Since the NCAA Transfer Portal opened on December 5, 27 major college players have transferred from one school to the next. An additional 11 QBs — including Oklahoma State’s Spencer Sanders and University of Tulsa’s Davis Breen — are undecided where they’ll end up.
You may never see again what Brandon Weeden was at OSU in 2007-11, or what David Johnson was at Tulsa in 2004-08: so talented and so patient.
As the most talented passer in OSU history, Weeden waited three full seasons before becoming the Cowboys’ starting quarterback. Johnson waited four full seasons before becoming a Golden Hurricane Champion, and as a senior in 2008 totaled 46 touchdown passes and over 4,000 yards. In terms of passing efficiency, Johnson ranked second nationally—second only to Heisman Trophy QB Sam Bradford of OU.
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During a conversation Wednesday with Tulsa World, Weeden marveled at the impact Gateway transfers have on college football — and on Oklahoma State’s roster. In the month since the gate opened, 16 cowboys have dived.
“It’s only been 11 or 12 years since I’ve played, but with the Gate and the NIL, I can’t fathom how much everything has changed,” Weeden said.
Widen’s view of the portal as it currently operates? He’s not a fan.
“The grass isn’t always greener. It usually isn’t,” said Weeden, 39, who spent seven seasons in the NFL and now resides with his family in Edmond. “I hate everything about the transfer gate.”
Even during that period in 2009 when he was Cowboy No. 3 behind starter Zach Robinson and backup Alex Kitt, did Weeden ever consider a transfer?
“It didn’t occur to me once,” Weeden replied. “Even when we had an offensive system where the quarterback was involved in the running game, I never thought about going somewhere else. Never once. You can write that.
“I was confident that it would eventually work out for me, and I knew I wanted to play at Oklahoma State.”
By 2009, Weeden had already secured a redshirt season. With the transfer, he would have been ineligible to play major college football in 2010 and would have only had one season of eligibility.
Instead, Weeden stayed and in 2010 partnered with a dynamic new offensive coordinator – Dana Holgorsen – and broke OSU’s passing records. He ranked third nationally in passing yards and sixth in TD passes with 34.
The 2009 Cowboys scored 47 touchdowns. The 2010 Weeden Cowboys scored 71 goals, and its primary target — Justin Blackmon — was the Biletnikoff Award winner.
In 2011, with Todd Monken succeeding as Holgorsen’s coordinator, Weeden led OSU to a Big 12 title, finishing with 12 wins and a Fiesta Bowl victory over Stanford. Blackmon repeated as a Biletnikoff receiver.
In two seasons with Weeden as the starter, Oklahoma State was 23-3. It happened because he was willing to wait for his chance to run the show.
In 2007, after being a right fielder in the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Kansas City Royals organizations, Weeden decided to try out for college football. As a 23-year-old wanderer and married man, he bought a house in Stillwater and became a cowboy.
On Wednesday, Weeden said his phone had popped up with messages from OSU friends who were concerned about the wave of gate departures.
He said, “I will always support Oklahoma State, but the people there are (angry) man.”
Obviously, Weeden didn’t use the word “angry.” I replaced (angry) with a word the editors didn’t like. Weeden says he gets personally angry when he sees the Cowboys transfer to competitive Big 12 programs.
Speaking not specifically about OSU’s gatekeepers but about college football as a whole, Weeden said, “Guys just bounce around from school to school to school—I don’t know, man. Some of those guys are soft, and if I were a coach, I wouldn’t want those guys.” Those guys who don’t want to compete – I don’t want those guys. There’s a lot of that going on. That’s one of the reasons I’ll never train.”
If you said well yes, Weeden was an untested quarterback for his toughness, you’d be wrong. He played the entire 2010 season with a severe thumb injury in his passing hand. He refused the surgery because he did not want to miss several matches. With every fist of the soccer ball, there was pain.
Weiden on the Gate, Part Two: “And if there are players who feel threatened because new guys come through the gate, and they don’t want to compete, that’s BS too. Competition makes everyone better. If you don’t compete practically every day, how can you compete and win on Saturday ?Go to compete.
“If you want to compete at the next level, the NFL guys look at what you do in college. If a guy is afraid of losing his job on the coaching business, he’s going to be red-flagged.”
Weeden added, “Also, I think some guys just wanted to be recruited again and feel special.”
College football is broken, Weeden says, and I agree with this one: In most cases, the element of instant eligibility for a transfer gate should be eliminated.
If there is a legitimate family reason for an athlete to make a move, there will be immediate eligibility elsewhere. If a coaching change occurs, that team’s players will be given immediate eligibility elsewhere.
However, if there is a move just because a football player resents playing time or wants to leave simply because it is now considered oddly fashionable, then that player has to sit out a season.
Even if he had already had his cut-off season, he would retain the remaining eligibility after the inactivity season. If he has two seasons of eligibility remaining at School A, he gets two seasons at School B—but only after sitting out the season following the transfer.
So there you have it – one man’s opinion on the NCAA transfer portal and instant eligibility aspect that turned roster management into a nightmare for coaches.
That guy happens to be Brandon Weeden, who despite being gifted with a pretty arm accepted his backup role at OSU. He ended up becoming the most important player of the Mike Gundy era at OSU.