Andy Staples ponders a world where Mark Walker’s bill becomes a reality.
First, we have to figure out what players would move the meter enough to justify a national advertising campaign. That list is incredibly short. The highest Q score of any college athlete at the moment belongs to Duke basketball player Zion Williamson, and no one else is even in the same zip code. Williamson raised the profile of an entire sport. There hasn’t been a college basketball player like this in decades. (LeBron James would have been like this had he been forced to go to college.) The only football players of recent vintage who compare are Johnny Manziel, Cam Newton and Tim Tebow. They were more phenomena than people as college athletes, and companies would have fallen all over themselves to hire them as pitchmen.
But, as you can see by that short list of names, that’s rare. The only two college football players at the moment who have the name and face recognition to command a national ad campaign are Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Tagovailoa probably would be courted by a variety of companies, and his ideal match would be something like the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, which could use Tagovailoa to promote tourism for his home state. Lawrence, who didn’t become the starter at Clemson until late September, would be the subject of a bidding war between Pert Plus and Pantene.
Locally, you’d see a lot of players getting paid much smaller amounts. Stars on football teams in SEC and Big Ten markets would be signing the aforementioned autographs, and local stores and restaurants might slide players a few bucks to appear in local TV and radio spots. Car dealerships might work trades instead of paying cash. Let’s say this had been within NCAA rules when Tebow was playing. To get an awkward commercial that features him saying “I got my new Ridgeline at Honda of Gainesville,” the dealership might only need to offer a free lease for the remainder of the college career. When the player returns to the car at the end of the lease, the dealership could then sell the vehicle. It would be a very small cash outlay for the dealership that would support the local team and a key player.
The point I think Dan was trying to get me to make with this question is the dollar figures would not be nearly as big as most people think they would. Even very good players would still be in the five-figure range. Only a select few would command big money. In that way, the money would be similar to the amounts of cash that change hands under the table in college football, only the money would go to the player instead of some shady middleman who may or may not pass along the money to the player.
I’m struggling to understand why that would be an apocalyptic outcome for some of you. Enlighten me as to what I’m missing.