Transferring teammates nothing personal to the Sooners, just the cost of doing business

Transferring teammates nothing personal to the Sooners, just the cost of doing business

In today's college football, players are aware that their game is more of an enterprise thanks to the collision of the transfer portal and NIL.

Guerin Emig

By Guerin Emig

| Dec 18, 2023, 3:01pm CST

Guerin Emig

By Guerin Emig

Dec 18, 2023, 3:01pm CST

NORMAN – When Cayden Green no-showed at Oklahoma practice last Tuesday, McKade Mettauer, the right guard who starts two linemen over from Green, figured the classroom had called. 

I assumed he was taking a test because it’s finals week,” Mettauer told media post-practice. 

Nope. On3 reported while the Sooners were practicing that Green was entering the transfer portal. A freshman who had worked his way into a starting role since midseason, a player who had tweeted “Welcome fam!” over the news of offensive lineman Walker Brown’s transfer into the OU program Dec. 6, figured it was time to go. 

This is how a game requiring deep personal investment becomes simultaneously impersonal. 

When the transfer portal calls, it is strictly transactional. 

“If you have an opportunity you’ve got to take it. Nothing personal. It’s business,” said Gavin Sawchuk, who like other Sooners interviewed that day didn’t go into details about Green specifically, but did offer general perspective on the portal. “You’ve got to be able to take care of yourself.”

NIL has been a thing for a couple of years now, going into year three, so I feel like everybody’s immune to it,” Jalil Farooq said. “Kind of turned into a business.”

Not much “kind of” to it. 

“Now you have NIL,” Billy Bowman said. “So now you’ve got guys saying, ‘I’m not getting this money, I’m not getting that money, so let me go get this money there.’”

Danny Stutsman and Jaren Kanak told it straight during a recent Podcast on the Prairie episode co-hosted by former Sooner Jeremiah Hall.

If you’re at Oklahoma, any school is going to take you. Just because you’re at Oklahoma,” Stutsman said. “You can be a dude who hasn’t had the opportunity to play, kind of sitting behind some good players. The second you hit that portal, every single college in America is hitting you up, throwing a lot of money at you. 

“So if you’re, ‘What’s going on in Norman? What’s happening?’ Look, these guys aren’t playing, it’s a competitive team, and they’re getting offered hundreds of thousands of dollars to go somewhere else. Bro, it makes sense.”

“It’s a realistic financial decision,” Kanak said. “If you know you’re buried in the depth chart, you know you’re not going to play, you get offered six figures to go somewhere else, why would you not take that opportunity?”

“It’s honestly a no-brainer. Everybody on the team supports you,” Stutsman said. “There’s no bad blood in the locker room. You’re trying to get your bag. You’re trying to go somewhere and play. I respect it.”

Stutsman drove that home after practice last Tuesday, telling reporters: “When a guy enters the portal and wants a better opportunity somewhere else, there’s nothing you can do. We all love each other on this field. We’re not going to bash a teammate. At the end of the day, we break it down with ‘family’ every single time.”

So it’s nothing personal when it comes to Green, Dillon Gabriel, Tawee Walker or any of the 14 2023 Sooners planning on playing elsewhere in ‘24. 

“Just hope guys have clear heads about it. And most people do,” Bowman said of the portal. “Most people do, but you’ve got some that just wanna hop around.”

“You’ve got thousands of guys in there. It’s just a mess,” Bowman also said. “I’ve kind of forced myself to be numb to it, to not pay attention.”

“It doesn’t bother me because I’m leaving,” said Mettauer, the fifth-year senior who was at Cal before transferring to OU for the ’22 and ’23 seasons. “But that’s just the new norm. It’s definitely more wild than it was when I used (the portal), because of NIL and stuff. I’m not really worried about it now.

“You just hope they’re doing it for the right reasons just in general. I couldn’t imagine someone trying to leave Oklahoma, because I did everything I could to get here.”

That’s no shot at Green, a young talent Mettauer views “like a little brother.” The Sooners were in no position, or mood, to assess one teammate’s decision on the day he made it. 

It isn’t likely they’ll be judgmental about transferring teammates at any point moving forward. 

Not in Norman or anyplace else where players are aware that their game is just as much an enterprise thanks to the collision of the transfer portal and NIL. 

“You don’t take it personal as far as hating on them, but you do form a bond with that person,” OU cornerback Gentry Williams said. “At the end of the day, anybody that puts themselves in the position of entering the portal needs to do what’s best for them. If they feel like entering the portal is best for them, I fully support them.”

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Guerin Emig is a columnist for the Sellout Crowd network. Read his work at selloutcrowd.com and guerinemig.com. Reach out with feedback and/or ideas at [email protected] or (918) 629-6229. Follow him on Twitter at @GuerinEmig and Instagram at @guerin.emig. .

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