The NCAA's archaic transfer rules may have finally met their match—at least in the case of athletes who overachieve in the classroom.
Alabama quarterback Blake Barnett has decided to transfer from the university just four games into his redshirt freshman season, and he's gotten plenty of criticism for that from blowhards who would leave their current jobs for better ones in a second. But by leaving now, Barnett would be able to play the majority of next season, rather than sitting out for a full year, as transfer rules usually dictate.
247Sports spoke to an "FBS compliance source" and found a potential loophole, which would allow Barnett to essentially do a year at a junior college in less time:
According to bylaw 14.5.6 in the NCAA transfer guide, Barnett as a 4-2-4 transfer (four-year institution, to a junior college, and back to a four-year institution), can be eligible one calendar year from the date of his transfer from Alabama so long as he graduates with a GPA above 2.5 over an average of 12 hours per term at the certifying institution of Barnett's choosing.
That's a situation that happens frequently pre- and post-semester. The timing of Barnett's transfer is what makes him a possible trailblazer: He'd be eligible to play the conference schedule at his next destination.
Essentially, because Barnett already has so many credits from Alabama—he enrolled early, so he has even more than the typical redshirt freshman—he could graduate from junior college in less than a year, then be ready to play for his new team by this time next year. 247Sports also spoke to another source who thinks Barnett would be eligible at the start of next season, rather than five games in.
And to be sure, there will be interest in Barnett, even if he can't play for the first three-to-four games of next season. A former five-star recruit, Barnett was the second-ranked pro-style quarterback in the 2015 class. And he becomes an even hotter commodity now that he'll be ready as a near-immediate option for some school.
The NCAA transfer rules are unfair and excessively anti-athlete. Schools claim that athletes aren't employees, but give them non-compete clauses in their contracts and ban them from going to certain schools. The deck is stacked against athletes in every imaginable way, and when former players and media members like Danny Kannell pit them as villains against this machine, you really get a sense of just how stacked. However, for a select few players, it appears Barnett has been able to subvert that mess. Good for him, and good on him.