Dan Mullen on NIL, Transfer Portal, and the Future of College Football — “It’s Gonna Lead to Free Agency”

    Dan Mullen has spoken harshly on the NCAA’s NIL rules and believes the college football transfer portal has become an effective free agency.

    College football looks very different in 2024 than it did five years ago. With the introduction of NIL and the transfer portal, a former head coach believes it is turning into an effective free agency.

    Long-time college head coach Dan Mullen has spoken out about the concerns that were presented by coaches to the NCAA, and how the Florida Gators missed a trick getting on the NIL train early.

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    Why Does Dan Mullen Think the Transfer Portal Is Free Agency?

    A college football head coach for over a decade with Mississippi State and Florida, and a coaching career spanning 30 years, Mullen has seen everything college football has to offer — the good, the bad, and the ugly.

    However, what Mullen has seen in recent seasons in the expansion of NIL and the transfer portal is no surprise. Many analysts, coaches, and players are calling for closer regulation of the transfer portal, and the former Gators head coach told the OutKick Trey Wallace Podcast that the NCAA was previously warned.

    For Mullen and several other head coaches, what the transfer portal has evolved into — an effective college football free agency – was exactly what was anticipated. However, as the former Gators head coach explains, the NCAA had other ideas.

    Mullen is just the latest voice, including current Ole Miss HC Lane Kiffin, to lament the pitfalls of NIL and the transfer portal.

    “I think if you go back to the coaches, everyone knew this was coming,” Mullen said. “I was on the college football oversight committee around 2017-2018. NIL was coming up, the transfer portal was coming up, and when you’re talking to all the people at the NCAA, you sit in the meetings, and from the coach’s perspective, the transfer portal and how you want to do it moving forward is going to lead to free agency.”

    The transfer portal continues to be utilized more than ever. With thousands of student-athletes entering the portal following the 2023 season, the system is in need of a regulatory body.

    MORE: Ohio State NIL, Roster Building Key to Returning Stars

    Mullen explains that head coaches saw the current issues emerging and brought them to the NCAA’s attention, to no avail.

    “They (NCAA) were like, ‘No, it’s basically just taking paperwork away, instead of us having to approve everything’. I said that’s the intent, which is the right intent, but it’s gonna lead to free agency,” Mullen described.

    “NIL is solely going to be about recruiting, and they’re like, ‘it’s not going to have anything to do with recruiting.’ I think the coaches saw this coming down the road. A lot of time, administrators didn’t because they weren’t dealing with this daily to know what was going on.”

    Mullen was head coach of the Gators between 2018-2021 when the first NIL legislation was passed in Florida. He believes it should have led to the Gainsville program dominating the NIL scheme.

    “When I was at the University of Florida, we were the first one to pass a law. So I remember meeting and saying, ‘Hey, we have a year’s jump to potentially get this good, we should be able to sign players one through 25’,” Mullen claimed.

    “Because we can pay them and nobody else can. This is going to be fantastic,” Mullen continued. “But we need to get lawyers and everything in place, to do it. And then it came – ’Oh, we’re gonna wait and do it when everybody else does’.”

    After restoring Florida as a premier college football program early in his tenure in Gainsville, Mullen grew increasingly more distant in 2021, following two winning seasons. Failures to recruit and move on from staff members are credited with his downfall, and it certainly feels like Mullen still feels let down by the NIL decision.

    “So well, that’s not real smart. But that was out of my hands, it was administrative. And so, all of a sudden you start falling behind a little bit,” the former Florida head coach commented.

    Mullen’s comments show a belief that Florida’s early reluctance to be active with NIL has hindered the program despite his calls for the Gators to do so.

    KEEP READING: Top 10 NIL Deals in 2024

    The consequence is the Gators are currently on a streak of three successive losing seasons, and current HC Billy Napier is on the hot seat entering 2024 after going 6-7 in 2022 and 5-7 in 2023.

    Miss any action from the top college QB Rankings during the 2023 football season? Want to track all the movement with the college football transfer portal? College Football Network has you covered with that and more!

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