 Stanford 

I told the caller that I had just heard Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy tell the campers at The Down and Dirty Linemen Camp that their parents, coaches, and teachers were not their best friends or buddies. Their jobs are to guide, formulate and help produce development and being a buddy isn’t the answer. He told them they would understand better when they were older and saw the other side of it.

Pat Kinnison - Chief Photographer
Gundy has a lot of former players like Zach Crabtree, shown here, that come back and coach or work for him at Oklahoma State.

I constantly hear him tell his players at Oklahoma State, heard him tell them when my son was a player, that he and the staff would be really happy if any of them made it in the NFL, but they would be even happier if they left the OSU program ready to be good citizens and employees, good husbands, and good fathers. He tells them that is what they are working as hard or harder to get done as they are the football.

That could be good lip service, but I’ve been watching this too long to not believe it is a built-in part of the Cowboy culture.

I wonder if the Oklahoma State administration has looked at this. I certainly hope that incoming athletic director Chad Weiberg takes note. This is a big positive. 

Discussion from...

Which Coaches, What Programs Have Done the Best Keeping Players Engaged and Wanted?

1,671 Views | 10 Replies | Last: 1 mo ago by GumbyFromPokeyLand
CaliforniaCowboy
How long do you want to ignore this user?
that's an interesting take on the Portal that I hadn't considered, and frankly am not buying.

the reasons that players choose to move on are way more varied than that, and there is no evidence that their decisions will have any impact at all on their future lives. Those statements don't have any empirical basis.

as for OSU, it could be that we just don't have that good of players, where the kids feel like they don't have a legitimate chance to beat out the guy ahead of them. For example, Jalen Hurts left for better hunting grounds, as did the QB at LSU... I doubt their lives and futures will be impacted for eons.

the data is interesting, but somebody needs to do a better deep dive on it.
GumbyFromPokeyLand
How long do you want to ignore this user?
I agree Robert. Something in our culture results in fewer unhappy campers. We have the same number of athletes competing for playing time as OU, WVU, Alabama, Nebraska, Kansas, TTech, Vandy or Texas - yet consistently have fewer transfers - so the level of competition is not a factor. Players leave for one reason, they think they'll be happier where the grass is greener. A coaching staff with a consistent message and a welcoming environment seems to pay dividends.

I look at it like a business. Companies that do the best job at retaining employees isn't because they pay the most, but because their employees enjoy what they do and who they do it with.
Zach Lancaster
How long do you want to ignore this user?
Staff
Also, if you look at the guys that have transferred out of OSU, it's been mostly walk-ons. There's the exceptions of guys like Jalen McCleskey, Jelani Woods and just a few others, but besides McCleskey and Woods, the transfers haven't been major contributors or factors.
CaliforniaCowboy
How long do you want to ignore this user?
Zach Lancaster said:

Also, if you look at the guys that have transferred out of OSU, it's been mostly walk-ons. There's the exceptions of guys like Jalen McCleskey, Jelani Woods and just a few others, but besides McCleskey and Woods, the transfers haven't been major contributors or factors.
that's just not a very accurate statement.

We had so many QBs bail on us recently that we had to put in a true freshman last year when Sanders went down.

some good RBs too (jeeter, glass - they had not worked into the top spot, but definitely not "walk-ons". It's a long list, and some good players. Definitely not "mostly walk-ons".

The list presented in this thread is only the most recent 8 months (according to the report), and we had eight transfers in that 8 months. Eight seems like a lot, yet it's being portrayed as some institutional cultural thing because some other programs had more than that.

I'd be willing to bet that in OSU's situation, that the youth of the players/team has as much to do with the seemingly low number, as other factors (like culture). OSU had one of the youngest teams, and many of them got to (had to) play early.

Zach Lancaster
How long do you want to ignore this user?
Staff
Glass was a four-star out of high school, but was used so much at Katy he had nothing left in the tank when he got here. He entered the portal back in Oct. and has yet to land anywhere. Jeter was a good back, but not good enough to crack the starting lineup and is now at Texas State. As for the quarterbacks, they were all guys that would've never played. You're right about there being a higher number of scholarship players transfer over the years, but there's a reason these guys weren't on the field or used as much as fans wanted them to be used.
CaliforniaCowboy
How long do you want to ignore this user?
well, of course, but the same statement could be made about many of the players in the portal from many of those other teams.

that's one reason why kids enter the portal, because they are too far down the depth chart (at any school) - but they weren't "mostly walk-ons", which was your allegation.

RA went so far as to claim that kids like the QB that went to ISU to play with his brother (didn't we have a DT do that too, to Nebraska) or any other kid that transfers, would have built more "character" if they had stayed and rode the pine in Stillwater, rather than maybe get 20-30 game reps at some other school. I'm certain that RA believes that, but there is no evidence to support way-out comments like those.

We don't even know how many of those kids in the portal were seniors, grad transfers etc, just looking for one more season of something new (like the new Center we got).

The interesting part about numbers like those (both ours and some of them in the high teens) is the long-term impact that it will have on filling the 85 man roster when you can only bring in 25.

Zach Lancaster
How long do you want to ignore this user?
Staff
I should've specified I was mainly talking about the transfers in the last eight months were mostly walk-ons, not over the the course of the program. Going back and re-reading it, I can see how it was confusing considering I used a guy like McCleskey as an example. I think the impact to the 85 is going to be the most interesting thing to watch moving forward. As Lincoln Riley said a few weeks back, I agree you're going to see more staffs recruiting from the portal more and more each season to replenish depth. So when you can only bring in 25 initials, but you need at least 27 to get back to 85, what's the NCAA going to do to allow schools to do so.
CaliforniaCowboy
How long do you want to ignore this user?
exactly, getting to 85 might be hard for a team like Tennessee who lost 26 to the Portal since October. (maybe most of the Tenn transfers were walk-ons too).

Danny Deck
How long do you want to ignore this user?
Tennessee's defections are pretty brutal.

10 of them were 4 star recruits and many that have since committed to somewhere are going to P5 teams, and some definite upper tier P5 teams like OU and Alabama. So it isn't just that they weren't panning out at Tennessee, I wouldn't think.

The 25 cap can't last much longer. KU asking for changes because they were so far below 85 scholarship players didn't move the needle, but if some of these bigger names start struggling, they'll get a change through.
GumbyFromPokeyLand
How long do you want to ignore this user?
Zach Lancaster said:

I should've specified I was mainly talking about the transfers in the last eight months were mostly walk-ons, not over the the course of the program. Going back and re-reading it, I can see how it was confusing considering I used a guy like McCleskey as an example. I think the impact to the 85 is going to be the most interesting thing to watch moving forward. As Lincoln Riley said a few weeks back, I agree you're going to see more staffs recruiting from the portal more and more each season to replenish depth. So when you can only bring in 25 initials, but you need at least 27 to get back to 85, what's the NCAA going to do to allow schools to do so.



Zach, you and RA are on point - we lose fewer players overall, and vastly fewer contributors or projected contributors than the vast majority of programs. And given the competitive quality of the programs spread throughout the list, you are also correct that culture and environment are clearly factors in retaining more players than unhappiness because of playing time or depth chart concerns that every program deals with equally.

Keep up the good work.
Refresh
Page 1 of 1
 
×
subscribe Verify your student status
See Subscription Benefits
Trial only available to users who have never subscribed or participated in a previous trial.