Pandora’s Box? ESPN analyst Chris Fowler discusses Justin Fields’ transfer

Georgia football-Justin Fields-Chris Fowler
ESPN analyst Chris Fowler, left, says the NCAA needs to be careful where its transfer policy is concerned.

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Justin Fields transfer from Georgia to Ohio State might not only create a ripple in both conferences, it could create a precedent that leads to unintended consequences for college football, according to Chris Fowler.

The esteemed ESPN analyst told DawgNation in an exclusive interview last Saturday that while the Bulldogs are on solid footing even after losing Fields, college football needs to keep a close eye on how the transfer process plays out.

RELATED: Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence shares thoughts on Justin Fields

“The foundation at Georgia couldn’t be stronger, the resources, the talent pipeline, everything is in place for Georgia to join Bama and Clemson in the small club that battles for supremacy every year, and there’s no reason to think it won’t happen,” Fowler said. “But, losing Fields is not a good thing.

“I’ve never see him practice, so I can’t speak of any expertise at all about his skillset, but what I hear is phenomenal, and I can tell you after having called the Rose Bowl that they they are foaming at the mouth in Columbus at the prospect of having him there.”

Fields is there, and his lawyer expects him to be granted an NCAA waiver for immediate eligibility, according to a Toledo Blade report.

“Unlike the situation with the Ole Miss transfers, the process of obtaining a waiver for Justin isn’t going to drag on for months,” Mars told The Blade, adding he believes a decision by the NCAA will be made by February.

“This is a high priority for Coach [Ryan] Day, and it’s my top priority at the moment. I’m confident the process will move quickly and that the NCAA will be able to make a decision on OSU’s waiver request much sooner than most people might think.”

Fields is expected to play for the hardship waiver on the grounds of a hostile environment after a Sept. 29 football game where a former Georgia baseball player yelled at racial slur in reference to Fields.

Fowler, while not knowing all the particulars of that situation, said the college football transfer situation is delicate.

“I think transfer rules have existed for a reason,” Fowler said. “Most of the rules that people complain about exist because if they weren’t there, they’d be abused wildly, and I don’t know what’s going to shake out in that situation in terms of his eligibility right away, I don’t know the particulars of the case they are making.

“I do think it’s a Pandora’s box, I think you could always go to whatever tribunal exists, and make whatever case you want, to get the result that you desire, but yeah, it is a Pandora’s box if you open that up.”

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey told DawgNation it’s too early for him to draw any conclusions on how the more relaxed transfer rules will affect college football.

“We obviously have gone through in the regulatory approach to transfers with a lot more flexibility,” Sankey said. “It’s so early that I don’t know that I have any observations other than people being attentive to what does it mean educationally, that was one of my fundamental issues when I walked into these transfer matters — are young people making decisions, and are they moving toward graduation and finding the right place for themselves.

Sankey said that the NCAA portal  — which reportedly now includes dismissed Georgia defensive  backs DeAngelo Gibbs and Tray Bishop — is not set up to be transparent.

“I’ve never visited the portal other than reviewing the setup information, (and) I don’t think it was there to be a media point, it was there to allow the maximum communication and understanding,” Sankey said. “I don’t think transparency, but (instead) the kind of information that facilitates a transfer when someone enters that portal, that everyone is on the same plane, they know who is looking to transfer, there’s information that goes back to the original institution on an individuals’ direction, and I think that element has worked.

“I still think we are  going to have to monitor to see the educational, the interpersonal impact of the changes of our transfer rules.”

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney explain his approach to this new era where transferring is becoming more commonplace than ever.

“You have to develop relationships with your players, and be able to articulate a clear vision for each individual,” Swinney said. “Not only what your goal for your team is, but also for them individually, and you have to as a coach create the buy-in into it.

“(But) at the end of the day my job is to recruit the very best player — I’m not trying to recruit backups …. I want to recruit the very best player, year in and year out, and then competition drives everything in your program when you are fair.”

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