Two years ago, Scott Shafer welcomed graduate transfer Drew Allen to the Syracuse Orange football program from the Oklahoma Sooners. Allen ended up not working out but the message was clear to current SU football players. Don't get comfortable because we're more than happy to bring in a graduate transfer to play right away and compete for your spot.
"It's a little bit like free agency," Shafer said Wednesday. "The only difference is these kids have done a nice job getting their undergraduate degrees, and they're afforded an opportunity to continue to play the game.
"If I had to vote as to whether I liked it or didn't like it, I would say I would probably vote against it and have the kid try to stay at the school he's at and pursue a Master's degree. But I also know part of the intent is that maybe a young man will transfer to a school that has a program that he started to gain interest in and may not be offered at his initial institution.
"There's merit for both sides, but I would rather have the kids finish their graduate work at the school they chose when they were young."
Okay, let's break it all down...
"It's a little bit like free agency."
You mean like how if, say, Ohio State called tomorrow and asked you to take over their football program you could leave at a moment's notice and take that job even though all of these players committed to Syracuse to play for you and are now unable to leave Syracuse if they want to without having to sit out an entire football season, the same football season that you can start coaching in immediately? Like that?
"The only difference is these kids have done a nice job getting their undergraduate degrees, and they're afforded an opportunity to continue to play the game."
So, again, let's extrapolate. We want college athletes to do well in school, right? We want them to commit to their academics and parlay their football abilities into an opportunity to learn a skill off the field, right? That's the point, assuming they don't go on to play professional football, which most of them won't, yes?
So then, why are we then telling those athletes who accomplish that goal that they should then be punished for doing so early? That if they don't have an opportunity to play on their school's football team anymore, that they are essentially just a body on a roster (like Drew Allen at Oklahoma), it's their fault for graduating before their football eligibility is over?
"If I had to vote as to whether I liked it or didn't like it, I would say I would probably vote against it and have the kid try to stay at the school he's at and pursue a Master's degree."
That's not controlling at all, Scott. You committed to play for Syracuse and attend the university for an undergraduate degree. Want to keep playing football in order to improve the possibility you could play football professionally? Well then you better enroll in OUR graduate school. Otherwise you're SOL. Say goodbye to your chosen profession.
Reminds me of a scene in the documentary Control Room in which a group of soldiers about to be discharged are told that in fact they will be failures in the civilian world and their best option will be to just reenlist.
"But I also know part of the intent is that maybe a young man will transfer to a school that has a program that he started to gain interest in and may not be offered at his initial institution."
God forbid we put the student-athlete first. God forbid.
Also, let's say you want to go into broadcast journalism. You attend a school with a bad broadcast journalism program. You see that Syracuse has a great one and also needs help on it's football team. I LOVE the idea that Scott Shafer might say, "Well, if your school didn't already offer broadcast journalism I might consider it, but, you know, dems da breaks."
"There's merit for both sides."
Is there? I mean let's think about this. Your side is trying to say that the student-athlete has a responsibility to stay loyal to the university that gave him a scholarship and opportunity to begin with. But that university can just as easily pull that scholarship. You and your predecessor have brought plenty of football players into your office and told them they should transfer because there's no room for them here anymore. Not to mention the university will probably distance itself from them if they get injured or get in trouble. Let's not even get into the financial implications of football merchandise with the player's likeness and number on them.
When it comes to their future and their families, the only person student-athletes need to be loyal to are themselves.
"...but I would rather have the kids finish their graduate work at the school they chose when they were young."
That makes zero point zero sense. First of all, again, SUPER-controlling. Second of all, people go to different schools for their graduate degree LITERALLY ALL THE TIME. If we were talking about a generic, normal college student who went to a different school for a master's degree, you wouldn't even think twice about it. There is absolutely no reason staying at the same school is a necessity other than control.
Also, I think we can all agree that the decision you make when you're 18-years-old is what you should be held accountable to for the rest of your life.
One more thing before we go...
To be clear, Shafer's stance was not that he would discontinue taking a look at bringing in fifth-year graduate transfers.
As long as the rules allow it, Shafer and his staff would assess whether the player is a good fit for his program.