Why it's tough to blame Kadyn Proctor for Transfer Portal saga

Kadyn Proctor's decision to return to Alabama is just as easily understood as his return to Iowa in the first place.
Alabama v Mississippi State
Alabama v Mississippi State / Justin Ford/GettyImages

For fans of college football, Kadyn Procotor's decision to return to Alabama via the Transfer Portal within a matter of months is a frustrating story. For Iowa Hawkeye fans, that frustration is understandably scaled to a higher degree.

As frustrating a situation as it is, I find it hard to blame the player here.

The evolution of college football over the past several years is a net positive for players while, by and large, it's a net neutral for fans.

Players spend a maximum of three to five years at any program and the greats are remembered until they are outperformed and the rest get a nod of appreciation when their contributions are reminded. Fans are loyal to the program, and largely only to the players who produce for their program. And their program is going to play regardless.

Players are loyal to themselves and the team they are on. The pursuit of something greater, be it a professional career, financial gain, or a quality education are all understandable aspirations for any college athlete because, truthfully, it's no different than any other student.

Proctor returned to Iowa out of loyalty. Without Nick Saban at Alabama and a home waiting with open arms in Iowa City, of course, it made sense for him to return. The tampering claims and admissions were nearly irrelevant, except on a larger scale.

With Alabama landing a solid hire in Kalen DeBoer, it makes just as much sense to return to Tuscaloosa and play with a more talented squad offensively and reap the benefits.

Proctor, regardless of his reasons or intentions, was right to do what he felt was in his best interest.

Certainly, I am not glossing over the fact that Proctor did receive NIL compensation from an Iowa collective during his short stint with the program. But is that really worth slandering a young man's character?

Has no one ever taken a job for whatever reason, leaving a great opportunity behind in the pursuit of another interest and backed out after their first paycheck, returning to the place they began at?

Keep in mind that Proctor is 19 years old and is one of the biggest names among offensive linemen in all of college football. As a 5-star, No. 1-rated offensive tackle in his recruiting class, his name carries a ton of value. That means everyone wants his services and is in his ear trying to tell him what is best for him while he draws his own conclusions and makes his own decisions based on the information provided, or often withheld.

Proctor made a mistake when he told reporters that Iowa officials, namely recruiting director Tyler Barnes, had stayed in contact with him at Alabama. But it's not his fault that the professionals in the situation knowingly broke the rules in the first place.

It's also not Proctor's fault that the NCAA lacks the necessary structure to control the environment Proctor and thousands of other athletes find themselves in today. It's not a failing on a 19-year-old young man's character to back out of a decision, or to reverse it later.

Proctor has emotional ties to Iowa that he was interested in pursuing. Proctor has career goals that are supported at Alabama on years of success that he is interested in pursuing. He's going to be a starting left tackle making lots of money no matter what he chooses to do.

Credit to the NCAA for making his journey possible - to transfer when he feels it necessary, to make money off the value he has created for himself as an athlete. But blame the NCAA for the nature of that journey. Blame the NCAA for not having a structure around the Transfer Portal and NIL that makes the slightest bit of sense.

Blame the NCAA for harboring an environment that for more than 150 years used and abused athletes for their own gain that now mocks young men for making decisions for themselves while professionals who are so used to bending maliable and near useless rules and guidelines to their own gain are ignored.

Kadyn Proctor isn't what's wrong with college football. He's a young man, carving out his path to achieve his goals and aspirations, utilizing the tools available to him to make it happen. No Iowa fan, no Alabama fan, and no neutral college football fan should be throwing any amount of negativity toward the player in these types of situations.

A lack of proper timing, limits and scheduling of the Transfer Portal are what is wrong with football. The lack of structure around NIL and player payment is what's wrong with football. The NCAA's entire futile effort to 'govern' the sport is what's wrong with college football.

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