Iowa's Kirk Ferentz suggests NIL, transfer portal have ended 'structure' in modern college football landscape

Iowa's Kirk Ferentz suggests NIL, transfer portal have ended 'structure' in modern college football landscape

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Longtime Iowa Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz is not one to shy away from sharing his perspective as relates to the considerable amount of change facing college football programs. The upheaval seems to have been propelled by the advent of name, image, and likeness (NIL) and the transfer portal.

Ferentz suggested that the portal and NIL have essentially deregulated collegiate sports. However, Ferentz also acknowledges that the more wide-open nature of the transfer portable has worked to the Hawkeyes’ benefit at times.

“I think in general terms,” Ferentz said at his spring press conference on Tuesday, via Football Scoop, “it’s been good for us.”

But offensive lineman Kadyn Proctor’s recent transfer seemed to spark Ferentz’s broader discussion of how athletes move from school to school.

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Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz speaks during the Hawkeyes’ media day on Friday, August 11, 2023, in Iowa City. (Zach Boyden-Holmes/The Register / USA TODAY NETWORK)

Proctor left Iowa last week after transferring to Iowa from Alabama in January. The sophomore is currently restricted from entering the portal, but the moratorium ends on April 16, at which time he has stated he will go back to Tuscaloosa.

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Although Ferentz did not reference Proctor by name or disparage him, he did appear to address the offensive lineman’s situation.

“We had a player join us back in January that had a change of heart after spring break,” Ferentz said. “I think the bottom line there is that you don’t want a player in the program that doesn’t want to be here. That’s always kind of been our feeling, and in my mind at least, it’s best for both parties to go separate ways at that point.”

Iowa Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz watches from the sidelines

Iowa Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz and running back Kamari Moulton (28) look on during a timeout during the second quarter against the Utah State Aggies at Kinnick Stadium. (Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports)

Proctor was the top-ranked high school offensive tackle in his calls, according to 247Sports. He initially verbally committed to Iowa before switching to the Crimson Tide.

He appeared in every game for Alabama last season during the team’s run to the College Football Playoff semifinals. Seven-time college football champion coach Nick Saban announced his retirement earlier this year. Proctor decided to enter the portal shortly after Saban stepped away.

Iowa cheerleaders

The Iowa cheerleaders lead the team onto the field before a college football game between the Wisconsin Badgers and the Iowa Hawkeyes, November 12, 2022, at Kinnick Stadium, in Iowa City, IowA.  (Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Ferentz also spoke on what he views as significant concerns with the transfer portal and NIL.

“Probably the biggest concern of this whole thing is just learning boundaries,” Ferentz said. “There’s no structure, no framework, and that part makes it interesting in the fact that I don’t know if it is sustainable.

“So, at some point, we’re going to have to be able to have a framework and a mode of operation. It’s just part of the business, I guess, and fortunately, we haven’t experienced too many of those types of things.”

Iowa’s well-known struggles on the offensive side of the ball seemed to merely make Proctor’s departure more inopportune. Ferentz’s son, Brian Ferentz, handled the offensive coordinator duties last season. Iowa recently hired Tim Lester, who will take over the position in 2024. Lester is expected to implement a vastly different offense. 

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After more than half a century coaching in Iowa City, Ferentz continues to try and avoid getting caught off guard. “I try not to get too surprised by anything.”

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