On December 21st 2017 Luke Ford, a 4 star tight end from Carterville Illinois lived out his dream and signed his letter of intent to play football at Georgia. He got on the field once as a freshman, catching one pass for four yards in garbage time against Austin Peay. Ford was behind Issac Nauta on the depth chart in 2018, but with Nauta off to the NFL this season Ford had a chance to compete for a starting job.
However on January 8th, Ford announced he had made one of the toughest decisions that any young player could make. He was transferring away from his dream program. Back home, to be close to his ailing grandparents. When asked about the reasoning behind the transfer, his father had this to say…
“He’s leaving the Taj Mahal of facilities [at Georgia] just so his grandpa gets a chance to see him play in person before it’s too late,”Tim Ford (Luke’s Father)
As has been the case with multiple high profile transfers in recent months, Ford applied for an immediate eligibility waiver. High profile quarterbacks such as Tathan Martell (Ohio State to Miami) and Justin Fields (Georgia to Ohio State) have been granted these waivers for issues far less serious than Ford’s. In April the NCAA announced Ford wasn’t granted immediate eligibility. This week the NCAA denied Ford’s last appeal.
A Slap In The Face
This is part news piece, part opinion piece. The Ford family have been unbelievably magnanimous in the way they have dealt with this news. However, in my opinion this is just another example of the NCAA putting big names above student welfare. Luke Ford is leaving the program of his dreams, a squad with national championship potential. Sacrificing everything to move to a middling B1G college with very little national championship potential. This move benefits Ford’s football life in no way at all.
The group that runs all of college football continues to show it is one rule for some and another rule for others. The higher profile you are as a player, the more likely you are to be looked upon favourably by the committee. Adding this to the idea that the organisation has exploited these talented athletes by not allowing them to make any money from their own image whilst conferences and coaches are remunerated at record levels.
The athlete exploitation of the transfer portal is welcomed. These players deserve the absolute best they can get. However, as the NCAA continues to get it wrong with its transfer policy. It would be unwise to not expect some sort of tightening of the rules.