It's a unique dynamic that illustrates the new direction of these programs. What happened several years with the head coaching hires by both schools is turning full circle and the NCAA transfer portal is turning that circle into a straight line - To Tucson.
The story that is unraveling for college football rivals in the valley of the sun is the changing of fortune. However, the one that is ultimately going to ruin the NCAA is going to benefit the University of Arizona. The NCAA Transfer Portal is telling the whole country what the hiring of Herm Edwards and Kevin Sumlin meant. One can recruit, the other flat out cannot. One coach is now dealing with a potentially charged corruption issue. The other school has a new coach that is using the portal to tell a story of how it all got like this.
The dynamic of the current transfer portal of players leaving both Arizona Universities is telling exactly what both schools had just a few years ago.
The portal is showing what type of recruiter Herm is. Top players are leaving Arizona State for SEC schools and other power five programs of much grander lore than ASU. Either Herm Edwards did a skilled job of signing players that were missed by legendary schools, or he coached them into players that are now highly desired by the likes of Brian Kelly at LSU. It is a little bit of both.
I like Herm. He is a good thing for Sun Devil football, but he has lost it through his staff behavior, not paying attention, looking the other way, or institutional leadership that has always been like that. I think it's a little bit of everything.
Jedd Fisch is losing players that saw some or little to no action at all. The biggest school to grab a Wildcat? Colorado. The fact is these players in the portal are a majority from the Sumlin recruiting era.
Edwards has some fresh players arriving from some upper-tier schools. But those players saw little time in those programs.
Fisch has players that were starters or were serious contributors from USC, UCLA, Washington State, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, and Michigan.
The Sumlin nightmare is proving exactly what it and he was. The Fisch hire has not only given Arizona a top twenty transfer class and a top eighteen national recruiting class, but power five players are also arriving in Tucson. ASU's power five players are leaving to bigger and brighter power five schools.
Like Herm, I like Fisch and even more the hire by Athletic Director Dave Heeke. His professional lineage, embracing alumni, players love him, and his ability to manage just not his team but for recruiting, marketing, ticket sales, and community PR.
Getting players to believe in him and all of the tangibles that Fisch has to acquire quality players from the portal, are great. But the one thing that Jedd will need more than ever is to build and maintain a quality coaching staff. Whom he surrounds himself with is going to be the tell-all in getting 'Zona out of the cellar.
Herm's coaches are leaving like mice and the NCAA are the cats on campus. The proof is in the pudding. Jedd just must show up big and the tradition and Territorial Cup are back in Tucson for a while.