What if the “Curt Flood of major college sports” turns out to be a Dawg?

The judge in the O’Bannon case has ordered the plaintiffs to add a current college student-athlete to the litigation roster.  Andy Staples speculates that

The player who steps forward will need to be either a football or men’s basketball player. For maximum effect, he’ll need to be a starter at a school in either the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 or SEC. He’ll need to be the type of player who gets lots of screen time when ESPN or Fox or CBS shows his team’s games. Essentially, he needs to be the type of player the networks are paying to show, even though an NCAA attorney argued — with a straight face, no less — on Thursday that networks merely pay for exclusive access to the venues and not the right to film the players at work.

Whomever that player may be, he’s going to take some heat.  And he’ll be looking at facing Manziel-level media attention.

Any player who does will get ripped in the media and by fans who want to cling to the illusion that sports with billion-dollar television deals are amateur enterprises. That player will have to be strong. Coaches and athletic directors will want him to fail, because money diverted to athletes means less money for them.

So here’s this morning’s question for you:  what if that player – Staples’ “Curt Flood” – is, say, Todd Gurley?  Would it change your perception of him?  And before you answer that question, ask yourself first if this fact makes any difference:

… According to the U.S. Department of Education, the average tuition at a four-year public school cost $2,550 in 1980. By 2011, that number had jumped to $15,918. That’s more than five times the price. That’s a steep rise. Now let’s look at the growth in revenue for one of the nation’s most successful conferences. In 1980, the SEC distributed $4.1 million to its member schools. In 2013, it distributed $241.5 million. That’s more than 58 times the 1980 figure…

Oh, and one more thing.  It’s not as if the NCAA shouldn’t have seen this coming.

… Steve Mallonee, the NCAA’s managing director of membership services, sent an email to Kevin Lennon, the NCAA’s vice president for membership services. The email came after a Princeton compliance official wrote to David Berst, the NCAA’s vice president for Division I, asking how EA Sports’ NCAA Football 06 could include such accurate, identifiable information about current players. Berst asked Lennon and Mallonee for an answer. Mallonee provided it. He closed with a question of his own.

“The jersey number along with the position and vital statistics is clearly an attempt to have the public make the association with the current student-athlete,” Mallonee wrote, according to a copy of the email placed in the O’Bannon case file by the plaintiffs. “And it appears to be working. The Best Damn Sports Show was aired several weeks ago and had Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush acknowledging that they were in the video game.

“That then raises the issue of whether getting in line with technology means being more restrictive or lenient with our rules. The article would imply that we might relax our rules a bit. The biggest concern I have is that such a position really does allow for the maximum commercial exploitation of the [student-athlete] and if that occurs, will it be long before we can defend not giving them a piece of the profits?”

That e-mail was sent eight years ago.  It’s amazing it’s taken this long for the NCAA to have to face the consequences… assuming there are any beyond legal fees.

But enough of that and back to the original question.  How much would it change your perception of the player and the sport if it were a Dawg who stepped forward to become the face of the O’Bannon complaint?

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39 Comments

Filed under College Football, The NCAA

39 responses to “What if the “Curt Flood of major college sports” turns out to be a Dawg?

  1. TennesseeDawg

    A.J. McCarron’s girlfriend is probably looking to extend her 15 minutes and snag another low budget diving show with D list stars. She could get him to do it.

  2. DawgPhan

    I probably wouldnt be extremely happy about it since I can only imagine it would detract from his studies and football, but taking a principled stand against something you think is wrong is almost always a net positive.

  3. DawgPhan

    I also hope that the outcome is more about making sure that this kids always have the option of returning to school to get a degree and funding some sort of national pension program for athletes.

    Unless the pay scale is mandated, I can only see the SAs getting raked over the coals in a different way. The schools and coaches are always going to have the deck stacked in their favor in the negotiations.

  4. The other Doug

    I wouldn’t like it because of the distraction it would cause, but I would understand him doing it.

    fwiw, I could see Clowney being the current athlete.

    • I could, too – one reason being that Spurrier probably would support him doing so.

      • DawgPhan

        he would be a great option. He is going to be the face of the sport for the next season anyway, and Spurrier has pushed the pay for play agenda in the past.

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        My response: Jadeveon Clowney.

          • CitadelDawg

            Is Clowney well-spoken enough to be a good fit? One of the attractions of a guy like Gurley is that he is intelligent and well-spoken, in addition to being incredibly gifted. Still, Clowney’s hit in the Michigan game has been shown in sports clips more than about anything else in the last year, so he’d of course make an excellent choice.

  5. Governor Milledge

    I think basketball will be a much likelier sport for the player to come out of… the NCAA directly controls the tournament and reaps its $$, so less of a proximate leap. Besides, the basketball player who broke his leg on Louisville seems to be a recent player-example who was commercialized purely for money’s sake (the RI5E UP t-shirts).

  6. Doug

    It’s funny that you cited “Manziel-level media attention” as a likelihood — Johnny Football was the first player to pop into my head as having the talent, the high profile and the DGAF attitude necessary to be your hypothetical test case.

    As to your actual question, though, I like to think I’d be proud if it were Todd Gurley or Aaron Murray who stepped up to be the face of the student-athlete in the O’Bannon case. Though I’m with all the commenters above who’d be crossing their fingers and hoping the added hype and scrutiny wouldn’t be detrimental to their on-field performance.

    • The 984

      Manziel has his own NCAA-cleared licensing scheme already. I doubt he’d be the one to do it.

    • Cojones

      Doug, you did my post. Either athlete may end up as an ongoing poster-boy playing representative, but Manziel has more aura that should be exploited already by EA and in the O’bannon lawsuit.

      It matters not where the plaqyer plays and since it isn’t being shared publically, I wonder if this is bait to demonstrate that EA’s coincidental usae of images could purposefully be curtailed by and used to convict the image users; i. e., similar to proving the negative in statistics. Of course, if they used the image, that coulde be proven as well. With or without a popular image, the NCAA appears cornered on this issue.

  7. paul

    My question is who, besides the NCAA and the schools, is actually still clinging to this idea of amateurism? Would it be a major distraction? Yes. The kind that could derail a season and even a career? Yes. Would the average fan be upset with the players? I think not. I believe the NCAA and the schools have everything to lose here. The players, not so much. If the schools don’t soon force the NCAA to start negotiating instead of fighting, I think they lose big time. Both in terms of money and reputation. Though they don’t seem to realize it at this point, the schools are going down with the ship. They’re not going to easily disassociate themselves from the NCAA once things start to go south.

  8. The 984

    I’m trying to remember the name of the rule right now, but I know that if the NCAA declares a student-athlete ineligible and that player sues for injunctive relief to be cleared to play, the school cannot play the player without being hit by a massive monetary penalty from the NCAA. I wonder if that rule – if an active player sues NCAA, school gets hit with a fine – would apply in a situation like this.

  9. Connor

    I would be proud if it were a UGA player. It would be like UGA vs the NCAA. I think I’d be more fired up for that than I would a rematch with Alabama in the SEC championship game.

    • CitadelDawg

      I’d be proud too. I’d love for it to be a UGA player, especially after the NCAA has treated UGA of late.

  10. mwo

    If it were Gurley, and he benefitted financially from the deal, would he want to stay for his senior year since he was making money anyway?

    • That’s a question I’ve wondered about as well.

      If paying players had the effect of causing more of them to remain for their senior season, you’d think that would make fans happier, no?

      • mwo

        I would see that as a win-win. The only caveat would probably be for sure first rounders-they would probably command more stupid money from the NFL than from their stipend.

        • Well, remember on the football side you’ve got rookie caps in place now, so it’s not the kind of money Stafford got for leaving early.

          • The 984

            It’s not Stafford-level money, but it’s still probably more than whatever they’d get from O’Bannon results. The #32 pick from this year’s draft is projected to get around $3.3 million as a signing bonus and a first year salary of $1.2 million. The #1 pick is $14.5 million and $4 million.

      • dagh

        Until this point, I thought Clowney would be the perfect guy to do this, but I’m really looking forward to his draft day.

        Count me among those who would be proud to see a Georgia player be the one to sign on, though I imagine Adams has already issued some sort of memo to insure that would not be allowed. After all, he’s not yet gone and he’s all about the bank bal–er, academics.

  11. Joe Schmoe

    I would fully support anything aimed at bringing down the total farce that is the NCAA. Plus it would probably make Mike Adams mad as hell.

  12. Cousin Eddie

    The NLI will be amended to force the player to give up all right to broadcast and compensation if the NCAA loses. The schools might have to pay the current players until graduation or they are kicked out of school or forced to re-sign but I see the schools forcing kids to give their right to compensation up, if that is legal.

  13. There’s a pretty good solution out there proposed in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Not sure I agree with the concept of agents. This probably makes too much sense for the NCAA to agree to it:

    http://leatherhelmetblog.com/2013/06/22/ncaa-division-x/

    • Cojones

      That good-feeling wish list doesn’t take up issues forced by opening this Pandora’s Box. If O’Bannon wins, it will be tantamount to the SEC scheduling problem and will end with contractural negotiations for players receiving compensation commensurate with their projected individual maketability. A class-action suit will follow that encompasses what each individual player on the team contributed to that single player’s marketability.

      Talk about a slippery slope!!

      • A class-action suit will follow that encompasses what each individual player on the team contributed to that single player’s marketability.

        If you’d bother to read something about O’Bannon, you’d find that you can’t bring a class-action lawsuit unless there’s a commonality of claims. Single-player marketability by definition would destroy the class.

      • I agree but this is a solution to move forward if the NCAA survives or another governing body takes its place. I think the NCAA and its member institutions are going to need to take it in the shorts on this one and try to minimize the damage.

  14. Hobnail_Boot

    Y’all think contribution and ticket prices are high now? Just wait until the “stipend” can of worms is opened.

    • 202dawg

      This is my worry as well. That’ll REALLY price the average fan out of attending games…

    • Doug

      Maybe that’s what McGarity is keeping that $70 million “emergency fund” around for.

    • Monday Night Frotteur

      Athletic departments are using market pricing now for everyone except students. They aren’t running charities.

      The distribution of the revenue that’s collected will change, obviously. Coaching and athletic-director salaries would drop and and non-revenue sports construction would slow down…

      • Good points – the only wild card in this is Title IX. If athletic departments start shedding non-revenue sports, another round of lawsuits will start to keep volleyball, equestrian, etc. Football and men’s basketball at most big-time athletic programs subsidize the non-revenue producing sports from scholarships, coaches, to facilities. I could see a school like UGA shed men’s swimming and diving to keep the women’s program vibrant and shed track and field overall to keep the golf and tennis programs.

  15. W Cobb Dawg

    Clowney came to mind first. One would think a player like AM would be a good candidate – high profile, terrific grades, and all but finished with school too.

    If only it could be Kolton Houston – payback would be swweeeet!!!

  16. jones-25

    I share the concerns about the distractions involved. But Gurley just might surpass Hershel as my favorite Bulldawg if he leads us to a Natty and takes down the NCAA in the same season.