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How recent Georgia football transfers show how flawed the NCAA transfer process is
Luke Ford won’t be playing football this coming season. The former Georgia tight end had his NCAA waiver appeal denied, meaning instead of suiting up for Illinois this fall, he will be sitting out for the entire season.
Traditionally, this has been how transfers have been handled. The problem is that in the past year, it seemed the NCAA had been changing its tune when it came to these types of decisions.
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Last summer, Demetris Robertson was granted immediate eligibility when he transferred from Cal to Georgia. It was a move closer to home for Robertson, who comes from the Savannah area. The situation isn’t all that dissimilar than what Ford did. Yet Robertson was given the ability to play right away, while Ford wasn’t.
Then there’s the Justin Fields decision, which makes the Ford ruling even more confounding. Fields transferred from Georgia to Ohio State. Part of the reason he left was that he was not going to be the starting quarterback at Georgia, and Ohio State offered an opportunity to more playing time. The NCAA made the decision to grant his waiver and deem him eligible for the 2019 season.
It’s the lack of consistency that makes the whole situation so maddening at this point. If Robertson, Fields and now Miami quarterback Tate Martell all had their waivers denied, I’d understand. I personally wouldn’t agree with the decision but can at least understand.
DawgNation’s Mike Griffith caught up with former Georgia legend David Pollack, who voiced similar concerns on the NCAA’s inconsistency.
“Fields versus Luke Ford, guys that were at Georgia, what determines who gets it (immediate eligibility)?” Pollack said. “Somebody’s family is sick (Ford’s grandfather), or somebody has a reason to go back home and they get a ‘no,’ and somebody else that doesn’t really have a reason gets a ‘yes.’ That drives you nuts for the kids.
“Some people get waivers, some people don’t, and it makes absolutely no sense.”
Many see the transfer portal as a new way to open up free agency in college football. It’s certainly a fear elite programs have, and it is something Kirby Smart has spoken about many times in recent months.
“I don’t know that it is right for college football,” Smart said back in April. “It may be good on an individual basis. But when you give kids an easy way out sometimes, sometimes they take the path of least resistance. People can say ‘well, coach, you are free to go wherever you want to go,’ we also have a contract and they are free to fire us anytime they want. So they can fire us anytime they want as an assistant coach.”
Smart has since added that the idea of entering the transfer portal at the first sign of trouble is seen as possibly taking the easy way out. It isn’t always that simple, but with the Ford decision, it now seems that transferring out isn’t just going to be some easy decision at all.
The Ford decision doesn’t mean that all future transfer players will have their eligibility denied. Just like the Fields and Martell decisions didn’t mean that all waivers would be granted. What the NCAA’s ruling actually shows is that there’s no rhyme or reason to its decision-making process.
The NCAA deliberately keeps the hearing process behind closed doors so that the general population doesn’t know what was said by either party. It’s why we’ll never know exactly what was said by Fields and company to gain eligibility. But it’s also the reason that the NCAA can keep kids second guessing on whether or not they should pursue a transfer in the first place.
Ford’s case seemed like an easy lay-up, especially when you compare it to that of Fields and Martell. But the NCAA —as only the NCAA can — swatted it into the stands, where Ford will now be sitting for the entire 2019 season.
Laying out the roadmap to Georgia having the No. 1 pick in the NBA, MLB and NFL Drafts
Georgia has had just one No. 1 overall pick in recent memory, as the Detroit Lions took Matthew Stafford with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.
But in 2020, there’s a realistic chance that Georgia has the No. 1 overall pick all three drafts.
Over the weekend, we took a deeper look at the chances Georgia could produce the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the 2020 NBA Draft and the 2020 MLB Draft.
For the NFL, quarterback Jake Fromm seems like the most likely candidate, given how much quarterbacks seem to be valued. Offensive tackle Andrew Thomas also might have a case, if he shines this year for the Bulldogs.
For basketball, Anthony Edwards has already been mentioned as one of the top picks for next year’s NBA draft. A strong season for him at Georgia — which he fully intends on having — could very easily make him the first pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.
As for baseball, pitcher Emerson Hancock was tabbed as the No. 1 overall pick for the 2020 MLB Draft by Baseball America. But the publication also mentioned fellow Georgia pitcher Cole Wilcox as a top-10 pick. Like football, there’s a real possibility that Georgia has two top-10 picks in the upcoming draft.
Should Hancock, Wilcox or Edwards go as the No. 1 overall pick, it would be the first time that either Georgia sport has produced a No. 1 overall pick. As for Fromm, it’s hard to come up with a more different comparison than Stafford, given how the two play the quarterback position.
No school has ever produced the No. 1 overall pick in all three sports. Utah in 2005 — with Alex Smith playing football and Andrew Bogut playing basketball — is the only sch0ol to produce two No. 1 overall picks in the same year.
Best Georgia football stories from around DawgNation
- Would you put David Pollack on your UGA version of Mount Rushmore?
- Georgia football legend David Pollack goes off on NCAA transfer inconsistencies
- How the University of Georgia could realistically have the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL, NBA and MLB Drafts
- Georgia football podcast: UGA fans will get a laugh from latest Florida recruiting news
- Georgia football looks north, south and east for more ‘havoc’
- Why Eric Stokes is going to be a nationally known name by the end of 2019
- Georgia’s rapidly improving linebacker corps features ‘surest tackler in the SEC’
- Charlie Woerner is the most interesting player to watch on Georgia’s 2019 offense
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