What the College Football Playoff rankings would be right now, and what the pecking order is, in the latest Cavalcade of Whimsy.
Sorry if this column sucks, it’s not my fault …
I picked the wrong week to send my poles out to get cleaned. My opening act can’t come close to touching this …
I promise, we are going to get to the fun stuff, like talking College Football Playoff, and other things like that, but first …
Everyone, I’m about to give the insider tip on the tech stock early.
For this to work, though, I need you all to make the intellectual leap with me when it comes to the new Pay For Fair Play jazz that’s going to quickly sweep through the college sports world.
WARNING: I can’t change the future. I can only see what’s going to happen, and you’re probably not going like it.
I’ve had over a dozen conversations over the past week or so with friends of the program and colleagues in the business about what’s about to happen in the college sports world, and they’ve all gone something like this …
Me: You’re all in on players and college athletes being able to generate revenue off of their fame and likenesses, right?
Friend of the Program (FOP): Yeah, of course. It’s about time this finally happened. It’s been long overdue.
Me: So you’re totally cool with players getting paid? If it was up to you, what would be your plan?
FOP: Something like what’s coming. I’m not really for colleges just straight up paying players as employees, but this way, you’re making someone else pay them. It works out for just about everyone.
Me: Everyone but the NCAA.
FOP: The NCAA will be fine. It’ll have to take on a new role, though.
Me: Like what?
FOP: Regulation. It’ll have to come up with a way to make sure this all works and runs smoothly.
Me: Regulate what? Game over. That’s it. Players will be able to take money.
FOP: Well, we don’t want to encourage cheating.
Me: What’s cheating? That whole concept is going to be blown up. So, let’s say Zion Williamson decides he likes Duke and wants to stay an extra year, so he cuts an eight-figure shoe deal with Nike to get the financial ball roll rolling … is that kosher?
FOP: Yeah, that’s perfect. The guy gets to stay in school and get paid.
Me: Okay, that’s basketball. Let’s say Trevor Lawrence wants to do a deal with Hair Club For Men after his freshman year … we’re good, right?
FOP: Of course.
Me: So what if XYZ State is a Nike school, and Nike wants to offer Johnny Five-Star 50k to sign on, and ABC Tech is an Adidas school, and it wants Mr. Five-Star, so Adidas gets into a bidding war offering him 60k of shoe deal money to sign on?
FOP: Uhhhhhh, that doesn’t seem right. That’s different. That’s recruiting to a school, not a player being at a school and profiting off of it …
Me: It’s a player capitalizing and profiting off of his likeness, right? What if Uncle Phil Knight REALLY wants a superstar prospect or transfer to go to Oregon – other Nike schools be damned – and offers that player a mega-contract and his own branded shoe to be a Duck. How’s that actually different than the Zion hypothetical?
FOP: The NCAA would likely regulate this by age and by players who had already signed on.
Me: Can’t do it. Age doesn’t matter in this, and the NCAA wouldn’t have any say if this becomes a federal law. Okay … what if Whatsamatta U. wants, say, a D’Eriq King type to come to its school. Can’t it get one of its sponsors or affiliates to pony up the ad dollar dough to entice him to transfer?
FOP: That would get so sticky so fast.
Me: But that’s the deal. What’s profiting off of likeness, and why is this being defined by doing an ad deal or a job? What if Jim Bob Booster wants to give a kid a big bag of cash or a car to sign on or transfer to his school? How is that wrong and Zion cutting a Nike deal okay? Both guys are getting paid for who they are …
FOP: No, not really. One is taking advantage of opportunities provided by playing at a school, and the other is just taking things to go to a school. There’s a difference.
Me: Sort of, but not really, and there’s not going to be any way to police this without being totally hypocritical. How is picking a school because one gives a kid a better overall financial package any different than a kid picking one school because he’ll get a scholarship over another that won’t?
And on and on it goes from there.
Everyone, get used to the idea in a big, big hurry that this is it. You can’t be just be a little bit pregnant here, or unring Julian Edelman’s bell after seeing Bill Belichick’s junk as he got out of the hot tub.
There is absolutely no difference between a kid cutting an ad or marketing deal and a kid getting money and benefits just because. Profiting off likeness is profiting off likeness no matter how it’s defined.
Once this starts, it’ll be off to the races. With the exception of dealing with gambling companies, there will be no realistic regulation when it comes to what a player can and can’t take, partially because it won’t be possible to go through the proper vetting on every deal.
The schools that put the pieces in place first will dominate. It’s going to take a professional marketing and financial sales pitch to players, and if someone is smart, it starts with next year’s recruiting class.
You know who’s going to figure this out the fastest? The players and recruits, because all it will take is one school and one pitch and one plan so show a guy how he’s going to profit, and everyone else will follow.
And you know what? As I keep saying throughout all of this …
It’s all going to be okay.
You’re still going to love college sports just as much, if not more, because more kids will stick around instead of turning pro early.
Okay, so ….
“… and left me as impotent as a Nevada boxing commissioner.”
What’s the NCAA’s move. What’s its ultimate goal here?
It has to relax. Once it figures out how this is all going to work, it’s a good thing.
The NCAA doesn’t need to care about the players making money. What’s it to them? In fact, it’s better if this new Pay For Fair Play thing kicks in, because 1) the NCAA doesn’t have to do anything, 2) the players become bigger stars to 3) help crank up the eye-balls on the product which 4) boosts up the ad revenue and TV and media deals.
What the NCAA can absolutely not live with is a player union.
If that happens, then the players are going to want a piece of the overall revenue, including TV money, concessions, gate sales, etc., and then it’s really on. As long as the players can’t figure out that side, the NCAA is okay.
So what if a player gets a few bucks for peddling some dumbass energy bar or insurance gimmick? As long as the NCAA doesn’t have to foot the bill for any of this, it’s all good.