As No. 7 USC comes to town, Utah’s Kyle Whittingham explains his ‘distaste’ for what transfer portal is doing
Since Lincoln Riley arrived at USC, the Trojans have been attracting big-time talent through the transfer portal.
Coming off a rough 42-32 loss last week at UCLA, No. 20 Utah has another challenging matchup — this time at home against No. 7 USC.
The Trojans are restoring glory to their program after years of mediocrity. Under first-year coach Lincoln Riley, USC is unbeaten and off to its first 6-0 start since 2006.
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said he doesn’t know Riley “very well at all.”
“We’ve crossed paths a few times on the recruiting trail when he was at Oklahoma,” Whittingham said. “Of course, I’ve sat in meetings with him a couple of times since he’s been in the league for Pac-12 meetings.”
Since arriving at USC, the Trojans have been attracting big-time talent through the transfer portal — quarterback Caleb Williams (Oklahoma); wide receivers Jordan Addison (Pittsburgh) and Mario Williams (Oklahoma); running backs Travis Dye (Oregon) and Austin Jones (Stanford); and cornerback Mekhi Blackmon (Colorado), to name a handful.
USC even added a Utah player through the transfer portal during the offseason — linebacker Carson Tabaracci.
While talking about how the Trojans are performing under Riley, Whittingham pointed to the transfer portal and how it’s affected Riley’s new program — and his old one.
Oklahoma is 3-3 this season and the Sooners are coming off a 49-0 loss to Texas.
“Obviously, he’s doing a great job at USC. Obviously, the transfer portal is being manifest how impactful it can be there and at Oklahoma,” he said. “Oklahoma had mass departures and USC had a mass influx of talent. You can see what’s happening.
“You can see that teams are able to make major improvement or go the other way — more so than ever before because of the amount of turnover on your roster. There’s far more turnover on your roster now than there ever has been in the modern era of college football.”
When asked about how to retain players in this modern era, Whittingham said, “Pay them a bunch of money. … That’s kind of what it comes down to. I’m not accusing anyone of illegal improprieties or anything like that because it’s all above-board now with NIL. But as I’ve said before, there’s going to come a time in the very, very near future where the top 25 NIL pots of money are going to mirror almost exactly the top 25 programs in the country.
“That’s just how it is. That’s where it’s headed. There’s no debate about it, unless they change the rules. But I don’t know how (the NCAA is) going to backpedal now with the can of worms that they’ve opened.”
For the final question during his weekly Monday morning news conference, Whittingham was asked if this new transfer portal paradigm is hard to embrace.
“It’s more than hard,” he said. “It gives you a huge distaste for the game and for how it’s run and for the direction it’s going. Is that harsh enough?”
Utes on the air
No. 7 USC (6-0, 4-0)
at No. 20 Utah (4-2, 2-1)
Saturday, 6 p.m. MDT
Radio: ESPN 700