Colorado coach Deion Sanders has been headlines with his approach to ahead of his first season. He already boasts a transfer class that numbers 39 players with the potential to add more -- an unprecedented number in the portal era. Sanders' heavy-handed approach to the portal is not an entirely new concept, though.
Michigan State coach Mel Tucker set the standard after taking 14 transfers ahead of the 2021 season. None were more impactful than running back Kenneth Walker III, who took home the Doak Walker Award after rushing for 1,636 yards and 18 touchdowns. Walker powered the Spartans to 11 wins and a Peach Bowl victory vs. Pittsburgh, their first New Year's Six triumph since 2014.
It seemed like Tucker and the Spartans created a blueprint for a fast track to success. As the calendar turned from 2021 to 2022, marking the first full year of the portal, plenty of programs tried to follow Michigan State's model. As it turns out, the hit rate was much lower than most would expect.
A total of 42 FBS teams brought in at least 11 transfers in 2022. Exactly half of those teams finished the year with a losing record. Four Power Five coaches -- Auburn's Bryan Harsin, Arizona State's Herm Edwards, Georgia Tech's Geoff Collins and Nebraska's Scott Frost -- all brought in big transfer classes but were all fired in the midst of poor seasons.
The portal is not slowing down, and college football teams are still going to bet big on it as a miracle salve. Recent history shows that, though things might work out, flipping a roster via the portal is far from the catalyst to overnight glory that some fans hold it up as. Using 247Sports' Team Transfer Rankings, here is a look at some notable teams that took at least 11 transfers during the 2022 cycle and how it ultimately impacted their seasons.
- 247Sports Team Transfer Ranking: No. 3
- Total number of transfers: 16
- 2022 record: 10-4
LSU actually exceeded anyone's realistic expectations, by far. The Tigers beat Alabama in the regular season, secured a spot in the SEC Championship Game and dismantled Purdue in the Citrus Bowl. Transfers played a major part every step of the way. Jayden Daniels developed into one of the SEC's best quarterbacks. Greg Brooks Jr., Jarrick Bernard-Converse and Mekhi Wingo all played important roles on the defense. First-year coach Brian Kelly hit on most of his transfer evaluations, which is a surprisingly rare feat to accomplish.
- 247Sports Team Transfer Ranking: No. 11
- Total number of transfers: 14
- 2022 record: 10-3
Not that Mike Norvell was in danger of losing his job, but he really needed that productive season the Seminoles enjoyed in 2022. Albany transfer Jared Verse became an immediate workhorse for the defense, affecting games with his ability to get after the passer. Trey Benson (Oregon) was one of the Seminoles' most effective running backs, while Johnny Wilson (Arizona State) and Mycah Pittman (Oregon) upgraded the wide receiver position. Offensive linemen Jazston Turnetine and D'Mitri Emmanuel outperformed their transfer ratings to become reliable starters.
- 247Sports Team Transfer Ranking: No. 1
- Total number of transfers: 20
- 2022 record: 11-3
How one feels about USC's 2022 season is very subjective. On one hand, winning 11 games after going 4-8 the previous season and having quarterback Caleb Williams (an Oklahoma transfer) win the Heisman Trophy should be considered a success. However, the Trojans came away empty handed in the Pac-12 Championship and then lost to Tulane in the Cotton Bowl -- a game that saw USC mostly at full strength. You'd expect just a little bit more from the team that hauled in the top-rated class.
- 247Sports Team Transfer Ranking: No. 2
- Total number of transfers: 17
- 2022 record: 8-5
Lane Kiffin is viewed as one of the transfer portal kings, but some of the shine started to wear off in 2022. The Rebels went from 10 wins and a Sugar Bowl appearance in 2021 and carried that momentum into a scorching-hot start last season before falling on their face and losing five out of their last six contests. That included absolute embarrassments against the likes of LSU and Arkansas, and a 17-point loss to Texas Tech in the Texas Bowl. Most of Ole Miss' top transfers also underperformed to some measure. Kiffin was so unmoved by Jaxson Dart that he added two new quarterbacks via the portal for 2023.
- 247Sports Team Transfer Ranking: No. 4
- Total number of transfers: 14
- 2022 record: 6-7
Brent Venables inherited a tough situation. Lincoln Riley's sudden departure left the program in a state of shock, and Riley was more than happy to bring plenty of Oklahoma's top talent with him to USC. Even so, the Sooners entered the season No. 9 in the AP Top 25 poll and steadily fell out of the rankings. Things hit a new low in the second week of October with a 49-0 loss to rival Texas in the Red River Showdown, a loss from which Oklahoma never quite recovered. Quarterback Dillon Gabriel and cornerback C.J. Coldon were about the only transfers to make a memorable impact.
- 247Sports Team Transfer Ranking: No. 7
- Total number of transfers: 15
- 2022 record: 4-8
Scott Frost's seat entering 2022 was engulfed in flames and he was fired after just three games with Nebraska failing to make a bowl game after staking a lot on the transfer portal. Casey Thompson emerged as a serviceable starting quarterback and Trey Palmer was Nebraska's best receiver, but guys like Ochaun Mathis -- one of the most sought-after edge rushers in the portal -- failed to live up to expectations and defined this portal class.
- 247Sports Team Transfer Ranking: No. 12
- Total number of transfers: 11
- 2022 record: 5-7
Miami took a big chance by moving on from a fairly stable coach in Manny Diaz to bring in Oregon's Mario Cristobal. Cristobal, a former Hurricanes star, then assembled a staff featuring Broyles Award winner Josh Gattis and hit the portal hard to improve the Hurricanes' roster. So it is pretty disappointing that Miami missed out on even making a bowl game. The offense was so bad that Gattis was out after just a year. By comparison, Diaz at least took the Hurricanes to a bowl in his first year without the transfer portal's assistance.