The Transfer Craze

witnessingAs we have discussed on here in the past, we college football fans are witnessing a sea change in the fundamental make-up of college ball.  That is the prevalence of players transferring for convenience.

I say ‘convenience’ as opposed to a situation where a player has been dismissed from one progrm and thus having to go elsewhere to continue his college career.  We see this happening more and more and even the NCAA has lightened restrictions regarding transfer with the institution of a “Graduate Transfer” not have to sit out a full season before he can suit up and play at another D1 school.

Like it or not this is the new normal in college ball now and we need to get used to it.  Every fan will have their own opinion on this issue and we’ll discuss mine later on, but as we see happened at Pitt especially in recent years, there has been a real trend to search for and grab hired hands to start in place of younger and less experienced (and in many cases less talented) players extent on the roster.

There are a myriad of reasons players transfer but the majority see the handwriting on the wall as far as being a starter or two-deep player at their original university.  But that isn’t the only factor involved – many times it is homesickness and/or dissatisfaction with the way the player feels he has been handled by the school’s coaching staff.

Those aren’t the only reasons but are, in my research, the top three motivating factors.

Right off the bat we Pitt fans can look at our last two above the average successful transfer QBs in Tom Savage and Nate Peterman and see pretty clearly that our coaching staffs recognized the need to replace the guy in the batter’s box.

In both cases that guy was recruited 4* QB Chad Voytik out of the state of Tennessee.  Back in 2013 Paul Chryst knew that as a rsFR Voytik wasn’t ready to lead a D1 offense and so he brought in Tom Savage to take the reins for a single year.

Savage Year.png

That worked OK for us in that Savage had pretty good numbers as shown here.  That allowed our Panthers to get to a 7-6 season with a win over Bowling Green in the Little Caesar’s Bowl.  Which unfortunately was the last bowl game we have won.

Since that year we have had two more QBs come in to start in Peterman (from Tennessee) and now Max Browne (USC).  Peterman’s success at Pitt was solid in his first year and star worthy his second.

NP at Pitt.pngBoth of Peterman’s years led to eight win seasons and so Browne is now tasked with carrying that forward.

One may say that Voytik got the short end of the stick at Pitt and I feel for the young man, but there is no clearer indication of college football being less romanticism than a business than his case.  College ball is very much a “what have you done for me lately” scenario these days and Pat Narduzzi felt that Voytik would not be able to do the QB job to his satisfaction.  Of course this led to Voytik’s own transfer out of Pitt to Central Arkansas where he melted into obscurity and into the answer to a Pitt trivia question.

But we know it isn’t just QBs who transfer in and out of the Pitt football program.  This season alone we have possible transfer starters in rsJR DE Dewayne Hendrix (Tennessee) and rsSO Chris Clark (UCLA) at TE.  That is if Clark beats out yet another grad transfer in SR Matt Flanagan (Rutgers).

Flanagan himself is an example of a player who is transferring for reasons other than a starting position:

The news that Flanagan would play elsewhere in 2017 was first reported in November by At that time, he told NJ Advance Media he would pursue a master’s degree in research-based science.

“Being a biological sciences major, in order to pursue a doctorate degree — which is something I plan on doing — I need to get started on my thesis at the same university,” Flanagan said then. “In most scientific communities, it’s accepted to start another research project at a different school and keep going through dissertation.

The fact that he’s already been a three-time academic All-American supports that wise decision… so it isn’t always about football but also about using football’s available scholarship opportunity to purse and meet real-life goals.

Those players mentioned above aren’t the only transfers Pitt has had come into the program.  Back in 2011 when Todd Graham took over the head coaching duties after Wannstedt was fired he promptly grabbed five transfers who he felt could help immediately.

Those were 3* S Ray Vinopal (Michigan), 4* DB Cullen Christian (Michigan), 3* RB Zach Brown (Wisconsin), 4* E. J. Banks (Notre Dame) and Brandon Felder (North Carolina). Vinopal was a three year starter for us and was an All-ACC honorable mention.  As for the other four? Apparently Todd Graham was a talent killer here at Pitt as none did all that much here.

Remember also that TE Brock DeCicco took off for Wisconsin that year?

This season will an interesting one to keep an eye on up in Wisconsin as two Pitt transfers may be a large part of their offense.  HC Paul Chryst had convinced RB Chris James to play his JR and SR seasons as a Badger and after sitting out 2016 he’s ready to play.  This is very interesting as James was a 4* recruit when he came to Pitt and it now looks like he’ll be RB1 or RB2 there this season as Wisconsin has only two of its top seven 2016 RBs returning.

I’ll not be surprised if he lights up the joint up there this season. I remember watching him in practices and thinking he was the best RB on the roster not named James Conner.

Wisconsin also just got Rachid Ibrahim to transfer in as a grad.  We’ll keep an eye on how he does also.

So these in and out transfers have been going on with some regularity here at Pitt and under our current HC Pat Narduzzi I don’t see that slowing down.  If anything I think he’s enamored with the process and so far with the results he’s gotten – at least at QB – that will support doing more of it.

I believe some of us older fans aren’t as happy with these more frequent transfers than some of the younger fans might be.  I miss seeing true freshman come in and I’d know that we would be able to watch their four year progression up thru the depth chart into their senior year. 

That certainly isn’t guaranteed to happen any more and maybe that’s a good thing for the players themselves.  Now they aren’t trapped behind someone for a full four years like they used to be when back in the day when you signed on with a school for four years come hell or high water. 

Transfers rarely happened back then as it was a show of disloyalty to the program which offered you a chance out of the mills and mines to get the education your parents never had.  Now it is just the business of college ball…

Notes: In the total redundancy department Heather Lykes sees no need for an on-campus stadium.

I just finished a good crime thriller titled “Thou Shalt Kill” which is set in Pittsburgh in the 2011-12 time period.  The lead protagonist, Franco Patrese, is a detective who played running back at Pitt around 2001 or so before joining the Pittsburgh Police force, which I thought was interesting.

What was over the top was that the guy was supposed to also have won the Heisman Trophy at Pitt!!

The author, Daniel Blake, is a pseudonym for a man who is actually a Brit and who must have lived in PGH for some time because he does have the city down pat.  He just doesn’t know his American football all that well.


61 thoughts on “The Transfer Craze

  1. FWIW the 2003 Heisman winner didn’t play in the NFL and became an insurance salesman … so I’m buying it


  2. BTW, what’s the difference if an incumbent starter loses his job to a transfer or a new recruit?


  3. Well hey in my long series of 24/Taken/Homeland-esque novels that I just made up in my head the hero played QB for Pitt and won the Heisman Trophy 4 years in a row and Pitt had won 15 of the last 20 football national championships at the start of the novels. He then Jack Bauer’d ISIS and Iran and Saudi Arabia and Russia and China and North Korea all in the space of a week. And PSU cultists blew up Beaver Stadium (it was empty) after the university refused to put JoePa’s statue back. The hero could have stopped them but didn’t because why would he do that?

    Because it’s my fictional universe and I can have anything happen in it I want. Also Pat Narduzzi is this fictional universe’s Nick Fury and runs the secret CIA the hero works for in addition to having a .950 winning percentage.

    But Pitt fans are still not happy because there’s no on-campus stadium and Pitt plays in the Steelers’ new hover-stadium (which also the secret CIA’s SHIELD-esque hover-carrier thing) which doesn’t even come to hover over the Pitt campus even once.


    1. I just needed to let you know that was fantastic ….

      Why only a .950 winning percentage though??? lol


  4. Kids want to play and if they are not playing and see an opportunity they are going to go elsewhere. Narduzzi and Pitt have been able to recruit some pretty good players and I’m sure he will continue to take advantage of the availability of players that can come right in and start because it’s a pretty easy process to tell a kid he has a chance to play immediately as demonstrated on what has been going on with grad transfers and their success at getting on the field at Pitt.


  5. Savage

    What does this mean?

    PITT’s quarterback recruiting may be a bit underwhelming? I think so. Thank goodness for grad transfer’s. Let’s hope moving forward PITT can develops a younger QB who will start and play for more than one or two years.

    Speaking of Nick Furry, the actual Furries are back in the burgh. Isn’t that exciting? 😦

    Would not be the least surprised if Chris James ran wild behind that big Whisky line either. He’s a quick one..

    Happy to see Rachid get another chance, hope he’s fully recovered and can jump-start himself onto someone’s football radar.

    IMO, I think Heather is on the beam. She seems more concerned about PITT as a whole while focused on the bigger picture and not making knee jerk decisions. That’s called “doing her job the right way” keeping her ears down to the ground and learning before acting. She may be a good one…


  6. Heather needs to make sure the football program is successful since it pays all the bills. Needs to listen to football boosters and the Dog.


  7. Heather mentioned improving football game-day experience while working with Nike in getting the PITT uniform situation uniformed.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Guys transfer to improve on their current status to get needed exposure to professional scouts….it’s here to stay and we have benefitted from it. Nate and Savage kept us playing around .500 ball. We always have lots to complain about but fortunately, 0-12, 1-11, 2-10 and
    3-9 season records haven’t been part of the problem. I trust in Duzz- to get us to the next level!
    Deepelemblues.. loved your post- you ever think about teaming with Darkie our other “imagineer?”


    1. Max Browne, though he takes his lumps to begin the season, Catches FIRE and begins to carry Pitt like Quarterback-Atlas on his 6’5” shoulders, with his dynamite right arm.

      En route to a 9-3 regular season, Max Browne throws for 30 touchdowns to only 8 interceptions —- and although the NFL analysts on every network predict that in the Ultimate Irony, either Browne or his ‘USC-Usurper’ Sam Darnold will fight to be the Top-Drafted QB—- Max Browne proudly plays in the Bowl Game vs. a top 10 SEC opponent, and leads a Dynamic Come-From Behind Victory with a late TD to his fellow future NFL stud Jester Weah!!

      Max Browne, hopping down from the shoulders of First Team All-American Left Tackle Brian O’Neill, as confetti falls around him, greets the ESPN sideline reporter in the post-game interview. Max Browne looks around at all of his Pitt Teammates, and triumphantly yells into the Camera, “I love Pitt! Hail to Pitt!! USC who, like ps-who?!! I am SO PROUD of my FUCIN GUYS!!*”

      …….I don’t just do Pitt sports —– I also write Romantic Novels for the ladies too, I’m a creative guy. —–

      But ^^^^ That above is just my Clairvoyant, exact prediction of future events 😉 no joke.

      Defensive backfield still gives up a ton of yards and TD’s though 😦 😦 ….. So now you know that may all be totally true!


    1. Danielson committed to Pitt over Power Five offers from Louisville, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Iowa State, Rutgers, Syracuse, UCLA, Virginia and West Virginia. He previously named a top four that included Pitt, Louisville, Michigan State and Wisconsin.


  9. Glad we are winning recruits over schools like these instead of MAC schools and Middle Tennessee State types like some prior staffs.H2P


  10. Recruits recruit recruits. Simplistic but getting the big lineman from the WPIAL is huge. All are quite good and will keep that pipeline of Biz, DJ, Bookser, Sear, going strong. Danielson is the best area DT in years. Raines, high priority as well. Said it last year, Lugg, Adams and Hinnish were not big losses talent wise. Jeter has talent but who knows. Partridge is the guy Pitt needs to pay after Narduzzi. .


  11. Danielson is a solid addition to the class for sure. You just can’t teach size and he has it. Hopefully he has a motor to match. Solid offers, solid prospect. Good job!

    Transfer rule works for the athlete and the universities, a win / win. Regular students can transfer between universities without sitting out a year even if it is within the conference. The idea behind making them sit a year was to stop the kids from collusion and trying to be like the golden state warriors dream team. Also, stealing a playbook which is just stupid. They can steal it anyway.

    Would be nice for the rest of the wpial to join our guys and then go fill in the rest of the recruits from Flurrrrida.


  12. BigB,
    Good observation buddy. Thanks!
    Probably because currently we don’t really have much of a need there? What are your thoughts Big Bernie?


  13. Pittman4ever…just checked the prospect board on Scout… several are listed..will wait n see… would expect the to take a least one quality receiver. Limited number of scholarships remain. Going after priorities. Hope we land Colton Beck.. sounds like a QH/Tony D hybrid.


  14. Beck would be a big get but pooh poohed by some. I think he’s much faster than Q Henderson.. He’s faaaasst..


  15. DD to PITT is big big big. Doing such a great job this year in the WPIAL. Sorry if some feel that players like DD is just not good enough. PITT will win with the classes they have put together the past 3 years. Mark that down.. ike



  16. Targets.. Asamoah, Raines, Beck, Banks and possibly another DB and receiver….maybe one or two others.
    OLman Chris Bleich is heading to Hollywood- UCLA ( used to have the best unis in college FB at least until the Mustard was introduced- IMO)


    1. We just got one. Danielson will be listed as a 4 Star by season’s end. He’s just getting better & he’s developing through one of the best HS football programs in the region. Hometown boy, staying home is always good news for the Panthers.


  17. two years ago, K Pugh was elevated to 4-stars after senior season and M Ffrench was elevated to 3-stars (IMO, if it weren’t for Quadree Henderson, Ffrench would have been a bigger factor last year, he is obviously a heck of an athlete).

    Last year — two OT recruits were elevated to 4-stars after senior season

    This is just off the top of my head …. there may have been more

    James Conner was deemed solely as a DE prospect after his junior season. When 16 year olds are being rated, you just never know if they will be getting even better, or possibly have already reached their zenith.

    This is all part of the recruiting process …. recognizing potential (again, it is what schools like Pitt has to do)


  18. 50 best college players in last 50 years (3 Pitt players – you can probably guess)

    Excerpt of No. 7: Green was perhaps the greatest, most productive defensive player in college football history. A three-time consensus first-team All-American (and a second-team selection as a freshman), Green finished his career with 460 tackles, 53 sacks, 52 tackles for a loss, 24 forced fumbles and 13 fumble recoveries before embarking on a decorated pro career. He finished second in the Heisman voting in 1980 following a 17-sack senior season.


  19. Don’t understand how Marino doesn’t make that list. three 11-1 seasons One of the greatest single throws in all of college football history.

    I have also seen on one of these lists, Green listed as the Number 1 college player of all time. He was truly amazing and a joy to watch. On a team filled with all-time great players.

    Fralic was another one that could have made that list. Totally dominant in college. They invented the term “Pancake” to describe what he did to opposing defenders.


    1. I would pick Fralic, Revis and Donald before Marino

      Both Revis and Donald played in the anonymity of the Big East. Revis, who was picked in the first round and 2nd DB picked, didn;t even make a 1st or 2nd team All-America. And if Pitt didn’t move to the ACC his senior year, Donald would have never came close to winning all the defensive awards he won after his senior year


      1. We have had this discussion before. I place a greater value on what a player meant in terms of wins and losses. Maybe unfair to guys like Donald and Revis, but Marino winning a Sugar Bowl meant a lot more than Revis great runback vs WVU in a losing effort.Same with some of Donald’s miraculous games which we lost. Same reason I didn’t agree with retiring Fitz’ jersey. Great player but on an average team.


        1. FWIW, I couldn’t disagree more with that assessment. Jeff Hoffstettler, Doug Williams and Trent Dilfer each has one more Super Bowl win than Marino


          1. Just saying, all the guys with statues around PNC Park won championships. Greatest of the great on great teams. The guys you mention were hardly the stars on those winning teams. Straw man argument.


  20. I’m hoping Pitt schedules the Conner bobble head for the NC game. Would love to see a packed house door that game this year,


  21. That’s a great idea PittPT, national TV, Thursday night, Throwbacks and Conner bobble-head night = packed house he said wishing in one hand….. Well it’s a nice thought.

    Danielson still looks like a big pickup for PITT this morning. I would guess top 5 player from the WPIAL behind Jurkovic, Raines and ???


  22. Is it me, or aren’t the throwback uniforms a waste of time? What do people see in wearing some old, outdated uniform that makes players look ridiculous in some cases. If they want to dress the players like the national championship team once in a while that may be okay, but if it brings out comparisons with that team it might not be such a good idea. I happen to look pretty bad in that old suit I occasionally pull out from the 80s. Are players any different?


  23. If you guys listen to Peak’s podcasts at all he really believes PITT has a real shot at having 4 or so of these high 3 stars move up to 4’s. Which would be at the very least aesthetically pleasing and would help perception of how PITT is recruiting.

    Plus you hopefully get asamoah and Raines to add a couple more.


  24. Anything to do with uniforms is all about money from increased apparel sales. Pitt is just like 90percent of college teams in that tradition means absolutely nothing.


  25. Very pleased to get an elite local player. Overall recruiting seems to be on an upward trend again.


  26. I completely understand the money factor in sports, and if the retros somehow bring in more money, that is if people will actually buy them off the racks, then okay, I understand. For me, I would just like to buy one of the old gray Pitt t-shirts with the Pitt logo on the left breast! Small logo and classy look.. 🙂


  27. Uniforms are like anything else as far as the fan goes. If the players like them, which they seem to, the so called expert liked them, then so do I. The colors are off and awful but they do distinguish PITT from every other team in the country. Which is good imo.


  28. Actually, we’re one of the few universities where tradition matters (in FB) more than most schools. Aside from the money angle, which is important to 100% of schools, the throwback consideration is an acknowledgement of that fact. It’s OK to admit we have a proud tradition, we don’t need to beat ourselves up just to look objective. H2P


  29. I think the uniform topic is pertinent for a couple reasons.
    It does distinguish PITT from Navy, Notre Dame, etc etc…
    The players like them, they feel good in them and who knows if they play better?
    More revenue for PITT by way of merchandising.
    I like the script better.
    ..and 1618 is right, tradition and nostalgia.

    Lots of talk about tarping or not tarping Heinz field. Also a great topic. PITT tickets are already ridiculously low telling me that what we see is what we are going to get for the see-able future. Yet, I still haven’t heard anyone tell me how much would this cost 7 times a year.

    This is interesting, the Steelers and PITT only play one time the same weekend. I think same as the Pirates, once.

    A little confused about the round-table Reed. I thought you mentioned something about a hiatus? If you’re thinking of doing it tonight let me know. It should be tested beforehand. Last week was something between bizarre and hysterical.. I was still chuckling the next day about the good Reverend Jim talking on his cell phone reverberating like crazy…. 🙂 ….ike



    1. PITT always seems to get that home thursday game the same night as the Pens, hopefully they can avoid that this year.


  30. Love to see hockey at Pitt. Be a pretty empty PPG Paints Arena, if they played there. Got to think long term.


  31. we need the Uber Arena on 2nd Avenue right below Bates St. Doesn’t have to be big arena — just sits about 2000. And it could be used for recreation for both Pitt and CMU


  32. I’ve noticed that all the BIG brands in college football have basically left their colors, and look of uni’s pretty much in tack. Thus, when surfing channels on your tv with your remote (to find a college game) you know IMMEDIATELY when it’s Penn State, Alabama, USC, LSU, Notre Dame, etc. etc. etc. A college team’s brand is it’s IDENTITY and concerning this, Pitt has (on it’s own) destroyed their national brand of the mid 70’s to mid 80’s when they DOMINATED the college landscape. Yes, you may enjoy the flash of the Oregon Ducks, and if you do that’s great. But if you want to be a known national brand stick with the example of the big brands in college football.


  33. Pitt can go retro on the uniforms and then bring back the navy and gold twice a year.

    Also has any AD in
    History ever not said they want to enhance the game day experience yawn


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