The NCAA has what I would describe as a GI Joe Kung Fu grip on it's athletes. The moment an athlete signs a letter of intent to a university to play college football, they have essentially kissed the metaphorical ring of the NCAA. This is due to rules and regulations which restrict athletes in a way which they will not experience as a professional. The NCAA locks an athlete into football for a very sizable chunk of the year and eliminates almost any opportunity for them to make money. People will ask about scholarships and all that which I'll touch on occasionally. Paying for a student-athlete's education isn't necessarily a bad thing but I point to Richard Sherman's "hungry nights" comment. Richard Sherman is one of the few student athletes who are fortunate enough to experience success in the NFL but not every athlete pans out that way. For every blue chip Michael Vick, Terrelle Pryor, Cam Newton, or Adrian Peterson, there is a JaMarcus Russell out there. I don't just mean based off of talent, but their current situations. Michael Vick just retired after a 13-year (though highly controversial) career. Terrelle Pryor has gone from a decent starting QB to a star WR in Cleveland during a major career revival. Cam Newton won the 2016 MVP NFL award and is the face of the Carolina Panthers franchise. Adrian Peterson won the 2012 MVP and he has managed to have a HOF career that has only recently been plagued by injury. Currently, JaMarcus Russell played for 2 seasons in the NFL after a lengthy holdout for a lucrative contract. Though he was labeled as a draft bust, he made much more money than most current college football players will ever see in their lives.
Think about it like this, say each college football team in the nation has a 90 man roster. Let's just use 50 schools across the nation. (These numbers are not representative of any average but we're putting this into an easy math perspective) That adds up to 4,500 football players a year. Now let's assume 25% of them are seniors (true or redshirt). That's 1,125 seniors who are going to be done with collegiate football at the end of the season. How much money have they made from playing football for the past 4 years? None. Zilch. Zero dollars and zero cents. This is because of rules that prevent athletes from being paid for play, receiving benefits, and having agents. These are the same rules that didn't allow Terrelle Pryor and Cris Carter to be selected in the NFL draft. They went on to have great careers in the NFL and Carter eventually became a HOF-er. Those two were the only players of note (based on career success in case you want to point out Brian Bosworth) I could find from EVERY player selected in the supplemental draft. Being caught for an NCAA violation isn't a death sentence by being sent to the supplemental draft but let's put things into a bit of perspective. You can beat a woman, beat a man, beat a kid, have gang affiliations, and even be accused of sexual assault (looking at you Crab Legs) and still enter the NFL draft where you can make absurd amounts of money based on athletic ability alone. Meanwhile coaches like Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, and many other big name coaches get to sip their metaphorical tea while their metaphorical slaves pick some metaphorical cotton for 3-5 years.
"But wait these kids are rewarded with an education" "But muh scholarships" So what? I'll probably be getting scholarships and I've barely scraped together 2 seasons through 2 different sports that I was nowhere near good at. You can get a full ride anywhere you want, that's great but that college has you by the balls till the day you graduate even if you don't have to worry about student loans. Richard Sherman's "hungry nights" alone should give people a glimpse at the life of a scholarship athlete. You can't hold a reliable source of income, you are bound to practices and workouts, you can't profit off your own signature, and yet the school can make thousands of dollars off of your jersey, your hard work, and your hours you've given up to succeed at your sport. I'm obviously very hard set to this opinion and everyone is entitled to their own but I just want people to get a better idea of where I'm coming from.
For the past couple months there have been whispers of a rumored league for college students and free agents to essentially function as semi-pros. In order to participate, athletes would forgo college eligibility but it also serves as a way for athletes to hone their skills against proven vets and would give the vets a way to hopefully make their way back into the league. I originally thought it would be a great idea but eventually I realized that it probably wouldn't reach the level of the NBA D-League. I mean this in a way that teams can assign a player to a D-League team and call them up. There's also the MLB Minor Leagues where it's essentially a farm system which has proven extremely effective. The MLB Minor Leagues allow teams to promote and demote players within their own organization without having to rush their development and prevents many players from being called the dreaded B-word. Busts. It takes a lot for a major professional sport to have a successful farm system.
Assuming the logistics all get worked out and we skip the boring stuff, (save that for the math nerds), an NFL D-League or at least a Spring League would be interesting. Even if it's just a 7 on 7 spring league held before free agency officially kicks off to give teams a chance to see what free agents have to offer. This can give aging players who were cut due to cap space and veterans who have been out of the league for years alike a chance to at least play their sport. Or if you want to make it only for players in that year's draft, you can see how guys from FCS and D-III schoos stack up against Power 5 stars in a process structured like the Senior Bowl. Let some coaches get their hands on some prospects, put them on the same team, and pit them against one another. If it works for seniors why can't it work for red shirt sophomores, red shirt juniors or true juniors? I think it would make the draft cycle more interesting if anything. The players would already be declared for the draft so it's not like there are any NCAA violations occurring. It might not be the most feasible idea but it would be kind of cool to see how it would look if it were tested out.
5 Pennies For My Thoughts
- The NFL isn't ready for Jabrill Peppers
- Pineapple is perfectly fine on pizza
- Terell Owens deserves to be in the Hall Of Fame
- Dez caught it
- I just saw the official announcement. 4.22 John Ross congratulations