Dabo Swinney thinks that spring practice ought to wrap up with an exhibition game against another school.
Paul Chryst will wrap up Pitt’s spring practice… with a practice.
You try to save a buck here and there and look what it gets you.
A minor change in the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement with its players, which was signed in 2011, is being blamed for a shift so dramatic, some within the game are fearful that college football’s talent base and recruiting system may never be the same. Put simply: Players are rushing to leave school early and go pro like never before.
This year, there will be at least 98 underclassmen available in May’s draft, a 34% increase from 2013 and an 85% increase from 2010, the year before the latest collective bargaining agreement. The average age of an NFL player last season was 26 years 308 days, the youngest since 1987.
That “minor change” doesn’t sound so minor to me.
For the first couple of decades in which underclassmen were allowed in the draft, teams spent huge sums of money on the top picks. A high draft selection thus could leave a player set for life. For instance, the top overall selection in 2010, current St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford, got a six-year, $78 million contract before throwing a single pro pass. He received 13 times more guaranteed money than the second round’s top pick, teammate Rodger Saffold.
In an effort to fix the salaries of top picks—and thus prevent unproven players from getting so much money—the latest CBA called for reform. In the 2013 draft, the first pick, Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Eric Fisher, got a four-year, $22 million deal, a fraction of what Bradford received. There is also much less difference between picks. Fisher will make only double what the 15th pick in the draft makes, while the first pick in the second round received about a fourth of Fisher’s salary.
And evidently it doesn’t sound so minor to college players and agents. Which means it doesn’t sound so minor to college coaches, either.
LSU is an unfortunate example of the new world order. It was one thing for the Tigers to lose star receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry to this year’s draft; those types of departures are expected. But LSU also lost redshirt sophomore guard Trai Turner, who isn’t considered a top prospect. LSU coach Les Miles couldn’t be reached for comment.
Of course, the NFL isn’t willing to shoulder any blame.
An NFL spokesman said the league “does not agree with the idea that the system is the reason players are jumping early.” The league added that the spike in early departures can’t be explained by the change in pay scale because, after the first round, the majority of rounds in the draft saw few dramatic changes in the pay scale. The NFLPA and NCAA didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Must be a coincidence, I guess. Still, the pros are among the worried.
This makes for increasingly uneasy drafts, said Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert, who called this the deepest draft he has seen in 30 years of scouting. “Even though it’s the most talented group that I have seen, I am also worried that it’s probably the most immature group,” he said.
And as we all know, it’s not like there’s a minor league for NFL teams to park kids who need more time to ripen on the vine, so to speak. What to do? Well, ask a guy who knows what it’s like to find a place to park kids.
The situation worries Nutt, the ex-college coach, who said that in the late 2000s, a measure was floated at a Southeastern Conference coaches meeting to explore allowing players who left early to return to their teams if the draft didn’t work out. Nutt said the idea, which he agreed with, didn’t get very far.
The Nuttster was just a little bit ahead of his time there. The proposal makes too much sense now for too many vested interests to sit in a closet for much longer. I smell an NCAA rule change coming on. The hard part is going to be coming up with an amateurism fig leaf to explain it away.
Nom, nom, nom…
Some mid-day nourishment for you.
If you ask the coach for the Dutch speed skating team why the US failed to medal at the Winter Olympics in the sport, he’s got a very simple answer for you.
“You have a lot of attention on a foolish sport like American football and you waste a lot of talent, athletic talent, on a sport that is meant to kill each other, to injure each other. … You’re so narrow-minded, and then you want to compete against the world [in other sports] when you waste a lot of time, good talent on a sport that sucks,” he said.
It’s good to know I’m the narrow-minded one.
(h/t Smart Football)
There’s always something to grab.
This is a pretty good exchange between Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter and one of the school’s attorney at yesterday’s NLRB hearing in Chicago:
Another Northwestern attorney, Anna Wermuth, asked Colter whether playing football was, in itself, part of the education process. Does it help players learn to ”critically analyze information?” she asked.
”We learn to critically analyze a defense,” said Colter, who ended up studying psychology.
If the Northwestern players can’t get certified as a union, maybe they ought to fight for the right to a football major.
Damn, if this isn’t the saddest thing I’ve read in a while, I don’t know what is.
… For Georgia, heat certainly plays a role, though the exact reason for the school’s precipitous decline in student attendance still seems to be a mystery. This year, the University of Georgia cut its student section capacity from 18,026 to 16,200. Despite overselling on purpose (17,212), the school’s scanners revealed this sad fact: An average of 28.8 percent of those who bought tickets didn’t show up to home games.
Benjamin Wolk, a senior at the school who is a football beat writer for the student newspaper The Red & Black, says one of the reasons for the no-shows is because of a stale game atmosphere that caters to the old money that wants the traditions of decades ago.
“One thing Clemson, Vanderbilt and Auburn all had in common was a crazy stadium atmosphere,” Wolk said. “At Georgia? Traditional music and a PA announcer barely yelling ‘Let’s make some noise ‘on third down.”
Vanderbilt? Dude, seriously?
This, mind you, after a year in which Georgia played two of the most thrilling games I’ve had the pleasure of watching between the hedges. But evidently it takes a shot or three of fake juice to get Wolk’s generation motivated to put in an appearance.
Or, even sadder, outright bribery.
Since taking the job in 2010, Arizona’s athletic director Greg Byrne says he actively has to push students to not only get to the game, but also stay there once they arrive. After he saw defections at halftime, the message on the back of shirts given to the students called the Zona Zoo this year was as blatant as he could make it: “Zona Zoo STAYS the entire game.”
He moved the band closer to the student section, brought in a group of people called the Zona Zoo Crew to keep people at the game and then actually decided to give away cash prizes, which students could only claim their prize after the game ended.
For its first two home games, the school gave away a total of $5,000 that was to be equally split among 10 student fans.
The punchline? “Even that wasn’t a complete success, as three of the $500 prizes went unclaimed.”
Overall, attendance may be up, but students sound like they don’t give a shit. And athletic department administrators sound like they don’t have much of a clue about how to rectify the situation. I mean, how much can better seating and Wi-fi access help fix this?
“People would rather stay at fraternity houses with unlimited food, booze and a big-screen TV than make the trek to the stadium… Phone service is terrible during games and it’s hard to stay in touch with the world for the three hours you’re in the stadium.”
Yes, because staying in touch with the world is what you worry about most when you spend your entertainment dollar. (No wonder I don’t go to the movies anymore.)
Hey, it’s Darren Rovell and a small sample size. I get that. But you can’t brush aside the attendance data he cites. The reality is that there’s a significant part of the student fan base at schools all over the country that’s tuning out of attending games. And once lost, it’s unlikely they’ll return.
There’s a limit on how convenient you can make the in-game experience. There are only so many entrances, bathrooms and concession stands you can cram into a 90,000-seat stadium. Immediate gratification is a losing proposition when you’re selling football tickets. Just ask some kid named Aaron Stillman:
“The problem is in all the other areas. There’s nothing to do while I’m waiting on line for an hour to get into the stadium, and there’s little added value from being in the stands watching the game.”
And he’s one of the ones who showed up.
The long-term consequences of this are troubling. If the number of folks buying tickets declines over time, there are basically two ways to embrace the suck: accept the shrinking numbers and raise prices to make up the lost revenue (see, Atlanta Braves) and tie your fate even more strongly to television revenues. Neither really thrills me.
Maybe I’m overreacting. But it sure feels like another way college football is slowly getting away from me.
Grab that plate and fill it up.
Is it just me, or does John Swofford’s victory dance over the end of conference realignment seem a bit premature?
I mean, aren’t we just one new broadcast deal away (the Big Ten’s gonna start negotiating one next year) from the major conference commissioners pulling out their Johnsons again to see who has the biggest? And we all know that conference realignment is like Viagra when that happens.