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Weekend wrap-up: Transfer Portal changes and remembering Ryan Mallett

Join me on a new column diving into a couple headlines from the past week.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish v Michigan Wolverines

Happy Saturday! Earlier this week, the NCAA announced a proposal to the (still quite new) Transfer Portal. While yet to be officially approved — which would likely happen in October — the change would reduce the windows for players to notify their current school of their intention to transfer from 60 days down to 30.

The Transfer Portal has been a huge disruptor across college sports, with hundreds of football and basketball players taking advantage of both the ease of finding a new home and the corresponding immediate eligibility offered by the NCAA. Without having to sit a season out, there has been plenty of incentive for players to head to greener pastures, and this trend is only amplified by the changing landscape of financial compensation.

This proposal would help bring a little more structure to the process, however, forcing players to make a decision quicker. While players should have the autonomy to make the best decisions for their own career, there is certainly a dark underbelly to the world of college sports right now, so any change to try to minimize that impact is a good thing.

From a Michigan Wolverines perspective, more regulation is almost always going to be welcome. Michigan notoriously follows the rules (often to its own detriment), so putting some guiderails on the Transfer Portal seems to be advantageous. While no one is completely pure, this is not a school that is apt at using third parties to lure players away from their current situations as the window drags on, meaning a shorter time period should theoretically improve retention while not limiting potential additions.

No, the Wolverines have instead been quite productive at using the Portal in the intended manner. The football program has brought in nine players during the offseason with many expected to contribute in a meaningful way, including Ernest Hausmann, Drake Nugent, LaDarius Henderson, Josaiah Stewart, and James Turner. The basketball team has met a little more resistance, but Nimari Burnett, Olivier Nkamhoua, and Tray Jackson will all see legitimate minutes this upcoming season.

The Transfer Portal is a double-edge sword with players like Hunter Dickinson, Cade McNamara, and Erick All going the other way, but such is the nature of college sports. Reducing the length of the notification window will at least give the programs less time in limbo as they wait out potential departures, and there should be little impact in terms of the quality and quantity of players Michigan will find in the Portal even after this potential change.

Ryan Mallett passes away

Former Michigan quarterback Ryan Mallett died this week at the age of 35. Though he perhaps is best know for his time at Arkansas and in the NFL, most Wolverine fans are very familiar with the former five-star. As of today, Mallett is still the third-highest recruit in Michigan history per 247Sports, sitting behind only Rashan Gary and Jabrill Peppers; no quarterback has come to Ann Arbor with a higher ranking during the current era of recruiting services.

While the Tom Brady-Drew Henson battle serves as the most famous Michigan quarterback controversy of the past three decades (though shoutout McNamara-J.J. McCarthy), there was plenty of hype around the freshman Mallett despite the experience of incumbent Chad Henne.

The 2007 season is obviously one to forget in Ann Arbor, ad Mallett’s Michigan fate was sealed the following offseason with the hiring of Rich Rodriguez and his drastically different style of offense. Mallett then made his (pre-Portal) transfer to Arkansas, where he enjoyed a successful college career that culminated in a third-round draft selection. His professional tenure was limited, but he did make eight starts and 21 total appearances.

Though many Wolverine fans will remember Mallett as a curious what-if, there were some tangible moments of promise. Perhaps none top the 38-0 beatdown of Notre Dame, which featured a trio of touchdown passes by the talented true freshman. The Rich Rod saga was a disaster for many reasons, but one unfortunate byproduct was the departure of Mallett and never getting to see how he might have fared as the full-time starter for the maize and blue.

Mallett passed too soon and was mourned by the entire football world this past week.