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Thread: How will EA SPORTS College Football implement the Transfer Portal?

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    Administrator cdj's Avatar
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    How will EA SPORTS College Football implement the Transfer Portal?


    Since the creation of the Transfer Portal in 2018, it has become the most immediate, high impact way for a college football program to try and turn around their fortunes. Conversely, it can also see a program suffer a roster exodus, stymying any progress or depleting a position.

    In the NCAA Football franchise and in the pre-Portal world, Recruiting was the lifeblood of a program. Success or failure depended on the evaluation and development of talent with minimal transfers.
    Now, the floodgates are open and programs can get immediate help on their roster through the Transfer Portal to establish depth or even a starter. Some programs (Pitt in regards to Jordan Addison leaving for USC, for example) would argue that other schools are tampering with players in part with Name, Image, Likeness policies to pull players away.

    As important as Recruiting was in NCAA Football, the Transfer Portal may be even more so in EA SPORTS College Football. Its inclusion seems all but a given in year one and should add an entirely new dynamic to Dynasty Mode. The Transfer Portal will undoubtedly be the most anticipated new feature within Dynasty Mode, and for good reason.

    Based on community feedback and seeing the Transfer Portal in action for several seasons, here are some key aspects we would like to see reflected for the mode in the video game as well as some questions we have on how it might work.

    - The CPU must be proficient at filling needs to stay competitive. With many users historically proficient at recruiting well enough to quickly build a talented roster, the CPU must be able to address needs via the Transfer Portal in order to keep CPU teams competitive and prevent users from building a super-roster in no time.

    - Slow users from creating superteams. In order to prevent the quick build of superteams and the immediate knowledge of player ratings/skills, what if there was a mechanic in place where some players may take a step back (ratings regression) in joining a new program? Players in the Transfer Portal should recognize the talent level at programs pursuing them. While having increased interest in a school where they would likely become a starter makes sense, the CPU should recognize situations where the existing talent at that school’s position is already very high. For example, a 95 OVR DT in the Portal might not have as big of an interest heading to a program that already has two 90+ DTs as compared to a program where players there are 80 OVRs. They should weigh being a starter/contributor versus creating a stockpile of talent. In addition, players should be aware of teams attempting to land multiple players at a position and possibly be turned off by it. Should one player commit, other players should be aware and possibly lose interest if it now no longer guarantees starting or significant playing time (real-time roster evaluation), if that is their primary reason for interest in that program.

    - Can transfer percentages match up in real life vs. the game? While big-time players and former highly touted recruits get the headlines, the Transfer Portal has witnessed many players enter, but not all find a new school. Where do players typically move to? According to Rivals, approximately 55-70% of Power Five players found a new school while approximately 20% went to a lower level of football. Some conferences saw more players going to fellow Power Five conferences, while others saw more heading to Group of Five programs. If EA SPORTS College Football can establish matching transfer percentages, will it destabilize Dynasty Mode? Will it hurt the ‘fun’ factor if users find themselves lacking stability within the mode? Will it help non-traditional programs land talent to become more competitive?

    - Remember top three schools & coaches for each player when initially recruited or previously played for. An item that would benefit users who want to revisit recruiting successes and failures throughout a player’s career, this could also help build some logic for players consider a possible transfer location. Perhaps they give a leg-up to the other schools who missed out on them before or maybe they go to the school that has a current HC/OC/DC who recruited or coached them before, perhaps with a boost if they performed well in their system previously. (An example in this year’s Transfer Portal is Dillon Gabriel joining OC Jeff Lebby at Oklahoma. Lebby was his OC his freshman year at UCF.)

    - Inclusion of FCS programs. This could be done in just a text format until FCS programs are added, meaning that players would show as transferring to and from FCS programs, even if the schools themselves are not playable/selectable. As mentioned earlier, numerous players transfer to, from, and within the FCS level and without that possibility in EA SPORTS College Football, these players would basically disappear or cease to exist.
    To make this work, the game would need some sort of simulation or manufactured stat logic for players at the FCS level. When players from that level want to transfer, users will want to see their stats to determine productivity and to make them seem equal to FBS players who would likely have career stats. Keeping these players ‘alive’ in the FCS would also make them eligible to appear in a Draft Class for Madden NFL, should that ability exist in year one.
    If the game has an FCS level, even purely as text, FCS players in the Transfer Portal should be able to transfer to another FCS program. (In 2022, 512 FBS players transferred to the FCS, 180 FCS players transferred to FBS programs, and 206 transferred from FCS to FCS.)

    - Ability to recruit and lose ‘committed’ players. While it doesn’t happen often, this could be called the ‘Dillon Gabriel’ exception. (Gabriel transferred from UCF and committed to UCLA for 18 days before changing his mind and heading to Oklahoma following the hire of OC Jeff Lebby and departure of OU QB Caleb Williams.) Such a feature would likely be in the mold of a popular community request for recruiting – the ability to have decommits, making users continue to recruit players until they are signed. Within the Portal, would there even be enough time for a switch to occur? Do players change their mind enough to where this would be in consideration as a feature? Perhaps there’s simply a miniscule chance that a player may change their mind and there is nothing the user can do. It would certainly make for an interesting moment if one user is spurned for another by a coveted transfer.

    - Can a player go into the Transfer Portal multiple times? (If so, will players transferring a second or more time to a Division I program would need to sit out a year?) It doesn’t garner the coverage of Caleb Williams or Jordan Addison entering the Portal, but there have been instances where a player enters the Transfer Portal multiple times in their career. Very recently, former Alabama LB King Mwikuta entered the Portal in June 2021 before returning to Tuscaloosa. He then entered the Portal after the 2021 season for Arkansas State. In August 2022, Mwikuta entered the Portal for a third time. Are there enough players who transfer multiple times to where such an aspect warrants inclusion?

    - Should there be a way to see unhappy players before they leave? Historically, some sports titles (MVP Baseball, for example) have included a morale system to see players who may be unhappy and needing the user to address their concerns with more playing time, for example. Should EA CFB users be made aware of dissatisfied players to try and prevent an upcoming transfer?

    Counter-point: Aren’t many situations of player dissatisfaction at least somewhat predictable? If a highly rated recruit does not get many touches in his first two years on the roster, isn’t he likely to leave? If a starter is benched early in the year, isn’t he likely to look elsewhere? Is a talented player likely to enter the Transfer Portal if he’s away from home and playing for a struggling program (and perhaps his homestate program is on the rise; think Wan'Dale Robinson)? There is an argument to be made that, for the most part, coaches and users should realize the lack of touches and/or success are often the impetus for a player leaving and they should manage the roster accordingly, morale indicator or not.

    - Can players return after entering? Once a player enters the Transfer Portal, is there a chance they opt to return? Perhaps if their suitors are not to their expected level, they withdraw their name.

    - A way to notify users of Transfer Portal additions/declarations. Part of the fun of the Transfer Portal for fans is the ‘breaking news’ aspect, seeing who has entered, and thinking if they would be an improvement or fit for their favorite team. For example, numerous recruiting services have created webpages and Twitter accounts to track and announce when players enter. How will the game replicate this? On a potential in-game ticker? In a menu pop-up? In a sortable chart within the mode?

    - Players no longer get ‘cut’ – instead they enter the Portal. Should roster management in EA CFB be similar to that of NCAA Football 14, cut players should no longer disappear. Instead, they should go to the Transfer Portal where, if a user had a stacked roster, could now go somewhere else to play and improve that team’s talent level.

    - What will the Transfer Portal methodology be? Will it be the same or different as Recruiting? Perhaps the most important aspect of adding in the Transfer Portal is making sure that between this new aspect and Recruiting, Dynasty Users will not feel they are spending more time in menus than playing actual football games. Recruiting an entire year-long season in NCAA Football took approximately several hours of time. The time in which a player enters and leaves the Transfer Portal is generally considered very quick, perhaps a matter of just weeks, if not days. How can a comparable and effective system be built that reflects this quick time period while also allowing depth for the user?

    - Will recruits be turned off by schools over-reliance of Transfer Portal? While it makes sense for a new coach to hit the Portal hard in year one, what if a user decides to make it their primary aspect of building a roster? In real life, it could dissuade recruits who may feel that they might be replaced at any time instead of being developed and getting their turn. Perhaps the drawback to being overzealous in the Portal leads to more players on the roster leaving and perhaps some recruits being turned off by your school.

    - How will player interest in Transfer Portal schools be determined? A push or pull system? Will players have pre-determined interest in schools or will it all be based on who pursues them? Some of the top factors for school interest or departing could be: their home-state team, championship contender, previously recruited by school/staff, immediate playing time, “fresh start” (leave if injury-riddled), et al.

    - Will there be any in-game Transfer Portal deadlines or dead periods? According to the NCAA, in 2020 & 2021, December and January were the months where the most players entered the Transfer Portal. In-game, can players enter the Portal during the season? Will the Portal end or stop just before offseason recruiting so players can adjust their roster accordingly? If players cannot leave during the season or at multiple points in the offseason, will it be off-putting to users seeing multiple (if not double digit) players leaving all at one point? (This would be in conjunction with graduates and NFL Draft departees.) There has been speculation that ultimately the NCAA will implement 'dead periods' where players cannot enter the Portal, but that has yet to come to fruition. UPDATE - The NCAA has instituted windows for first-time athletes to enter the Transfer Portal and not lose a year of eligibility. "The first [transfer window], a 45-day period, will start the day after championship selections are made. A second window will be instituted from May 1-15 so players can enter the transfer portal after spring camp. "

    As you can tell, there are a lot of key components that must comprise the Transfer Portal in EA SPORTS College Football and also many questions/issues that must be considered to make this feature the best it can be.

    What aspects of the Transfer Portal are most important to you? How would you recommend EA address the open-ended concerns discussed here? Share your thoughts below with the community and we will highlight some of them in an upcoming TGT Podcast.
    Last edited by cdj; 09-01-2022 at 12:44 PM.

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    Administrator cdj's Avatar
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