In the modern era of sports consumption, we seem to know everything there is to know about our favorite athletes, and we often know it as early as their teenage years – remember LeBron’s games airing on ESPN during his high school career, or all of the attention that a young Bryce Harper got? Whether it’s their family background, the neighborhoods they grew up in, the prep programs they developed their skill sets in, or often (and usually most focused on by the social media populace), their significant others.
This is just as true for collegiate athletes as it is for professionals – we’re just as likely to learn about the love life of a widely famous player like Odell Beckham Jr. as we are to learn about the love life of the second string quarterback out of Cal State – Fresno (for the record, his name is Logan Fife). With the 24 hour news cycle and the always-online nature of sports fandom, even a sport that can be as local/regional as NCAA Football has a huge number of people tuned into the comings and goings of their favorite athletes in every sense, on both a personal level & public level.
With that level of attention comes a lot of speculation and predictions on the future of an athlete based on their love life. Take, for instance, earlier in the year when the Twitter-sphere was abuzz with predictions and thoughts on where Oklahoma QB Caleb Williams would end up after entering the transfer portal. Seemingly everyone wanted him to come to their school, and many different predictions were out there – some of which were based around his girlfriend, Valery Orellana, a student at the University of North Carolina.
Previously, the Girlfriend Transfer Theory (as it ended up being called) gained notoriety when Adrian Martinez, Kedon Slovis, and others entered the transfer portal to move to schools at which their significant others were located. In a way, it makes a lot of sense – if you have your pick of the best programs in the country, and you can choose to live anywhere (in the U.S.) for a few years prior to being locked into a specific location once your professional career begins, why not move to where your partner is?
Now, we can’t say one way or the other whether the Girlfriend Transfer Theory ended up being a factor for Caleb Williams, as we know now that he chose to go to the University of Southern California to reunite with his former coach Lincoln Riley. But there’s definitely something to be said for the theory in general, and it’s entirely possible we’ll see another major transfer in the near future who makes a move to be closer to their partner. In this instance, Williams clearly determined that following his highly acclaimed coach was the superior move to following his girlfriend. In a world as cutthroat as NCAAF, every competitive advantage matters, and joining the USC program with Riley at its head was the superior choice for Williams.