Gordon Monson: A disingenuous phrase is plaguing BYU and Utah, and every other football program in the country

The NCAA transfer portal is open — and everyone is laying it on thick, The Tribune columnist writes.

The new phrase taking college football by storm is: “With that being said.”

Utah and BYU players are using it, as are players at schools from coast to coast. It’s remarkable how often those four words are popping up. Some usages sound and seem sincere, a whole lot of them tie for the conference lead in duplicity.

Usually, the phrase is dropped in as follows:

”First and foremost, I’d like the thank God for my many blessings. Second, thank you to all my coaches and teammates at [name of school]. They’ve helped me grow as a person and as a player. The coaches believed in me and helped me so much over the past year. And my teammates have been in the trenches with me, encouraging me, rooting me on, pushing me, bringing out the best in me, becoming more than teammates, becoming forever friends.

“When I came to [name of school], I didn’t know what to expect. But my time here has taught me the value of focus, determination and hard work. The experience at [name of school] means the world to me. I’m a better man for having been a part of this program. WITH THAT BEING SAID, after much thought and prayer, after talking with my family and considering my future, I’ve decided to hit the transfer portal. I’m excited to see where my path takes me.”

You can plug those words or words similar to them into a majority of social media notices posted by athletes who are on the move. It’s as though there’s a form letter somewhere available to these guys where they can paste them straight into their posts. Those forms typically can be sorted and selected from three different categories: 1) Over-the-top expressive, filled to the brim with gratitude; 2) Expressive, marginally grateful; and far less common, 3) I’m getting out of Dodge.

I’m not complaining about transfers here. It’s not a bad thing for kids to have the opportunity to find a better fit on account of changing personal circumstances or a coach who lied to them or a wide-open chance to play elsewhere. It beats the old days when a coach could and sometimes would hold players hostage inside a program that didn’t work for them.

Now the pendulum has swung the other way, to the disadvantage and the advantage of coaches, what with players becoming so easily available to other circumstances. It’s now a lose-some, win-some proposition. Modern recruiting has become dependent on transfers, with coaches seeking to automatically plug holes in their already-secured talent, sometimes improving on talent that has no real hole to fill. Better is better. And if NIL resources are necessary to gain what some other program has, then … go get ‘em boys.

Nebraska coach Matt Rhule said recently the going price for a quarterback was $1.5 million. The best could get even more at other schools with even deeper pockets.

It is the free-market system at work.

Some have suggested that players become officially employed by schools and thereby sign an unbreakable contract, preventing them from moving hither and thither, or at least making it more difficult, but that scenario raises questions and problems that could become even more troubling for schools.

As is, freedom of player movement continues to take some time to get adjusted to for a good number of college football fans, fans who are loyalists. As mentioned, it’s better than it used to be back when institutions had almost all the money and all the power.

Still, what I find curious is how thick some of these dudes hitting the portal lay it on. The whole filled-to-the-gills-with-gratitude act smacks, at least in some cases, of insincerity and hypocrisy.

Athletes have their reasons for wanting to leave, and they vary from player to player, school to school. Some really are frustrated by a lack of playing time and see not just a crowded room, but a lack of commitment to them by coaches in the seasons ahead. Some do not like their position coaches. Some position coaches don’t like them. Some don’t like their teammates. Some want to play closer to home. Some show great promise and are offered more NIL benefits elsewhere.

Whatever. It’s good for who it’s for for whatever reason.

But spare us all the gratitude, the sweetness, the appreciation, the I-loved-it-here, the with-that-being-said song and dance. All that does is melt down the B.S. meter. If you loved it here so much, if you learned that much at [name of school], if it really built so much character, if the experience here was as good as you say it was, then …

Why are you leaving?

It would be easier to accept a farewell notice that either read: ”I’m outta here because these clowns didn’t play me enough,” or ”I’m gonzo because [name of school] is paying me a boatload more money than this [name of school] did.

Now that, everybody could accept and respect.