For CU Buffs’ new football coach, will transfer portal be a weapon? Or an obstacle? “We’re not Stanford. We’re not Harvard.”


Like a lot of CU football fans, Will Sherman would like to ask chancellor Phil DiStefano this: When will the Buffs start using the transfer portal as a sword instead of a shield?

“We’re not Stanford. We’re not Harvard,” Sherman, the former second-team all-Pac-12 offensive lineman with the Buffs and currently part of the Broncos practice squad, told The Denver Post. “We’re CU. I think we should be proud of who we are. Let whoever wants to come to CU come to CU. Work from that.

“We’re a great, prestigious university. I’m proud that I graduated from CU and got my degree from CU. I might even go back and get another one. But at the same time, I think we need to be more accommodating to guys in the transfer portal, just so that they look at it as an option. Because I feel like, right now, they see CU and it’s like, ‘Oh, I have to go through all these obstacles for my credits to transfer.’ And they just don’t even keep us on the radar.”

Among Pac-12 programs, only Stanford (one) and California (eight) from the summer of 2020 through the summer of 2022 acquired fewer football players via the transfer portal than CU’s 10, according to the database.

In a post-pandemic world where Name/Image/Likeness (NIL) marketing opportunities and the portal have effectively brought free agency to big-time college football, top programs have largely re-trenched themselves as the poachers.

And there might have been no greater example of the two camps than last Friday in Los Angeles, when Sherman’s Buffs (poached) were run over by USC (poachers), 55-17. The Men of Troy, who improved to 9-1, featured 20 transfers from the 2021-22 recruiting cycle — including former CU starters such as wideout Brenden Rice and defensive back Mehki Blackmon, two of Sherman’s old Buffs teammates. CU’s roster, meanwhile, featured just five incoming transfers from 2021-22, as their record dipped to 1-9.

“Right now, it’s kind of hurting us with what we’ve got going on (at CU),” Sherman said. “If a football player wants to come to CU, we should accommodate him….We need all the help we can get. And then whenever the new coach comes, I’m sure he’s going to want to bring in guys he’s familiar with.”


The Buffs are expected to announce a replacement for coach Karl Dorrell, who was fired back on Oct. 2 after an 0-5 start, before the end of this month. And any candidate who’s done their homework would almost assuredly want to know from DiStefano and athletic director Rick George: a.) why the portal has felt like one-way traffic out of Boulder and b.) what can be done to shore up those leaks before they leave a stain.

“The quickest way to turn your roster around is through the portal, no question,” former CU football coach and current Buffs radio analyst Gary Barnett said. “And it’s a way (to do so) that you never had before. That’s why you see some (coaches) come in and do as well as they have (quickly).

“The good coaches are going to know how to use (the portal). And they’re going to have to be able to use it.”

When it comes to CU football and incoming transfers, in layman’s terms, the rub is this: under current university academic requirements, not every credit from every system carries over once they’re accepted in Boulder. This sometimes makes new student-athletes ineligible immediately and in academic limbo until the credits can be made up.

When the NCAA required FBS-to-FBS transfers to sit out a year after their move, Barnett noted, any concern over credits carryover at CU was moot, as that student-athlete would’ve effectively been out of the picture regardless.


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