ST. LOUIS — A colleague of mine likes to remind me of the classic Jerry Seinfeld bit that when it comes to sports, we're ultimately cheering for laundry.
Obviously it's more nuanced than that and sports mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people, but I've been reminded of that "laundry" phrase lately with the ongoing madness of the transfer portal in college athletics.
Locally, we've seen the portal giveth and the portal taketh away.
At Missouri, new head coach Dennis Gates has completely rebuilt the team's roster in just a few weeks and has fans fired up about the new direction. He did lose standout Trevon Brazile, who had been one of the most exciting players on last year's roster, to a loaded program at Arkansas.
At SLU, Travis Ford is now tasked with finding a replacement for his NCAA assist-leading point guard with Yuri Collins entering the transfer portal.
Collins' departure proves that just about anyone can leave. A St. Louis native, SLU was hoping for big things from one of the best point guards in the country next year. Now, he's off to greener pastures and the Billikens' plans are going to require some major tweaking.
You don't have to look far on Twitter to find just about every kind of take you could think of regarding the transfer portal. I'd say most belong right in the dumpster.
But for fans, I do think the current state of college athletics provides a simple message: Don't get too attached.
No matter how much you love a player, you can't count on them being around for very long. The transfer portal and name, image and likeness opportunities have created a sort of perpetual free agency feel for college athletes.
You can whine and complain that it's not like it used to be, but the facts are pretty simple. The players have the power, and they're going to use that power to put themselves in the best situation they can find.
Whether the ideal situational fit is about playing time, NIL opportunities or fleeing a deteriorating situation, players are controlling their own destiny more than ever.
After seeing the NCAA structure take advantage of student-athletes for so long, it's been nice to see the people responsible for the billion-dollar industry finally be able to get something for their talents.
From the outside looking in, it does feel like the wild west out there. There's always been tampering and not-so-squeaky-clean deals getting done under the table in college athletics, but with teams now able to deploy mountains of NIL opportunities, it feels like it's been ramped up to 11.
I don't have a resolution. I think this is just life in college athletics now. The programs that best know how to give their athletes chances to make money are going to be the ones who get the best players. Arkansas basketball certainly has things figured out.
Mizzou is making strides in that department thanks in large part to former hoops star Laurence Bowers.
SLU announced on Tuesday they were getting more structured when it comes to NIL opportunities, establishing a hub where Billiken student-athletes can connect with businesses, donors and alumni.
That may be too little, too late to keep Collins from bolting for a bigger payday, but at least it's a start.
It was already hard to keep the area's top talent in Missouri without the NIL wrinkle. Now, if schools like Mizzou and SLU don't step up their game, recruits will have another reason to look elsewhere for playing and financial opportunities.