HUNTINGTON — Marshall head coach Doc Holliday showed excitement when speaking of the transfers that joined his Thundering Herd team for Friday's first preseason practice.
Guys such as wide receivers Tavin Richardson and Joey Fields, safeties Derrek Pitts and Quinton Jordan, defensive lineman Fermin Silva and linebacker Quinlen Dean are all guys who could help the team fill immediate gaps left from graduation in 2018.
While Holliday is excited about those players joining the program, he is less than thrilled about the method that the NCAA has constructed for potential transfers. Holliday feels the transfer portal not only might be detrimental to the players' well-being from an overall student-athlete standpoint, but it also may devalue the core principles the sport of football teaches.
Holliday's passion on the topic was evident when he spoke on the matter prior to camp beginning.
"The greatest thing this game teaches young kids is to overcome adversity and fight through things," Holliday said. "I've had hundreds of kids over the years. I've been in this thing and had kids come to me wanting to quit and walk away. They end up hanging in there and they walk out with a college degree and, some of them, an NFL contract. Things work out for them."
The logistics behind the academic portion of a transfer is the scariest part, in Holliday's eyes. As with any student, if they switch universities, not all of their credits from their first school carry over or are honored by the new school. Sometimes that leads to having to retake classes or taking different classes to compensate for what credits did not transfer, which lengthens the time to earn his degree.
Many see Holliday as just a football coach, but his focus and research into the academic implications of the current transfer shows that, for himself and other coaches, it's about much more than the game.
"I think we're losing sight of that," Holliday said. "Kids right now, if things get tough, they just get up and leave. I think that's a bad message. At the end of the day, when it all sorts out, how many of them aren't going to graduate because of transfers?"
Holliday also spoke about how the portal is so overcrowded right now with players who think they can move into a better situation that the numbers are disproportionate when comparing number of players in the portal to the number of available openings nationwide.
The Herd's 10-year veteran head coach said that just 10 percent of the players entering the portal end up with scholarships, which leads players into scramble mode to find a spot as a season approaches.
"You can't believe the calls we are getting right now," Holliday said. "The number of guys who are in that portal - and they are still going in - there's not enough room for all of them. Once a kid goes into that portal, their scholarship is gone where they are."
While Holliday doesn't like the system, it has become intertwined in the fabric of college football.
Marshall lost several players to the NCAA transfer portal in the offseason, which meant it had scholarships open up and holes to fill. Therefore, Holliday and his staff found themselves scouring the transfer portal for available talent that could help the Herd's immediate needs.
"I don't particularly like it, but we've gone in there and I like the additions we've added because of it," Holliday said.
For the staff, notably, recruiting coordinator Mike Treier, it gives coaches one more thing to stay on top of as they complete a recruiting class.
The recruiting game has already become complicated because of the addition of the December signing period, which changed the entire way that staffs recruit. Now, they also have to set a plan in case they do want to pursue a transfer.
"You have to keep X number of scholarships because you can't just take kids," Holliday said. "You have to have an offer. ... so how many do you hold aside or how many do you not sign (in one signing class)?"
As it stands now, the two-way street that is the NCAA transfer portal is a congested highway in college football.
Holliday's hope is that speaking out on the matter raises awareness toward its issues so that two-way street doesn't become a dead end for student-athletes nationally.