Mike Locksley says issues with NIL, transfer portal had him questioning future for first time
Mike Locksley, like so many other coaches in college football right now, is exhausted.
Whereas 20 years ago a head coach was tasked with doing just that — coaching a football team — the modern college coach has become a fundraiser and a recruiter first. Find time to do the coaching stuff later. Or get your school to hand over a massive budget to hire an outstanding staff. (Hey, more fundraising.)
Roster management was always an inexact science, but with the ever-loosening restrictions around transfers and the unchecked NIL landscape, coaches like Locksley are getting worn down. Last week, a sitting Power Five coach left to take a coordinator position in the NFL, and he reportedly did so to get back to football.
Should college fans expect to see more coaches fleeing for the NFL?
Locksley went on SiriusXM radio on Thursday and said that after Maryland’s 2023 season, he briefly questioned his future.
“I’m never one to complain about the amount of work, but I can tell you for the first time in 33 years of coaching, I went home and said, ‘Am I really gonna have enough energy to do this for the long haul?'” Locksley said. “My hope is that we can put a guardrail around the NIL and the transfer portal stuff and create more accountability in terms of knowing.
“The hard part is you just can’t build a roster and know exactly who, what, when. So, for me, I think it’s going to be really important. There’s a lot of different things you have to do, but you have to prioritize when it’s time to coach football, we’ve got to coach football. I’ve been able to do that and I’ve got a staff of coaches that help me do that.”
The CFB landscape has been violently shifting lately, and as a result, some coaches are heading for calmer waters in the NFL.#Terps HC Mike Locksley on the turbulent tides, the need for guardrails, and how tired he was after this season.@ESPN_Schick | @BigAntHerron pic.twitter.com/NERNfXk2Gf
— College Sports on SiriusXM (@SXMCollege) February 8, 2024
Locksley has been the head coach at Maryland since 2019. Even in that amount of time, college football has changed dramatically.
And more changes could be on the way. Locksley’s league — the Big Ten — and the SEC are partnering to try and find ways to address issues that have bubbled to the surface in the NIL era. Absent real leadership, commissioners Greg Sankey and Tony Petitti are stepping up.