Transfers are an epidemic in high school football. Is there anything that needs to be done?
Has the transfer issue ever been worse than it is right now?
This week's Eyes on Five looks at an epidemic and how the word "transfer" -- synonymous with football itself -- has become an eight-letter word in DuPage County.
On the move:
On last week's podcast episode of "Tailgating with Dave and Kevin" we sat down with Naperville Central coach Mike Stine for a discussion about the numerous transfers joining his program the past few years, especially from within the DuPage Valley Conference.
Stine realizes it's not a great image but insists there's been no wrongdoing and Naperville Unit District 203 did its due diligence on each student athlete to make sure all was legitimate.
But still, there's talk ...
"Unfortunately that's where we are right now, the free agency of high school sports," Stine said. "So you need to build your program into something that people want it to be a destination. That's what we've done here.
"We've done nothing to do any recruiting, but what we do is try and make our program about more than wins and losses."
Look at any football roster and you'll find at least one player who was on a different roster the year before. High school sports are somewhat transient by nature, but transfers have become the new normal.
Heading into this year Wheaton North lost three projected starters to Wheaton Academy and two to Glenbard West.
That stands out.
Naperville North lost two of its better offensive players to Naperville Central.
That stands out.
In the past most player movement occurred before high school, and mostly with players picking a private school over a public school. Now players are changing schools even after their junior years. And it's happening with public schools as much as it is with private schools.
The question is responsibility. How much do you examine the schools getting the transfers and how much should the schools losing players look in the mirror at what they're doing?
Are players simply attracted to premier programs or is the situation more shady?
Opinions are mixed.
What to do?:
The IHSA is inundated with transfer complaints, often accompanied by evidence of noncompliance with eligibility rules.
A common complaint is that transferring players don't actually move into the districts to which they're transferring. Instead they're living in the same home while "borrowing" an address in the new district to gain eligibility there.
But without ironclad proof of wrongdoing, there's not much the IHSA can do. If the school accepting the transfer provides the appropriate documentation, that's pretty much the end of the debate.
The IHSA has no investigative wing responsible for staking out homes to make sure transfers are, in fact, living there. They can't catch people making inappropriate contact to recruit players.
Most football programs abide by the rules, and some circumvent the rules.
That's simply the nature of the beast that's been created.
As long as players from different schools mix at 7-on-7 events, college camps, etc., they'll talk. And they'll talk about wanting to play together.
Look at the receivers flocking to play with Naperville Central quarterback Sam Jackson, a Minnesota commit. Look at the receivers flocking to play with Michigan-bound Nazareth quarterback J.J. McCarthy.
The transfer train isn't slowing down anytime soon.
If anything it's just getting started.
Three is a magic number for Downers Grove North.
The Trojans enter the final three games of their season with a 3-3 record and face three teams -- Oak Park, Lyons Twp. and Downers South -- that all have 3-3 records.