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Don Brown derides Transfer Portal after latest departure

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Don Brown didn’t want to talk about Myles Sims Friday afternoon.

But all the same, it appeared Michigan’s defensive coordinator was eager to talk about the rising sophomore cornerback’s decision to transfer from the program, just without mentioning Sims’ name or confirming details of Sims’ situation.

During Friday’s press conference following the conclusion of spring practices, Brown made a point to bring up the NCAA’s transfer portal. Saying he wasn’t speaking out on any one individual when asked about Sims, Brown took a hard stance against the new system.

“I’m 63 years old, and I’m not sure this was the way it’s supposed to be. That’s just me,” Brown said. “I’m not sure it’s good for anybody.”

Dominating the college football headlines all offseason, the NCAA’s introduction to the Transfer Portal has changed the way players, coaches and even fans view transfers. According to 247Sports’ widely sourced and verified tracker, there are 411 players in the portal — good for more than three per team.

While transfers have increased over time long before this offseason, the portal — which allows players to enter a database accessed by all coaches with or without their current team’s permission — has expanded the process and left coaches in the dark.

In the past, Sims — a former top-200 recruit who was only on Michigan’s campus for around 15 months — would have to meet with the Wolverines’ coaches to get them to sign off on the transfer. In fact, Anthony Carter and Charles Woodson fondly recall meeting with Michigan coaches intending to transfer, only to eventually change their minds.

Now, Sims, Aubrey Solomon, James Hudson and everyone can decide to transfer on a whim, and even leave the portal and return to their current school if they wish.

For Brown, old-school as they come, it doesn’t really add up.

“Adversity introduces a man to himself,” Brown said. “So Don Brown has a problem with a player (and he says), ‘I’m out.’ Is that teaching a young man anything? Is he learning anything from it?

“Now I guess every situation’s different, I just don’t … it’s disappointing. With all the activity that’s going on, I’m not sure that’s what we’re really searching for in college football.”

Also concerning to Brown? Just how many players seem ready to bolt. While players who have legitimate pro careers can sincerely claim that they’re looking for a better situation, the list is also populated by players who are walk-ons, players low on the depth chart and players who haven’t even played a snap for their current teams.

“There’s something about it that makes me feel bad, like we’re not still part of the education process,” Brown said. “Learning to deal with people, situations that may be adverse I think are all things that are important. And to think, ‘I’m out of here!’ …

“I’m not saying coaches aren’t a part of that deal, either, because there’s a lot of movement in our profession, so I think it’s a two-way street. But I just don’t … the fear I have is that I’m not sure it’s good for anybody.”

Like virtually every team, Michigan wasn’t passive in using the portal this offseason, picking up some insurance for a depleted defensive end group with the addition of Central Michigan’s Mike Danna as a graduate transfer. Two of Michigan’s three season-opening starting quarterbacks under Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh (Shea Patterson and Jake Rudock) were transfers, though both pre-date the portal.

But 411, including 61 at quarterback alone, is a high number, prompting Brown to wonder if the actual meaning of a transfer has gotten lost.

“I don’t see a lot of exceptions now,” Brown said, referring to his theory that players transfer to avoid adversity. “It’s whatever you decide, there’s an evaluation of each situation now. Obviously if there’s a problem, that’s a different deal. But hundreds, hundreds … that many unhappy people?”

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