Is amateurism about to get a real market-based threat?

Oliver Luck, who once was one of the higher-ups in the NCAA’s chain of command and is now the commissioner of the reconstituted XFL, isn’t exactly saying his league is ready to sign kids who don’t want to stay in college for three years, but he’s not kicking the possibility out of bed either.

… Players have to be three years out of high school to be eligible for the NFL Draft.

During a December podcast interview with with Brian Berger of the Sports Business Radio Road Show, Luck said flatly: “We’re not subject to that.”

“Theoretically we could take a player right out of high school. I doubt we’ll do that,” Luck said, noting the difference in physical development between an 18-year-old and the 24-to-25-year-old fringe NFLers they plan to build their base from.

“But I wouldn’t rule it out,” Luck said. “Nor would I rule out taking a player who played a year of college football and let’s say isn’t eligible academically, which happens. Or a player who is two years out of college, and is transferring, and would have to sit out a year. A lot of guys don’t want to. . . . We are in that position to be able to take players who wouldn’t be eligible to play in the NFL. . . .

“But that’s an option that we have and we’re going to look at it long and hard. There are a lot off very good college players after a year or two who may not want to play that third year of college football, may need to earn a little money, support the family. That’s not uncommon as well.”

You can almost hear Mark Emmert whining, “why that ungrateful son of a bitch… after I took him in and showed him everything I know.”

Now, remember, this is a long way from reality.  The XFL isn’t even hitting the field until 2020.  Events like the Alston case may overtake Luck before then.  And as much as the schools may pretend otherwise, I really doubt they’ll simply let an upstart league peel away the biggest names in college football without countering.  (Then again, this is the NCAA we’re talking about, so who really knows if there would be a coherent response.)

But for those of you who have been hoping for an alternative that would take some pressure off the player compensation front, maybe this is the opportunity you’ve been hoping for.  Maybe worth keeping an eye on…


Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

16 responses to “Is amateurism about to get a real market-based threat?

  1. Russ

    Maybe this will become the development league the NFL needs, and we can get back to playing college football with college students, not forcing kids to go to college in order to develop football skills.

    Nah, who am I kidding?


  2. TN Dawg

    This is very good news indeed.

    Honestly, it’s the best strategy for the XFL. If the NBA had the same rules as the NFL, a challenger league that had a high school grad Lebron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett is a much better product than a challenger league comprised solely of Chad Kesslers, no offense intended to Mr. Kessler.

    Yes, they will lose their best players to the NFL after 2-3 years, but they would merely replenish with the next batch. As a sports nut, rather than view the product as B grade football, it would be somewhat intriguing to watch a future stars league.


  3. Bright Idea

    As for the real market, will this new league ever amount to a hill of beans if it depends solely on fans buying tickets and TV? I’m unclear on the financing of the XFL and how many eyeballs it will draw or if they even care.


  4. ASEF

    TV history is littered with the corpses of start-up football leagues.

    Is there one person on this board who would watch an XFL team if all of Georgia’s 2018 and 2019 recruiting classes had gone that route instead? I’m not watching the NFL. Why would I waste time watching a watered down version of it?

    Bowl games get ratings, so it’s easy to think that football games on TV print money. Maybe 10th time is the charm?


  5. Macallanlover

    Between XFL and The Alliance, I hope one becomes a development league and succeeds by just taking some of the “can’t wait” crowd that just thinks of the next couple of years. Also a chance for the guys who didn’t make it their first chance at the NFL. Take them out of HS is they wish, don’t really want to go the basketball way with one and dones. I will give the Alliance a look next month when there is no sports I am interested in watching during their playing season, February to last April ( except The Masters).


  6. JCDawg83

    If there is an option for the dumb superstar players to continue playing after high school without colleges having to torture their entrance requirements so they can play college ball, I’m all for it. Let the NCAA turn up the pressure on the NFL too by requiring high school football players to have grades and scores equal to 90% of the previous year’s incoming freshman class to be eligible for scholarships.


  7. Tony Barnfart

    I think the Alliance is being pretty smart about openly saying “we are complimentary, not a competitor to the NFL.” They are also filling their rosters with players who played (and some who starred) at nearby D-1 schools. It seems like 90% of the Memphis Express roster played at schools in Tennessee or the SEC West. They have 10 former LSU players, some of whom were household names among SEC fans, including Zach Mettenber and Kenny Hilliard. I’m definitely going to check it out.


  8. Who watches minor league baseball? Nobody.

    Who is going to watch the Alliance or the XFL beyond a little curiosity? About the same people who watched the XFL the first time around, NFL Europe, Arena Football, the USFL and the WFL. Throw in the US ESPN audience for the CFL.

    It’s a money loser. If the NFL owners thought they could make a buck on putting 18-21 year olds along with some borderline guys who couldn’t cut it in the NFL as a developmental league, they would have done it long ago.


    • Ralph C Freeman

      Who’s going to watch college football? The level of play this league is going to put on the field will presumably be better than the NCAA. And play in the spring, the football junkies will watch due to no competition.


      • I watch college football due to the G. Minor league baseball is a better level of play than college baseball. I don’t see ESPN lining up to write a big check for AAA baseball on its networks. They don’t even show the minor league championship series, but the WWL shows every game of the College World Series and the Women’s College World Series.

        If the NFL owners thought they could put a better product on the field than the colleges that made money, they would have done it already.


        • Chopdawg

          Just so you know: 36,678,534 fans paid to see affiliated MiLB baseball games last season. Leader in attendance was the Charlotte Knights, who sold 619,639 tickets.


  9. Ralph C Freeman

    If a 5 star is not interested in college, and is willing to sign a 3 year contract, why wouldn’t they sign him? He might be a role player his 1st year, but maybe a star his last 2. The buzz he got from the recruiting would translate into nice PR for the league as well. I so hope this evolves into a viable option for young men who need something like this. If the NCAA tries to cut this off, it would mean their death in the courts, and I for one would fully support that.


  10. 69Dawg

    How are the ratings for the D League? ESPN is televising them I think. I don’t watch B Ball. Just remember that Fox, CBS and NBC have 24/7 sports channels and you can bet they will want some of the XFL. CBS is already in on the AAF for one game a week. If the trial balloon floats I see an expansion of games televised. Oh yea and if the NFL exerts any pressure on the networks to not broadcast the XFL, the FCC will be all over their butts.


  11. Castleberry

    Maybe – just maybe – the XFL can get in bed with Amazon or Netflix or YouTube TV – someone who can effectively promote the league. If they start taking kids right out of high school and paying them six figures, they will wreck the lifeblood of big time amateurism.

    How long would this go on before college sports pulled their head out of their ass and started paying the talent??