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Postseason Analysis: NFL Vs. College Football

Written by Owen O'Connor  Writer  Twitter/X: @Ocon54

Photo By The Irish Tribune

True football fans know that these last few years have been full of off-season madness at all levels of the game. The NFL offseason is best known for franchise players receiving long-term extensions, or in some cases, making a splash and signing elsewhere. In the last few offseasons, we've seen some of the biggest stars at the professional level make a career change that would've been unheard of before the last decade. Some of the names that immediately come to mind are Kirk Cousins, Matthew Stafford, and even the great Aaron Rodgers. Not too long ago, fans couldn't possibly perceive the possibility of these franchise athletes suiting up for another squad, but the game has drastically changed. Players now more than ever have the ability to speak on their current situation and make a change for the betterment of their future, and many fans are here for it. This has given many lower-caliber teams the ability to go all in on a franchise playmaker who can turn everything around. This also posed the question, if the NFL's biggest stars can find a fresh start when the time is right, why can't college stars do it too? And thus, with the new era of NIL, the modern day transfer portal free agency was born.

The transfer portal has drastically changed the college football offseason and how players leverage their talent for a bigger piece of the pie. Before the modern era of the transfer portal, players would commit to a school and possibly find an opportunity to transfer to another school once - only after sitting out a year. This move was not always a preferable one for most, and the transfer portal wasn't as large of a concern for most coaching staffs. Nowadays, the transfer portal has not only allowed players to transfer more than once, but find the best opportunity each year at a different collegiate program if they wish without having to sit out.

The collegiate programs that these players have transferred to have reaped the rewards of the transfer portal as well. While fans may or may not be in support of the craziness at the professional and college level, we dive in to find out which one has transitioned for the better.

The NFL Argument

When it comes to debating the entertainment in the NFL, it is hard to argue against. The National Football League has done a tremendous job of making sure they keep their fans entertained throughout the year. Whether your team is competing for a Super Bowl or the number one overall pick, Free Agency and the NFL draft are a highlight of the offseason for fans and organizations. As we talked about earlier, in recent years there have been more and more star players requesting trades from their long-standing organization, or stunning the league and opting to sign elsewhere in the offseason. This gives fans hope for their team to make a move for a franchise player either in the draft or with their cap space in Free Agency. Now due to a busy offseason, we've seen teams like the Houston Texans go from the second worst team last season to a collection of star-caliber athletes with lofty Super Bowl ambitions. Another team that should've benefited from the madness of an offseason is the New York Jets, who were predicted to be one of the best teams in the league after the acquisition of future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers.

Roger Goodell and The National Football League have also done a fantastic job of keeping the fans involved amidst the player acquisition process. In recent years, the NFL has opened up its annual combine in Indianapolis to the public. This allows fans to go see their possible future franchise player and keep them entertained when no games are being played. Not only have they opened the combine gates, but they have also redefined the NFL Draft experience. The draft has adopted a tradition of visiting different NFL-hosted cities, ultimately taking over downtown for the weekend. The event consists of games, merchandise, food, and more fun-filled football experiences. Unfortunately, this is something the NCAA will struggle to compete against for a long time. The NFL has always been, and will always be the king of football.

The NCAA College Football Argument

Many opinions are flying around about the transfer portal, but there is no question where the student-athletes' hearts lie. Along with NIL deals, high-caliber collegiate players now see their extra years of eligibility as a financial and career-building opportunity. When an opportunity to start at a program does not arise, players can now find a starting job at a different elite program. Two names that quickly come to mind are former Ohio State Quarterbacks Joe Burrow and Quinn Ewers. Burrow was not eligible for NIL opportunities at the time, but he and Ewers both managed to jumpstart their careers at different programs after their start did not go as planned in Columbus.

While some find this to be a negative feature of the portal, it has benefited the top college football stars of today. Almost all of the 2024 NFL Draft's top QB prospects are players who took advantage of the transfer portal. Heisman winners Caleb Williams and Jayden Daniels are both former transfers and are currently projected to be selected first and second in Thursday's NFL Draft. Penix, Bo Nix, and our very own Sam Hartman. Elite NCAA programs are also ones that are very happy about this feature, especially the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The Notre Dame football program and Head Coach Marcus Freeman have done a great job of recruiting talented players out of high school. Unfortunately, these players need time to develop, and that is not always something a team of Notre Dame's caliber can afford. The Fighting Irish have taken advantage of the portal by recruiting veteran starting Quarterback Sam Hartman as their 2023 starting QB, and former Duke QB Riley Leonard as their projected starter for 2024. Having a skilled and veteran playmaker under center will not only keep the Fighting Irish competitive but also compete for a national title. It's hard to argue against anything but "fun" for Notre Dame in the last few offseasons. For the fans, outside of recruiting, the portal element has reignited offseason engagement. Fans of all programs find themselves glued to their screens when the portal opens to see if one of their star players has decided to move on, or if that final missing piece for their team has been acquired from the transfer portal. It's the closest thing we'll get as fans to the madness that has proven to be NFL Free Agency, and it's done a pretty good job of replicating the excitement and engagement it has brough fans over the past few offseasons.

While most football fans love their collegiate team and NFL team, there is always a debate of which one you favor more. We're curious to know, does the offseason impact your interest in the NFL or the NCAA? Let us know in the comments!


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