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Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Caleb Williams. Photo: Adam Davis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Call it whatever you want, but free agency has come to college football.

By the numbers: More than 3,000 football players across all NCAA divisions have entered the transfer portal since Aug. 1. That includes over 1,400 FBS players — an average of 11 per team.

The backdrop: The portal was introduced in 2018 as a way to give student-athletes more freedom of movement. Then a pair of 2021 rule changes turned the offseason into a game of musical chairs.

  • Immediate eligibility: In April, the NCAA began allowing transfers to play for their new school immediately instead of waiting a year.
  • NIL changes: The NIL era began in July, giving athletes a reason to seek out programs that would maximize their earning potential.

The big picture: The transfer portal used to be a waiver wire for (mostly) backups in search of playing time. Now, even superstars are taking advantage, using it to explore their options and find the perfect fit.

  • QB Caleb Williams, a freshman phenom at Oklahoma, is one of many Sooners starters to enter the portal after Lincoln Riley's exit.
  • QB Dillon Gabriel, a three-year starter at UCF, is headed to Oklahoma less than three weeks after committing to UCLA (commitments from the portal are not binding).

The bottom line: Four years ago, players needed their coach's permission just to contact another school. Now, future NFL stars are getting an early glimpse of free agency — minus the contracts and rules.

Go deeper: Used to the coaching carousel? Meet the QB shuffle (SI)

Go deeper

Jan 7, 2022 - Sports

NFL eliminating Wonderlic test from draft process

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The NFL is eliminating the Wonderlic test from the pre-draft process, according to a memo obtained by the AP.

Why it matters: The IQ test has long been controversial given the lack of correlation between a player's score and his NFL success. Some also believe it has a built-in racial bias, like many standardized tests.

Updated 32 mins ago - Economy & Business

S&P 500 on track for worst-ever start to year

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Stocks suffered their steepest drop of the year early Monday, putting the S&P 500 on course for its worst-ever start to a year.

Driving the news: The benchmark S&P 500 dropped for its fifth straight day, with losses nearing 3% in early trading, momentarily putting it on track to fall into a "correction." Some of the steepest losses were recovered in early afternoon trading.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
2 hours ago - Health

Health care workers hit new breaking point

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The ranks of health care workers are dwindling and stretching what it means to be reaching their "breaking points," particularly at small nonprofit hospitals.

The big picture: Even as Omicron cases have begun to wane in some places, many hospitals are still fielding a crush of patients amid record employee callouts.