Roster Management: Development Takes A Backseat

This is the third in a four-part series about the State of the Program.
We discussed UH’s dependence on grad transfers in yesterday’s post. Those wanting to defend the practice of grad transfers would say that the lack of production is due to injuries and, to a point, that’s a legitimate thought. But why are half of your grad transfers injured?  Is it bad luck?  If so, then we’ve had two years of really, really bad luck.
Major decided that these guys would upgrade the roster and be better than anyone the staff could recruit out of HS. And his grad transfer commitment is unmatched: in the last two seasons, UH has taken nearly 3% of all grad transfers nationwide (9 of 332). In fact, Cougar football has taken more grad transfers than anyone in the country (three more than #2 Kansas).

Cougar football has taken more grad transfers than anyone in the country.

With our heavy investment in transfers, we have guaranteed roster attrition every year and that commitment leads us to continue chasing grad transfers to fill the holes. Until you bite the bullet, it will be a never-ending cycle.
Because grad transfers count against your next signing class, you’re always playing catch-up. As an example, Quentin Dormady was a grad transfer for the 2018 season. He appeared in just two games then used his redshirt to transfer to Central Michigan earlier this month. But Dormady counts against the 2019 signing class – he didn’t help on the field and we’re penalized next season for him.
Bringing in grad transfers cost you more than just the number of players you can bring in. Younger players are being deprived of playing time and reps in practice. Those players need reps in order to develop and help you down the road. Major’s grad transfer plan has both failed to produce results and stunted the growth of young players.

Roster Management Concerns

Partly thanks to grad transfers, UH is in a real bind. Major signed just 37 HS players in his first 2 classes (33 remain on the roster). He signed 11 HS players last week with 6 spots left to give in the 2019 class (will be some combination of HS, JC, transfers, and grad transfers).
UH will leave room for transfers and there will be at least one JC – it’s likely that 3 or fewer will be HS recruits. That means we will have used just 2/3 of our 75 possible scholarships on HS players. And of the current 51 upperclassmen in 2019, 20 will have transferred in (39%). That’s no way to develop a program.

of the current 51 upperclassmen in 2019, 20 will have transferred in (39%).

There will always be roster attrition due to transfers, injuries or players deciding to go in a different direction in life. And that highlights why high school players are vital when building an FBS roster. Most HS recruits are on campus for 4-5 years, they define your culture, and are your team’s nucleus. Major was sold to the fan base as having great HS recruiting connections but that has not panned out.
The high level of transfers also puts more pressure on coaches to evaluate and hit on a higher percentage of the HS recruits you bring in.  Normally, you hope that half of your signing classes are quality producers over their career – that’s 50 players over the span of four years of 25-man classes.
But now, that’s been ratcheted up as UH will be around 55 players signed in three classes under Major. That’s 20 less chances to develop a two- or four-year player.
A new NCAA proposal would wreck the grad transfer rule and would force UH to face the music on roster management even earlier. The rule would “require schools to commit to two years of financial aid for all basketball and football graduate transfers.”
That means a grad transfer with one year to play would count in two years against an 85-man roster. Our earlier example, Quentin Dormady, would cost us another spot in 2020. If this proposal becomes an NCAA rule it would limit grad transfers nationwide and, hopefully, at UH, too.
Photo by Mario Puente.
Read the entire State of the Program series.

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Next Up:

State of the Program: Major Problems