Waking Up To Bad Reality In One Of America’s Top Sports
Ever since the last of the confetti fell to the turf after Alabama’s latest National Championship, I have been off the college football grid, enjoying other aspects of being on Planet Earth such as March Madness, going to the beach and getting back to a normal life in what is hopefully now a post-pandemic era.
Now that summer is here, I am still in beach mode but have opened an eye knowing that the season is coming up in September and by August it will be more of a focus.
And I awoke to some startling developments: a proposal of a 12-team playoff and something called the NIL, which stands for name, image and likeness which will enable the players to make money by appearing in things like commercials, just like the pros.
There have also been other happenings in the sport, most prominently Arizona State apparently having recruits on campus during the COVID non-contact period in a blatant NCAA rules violation.
But for now, I am focusing on the two other college football bombshell by providing my analysis on the playoff proposal and NIL.
12-Team College Football Proposal
At first, I thought I had just woke up from one of those deep-sleep dreams with me saying “oh man, glad that is not really happening, whew!”
But something called “Alabama fatigue” has led the media to push for – and decision makers to consider – allowing 12 teams into the playoff system. What a joke and here’s why:
• There are never, ever 12 worthy teams of anything beyond an ordinary bowl game.
• It weakens the best regular season in any sport.
• It rewards the weak and the underachievers.
• It’s unfair. Not all conferences are the same and not all teams play in tough conferences.
• Not all teams with good records are worthy of a playoff spot.
• No matter how many teams you include in a playoff, there will always be fans complaining – and media covering – the one that got left out of it. Hell, March Madness has 68 teams and all you hear about are the ones that didn’t make it into “the Show.”
My Opinion: A 12-team playoff will dramatically reduce the week-in, week-out drama that makes college football unique to all sports. I am 100% against it.
Name, Image & Likeness (NIL)
How is this going to work exactly? My fear here is that it is quickly going to get out of control – out of control for the coaches, the athletic departments and the NCAA. If the latter still is in business; some sports columnists are suggesting it won’t be but I believe it will because every sport at every level needs a sanctioning body in order for it to exist in the first place.
And by out of control I mean, imagine the money boosters will be tossing at players – and recruits – to do ads for their car dealership or business. Suddenly, coaching staffs and facilities may not matter as much to a 5-star quarterback recruit as how many ads and endorsements he gets in a particular market.
The players could be like free agents in professional sports – sign with the highest bidder.
This will give tremendous advantages to some programs and will benefit programs in states that have passed NIL legislation over ones that have not (this is another element that bounces the ball around like a squib kick) and even more so to prosperous programs.
Think about it – a player at Alabama, Notre Dame, Clemson, Oklahoma, Ohio State and other successful high-profile programs will get more exposure than ones at smaller programs that are not on big-time TV as much and thus will be able to command more money.
Rabid fan bases will be another contributing factor in determining how much an athlete is paid: you can bet a player at Florida or Georgia will make more money than one at Northwestern or Cincinnati.
My Opinion: I realize that athletes want to be compensated for their likeness being used by companies but am fearful the effect of companies throwing money at players will have on the game.
The players already get access to a free college eduction worth at about 50K a year, a free luxurious dorm room, incredible meals overseen by professional nutritionists, the best medical care in the world and many other perks not available to other students.
One of those is being popular with the ladies on campus, something that should no go overlooked in a college environment.
Kevin Wilkerson has covered college football for daily newspapers and writes commentary on PubClub.com.