On Wednesday, Feb. 5, the UConn football program welcomed a 25-man recruiting class to their ranks: 22 high-school players and three junior college transfers. However, noticeably missing among them were any graduate transfers or members of other four-year universities.
Why not anyone from the transfer portal?
“I’d rather go with high-school kids or junior-college guys… Guys going into the [transfer] portal, to me, they’ve got issues. They’ve got issues. That’s why they’re going into the portal,” said head coach Randy Edsall. “Sometimes these guys from the portal think that they’re enabled and entitled to something. You know, maybe it didn’t work out because you didn’t stay there and finish.”
There’s a lot to unpack with this statement. The transfer portal has been a welcome addition to the confusing college transfer system for most athletes. Three of the four quarterbacks in the college playoffs last year were transfers. Universities use this to bolster their rosters, and students use it to guarantee the best opportunity for their talents and education. And yet, here Edsall is, calling those who may find UConn the best place for them to succeed “entitled.” Whether he realizes this or not, Edsall’s remarks close the door on recruiting through the portal for quite a while. Why would any player want to come and play for a coach who thinks of them as entitled? With UConn’s record of six wins over the three years of Edsall’s return, closing doors on recruiting talent is certainly something they cannot afford.
Perhaps Edsall is expressing frustration with losing players to the portal year after year. This year, 21 players have decided to explore the transfer portal, with eight of them committing to new schools, among those, last year’s beginning-of-season starting quarterback, Mike Beaudry. The portal allows athletes to go where they will be most successful. This isn’t being entitled, or having issues with the current program; it’s making the best for yourself. So instead of being frustrated with a system that lets athletes choose the best place for themselves to be, leadership should focus on convincing people that UConn can be that place. Athletes coming and going is natural for an athletic program, and being appealing to athletes should be the goal of the football team leadership.
UConn football is particularly frustrating, as there is a lot of potential, and not a lot of success. The players want to win, and they give it their all. Loyal fans still make their way to Rentschler Field every weekend, willing to cheer on their team despite the recent hardships. And so, when we see the football team leadership make statements like this, we can’t help but feel disappointed. The players in that locker room deserve better. That frustration builds when the players who switch positions back and forth to be the most useful for their team are called entitled. It builds when they don’t release an official depth chart, a standard for football programs. It builds when we see a group of dedicated athletes not being given the tools to succeed.
So how can leadership fix this? Issuing an apology would be a good start. UConn has talented transfers currently on the roster, and talented players who decided to transfer and play somewhere else. Neither of these groups deserve to be insulted by a coach that they played for, that they gave their all for. Secondly, leadership should work to modernize their approach, and dedicate themselves to becoming a competitive team. This would mean following the standards of success for college football: depth charts, working with the transfer portal and an effort to succeed and attract the athletes of the future.
This statement alone doesn’t doom the football program to be bad forever, and it certainly isn’t the only thing wrong with it. But it is a symptom of a greater problem, and a bad sign of what’s to come if something isn’t done to correct that line of thinking. As a loyal UConn football fan, I look forward to the day where UConn can be a place to work hard and improve oneself, both as an athlete and a student.
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Ben Field is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.