As soon as Louisville wide receiver Tyler Harrell put his name into the transfer portal, there were reports connecting the speedy wideout to Alabama as his transfer destination.
A few days later, Harrell was on Alabama’s campus for a visit and it didn’t take much longer for him to announce his commitment to the Crimson Tide. The whole process — Harrell appearing in the portal on April 12 and committing to Alabama on April 22 — took 10 days, leading to questions about tampering.
Harrell caught 18 passes for 532 yards and six touchdowns last season, so he’s a notable addition for Alabama and a big loss for Louisville. Louisville head coach Scott Satterfield told 247Sports that he believes tampering took place with Harrell’s recruitment, though he has no way to definitively prove it.
“I think it’s not only him, it’s happened before here,” Satterfield told 247Sports. “Last year we had a few guys that jumped into the portal and the next day they’re announcing where they’re going. You can look at that and know that something went on before they were in the portal.”
Asked about that claim on Wednesday, Alabama head coach Nick Saban said his program doesn’t “tamper with anybody.”
“We don’t tamper with anybody. I don’t know of anything or anybody that tampered with him,” Saban said per Al.com.
Tampering more prevalent than ever in college football
In the current environment of college football that includes the one-time transfer rule and NIL payments, tampering has been a contentious offseason topic (just ask Pitt fans about the Jordan Addison situation).
Though teams are not permitted to speak with prospective transfers until their name is in the portal, you’ll often see a player enter the portal and announce a commitment to a new school in a matter of days. Commonly, there are communications behind the scenes — usually with a third party like a high school coach — to make those arrangements come to fruition.
Tampering has always gone on in the background, but it seems more prevalent than ever now that players have so much more freedom of movement than in years past.
“I think it’s really hard to control third parties — whether it’s direct or indirect,” Saban said. “When you have a guy leave your program and go someplace else the day after the game, it makes you wonder. Hopefully we have enough honesty and integrity out there amongst us professionally in our sport that people are going to abide by the rules.”
Alabama saw more than 20 of its players enter the transfer portal since last season. The Tide, though, added five transfers who are expected to be very impactful. In addition to Harrell, Alabama added ex-Georgia receiver Jermaine Burton, ex-Georgia Tech running back Jahmyr Gibbs, ex-LSU cornerback Eli Ricks and ex-Vanderbilt tackle Tyler Steen.
Louisville has also been active in the portal with running back Tiyon Evans and wide receiver Tyler Hudson among the team's most notable offseason additions.