Whither #WeAreUnited?

Andy Staples ($$) makes a good point that the Pac-12 players threatening a strike have done a poor job timing it.

What’s interesting is that now isn’t the ideal time to make these demands. This time last year was. College administrators understand there may be no way to safely play a season this year — even if the players completely agreed on everything — so they’re already making contingency plans for the possibility of a year without football. Those plans are unpleasant and involve a lot of furloughs and layoffs, so the administrators are still motivated to play this season. So they should be willing to listen to the players. But they probably aren’t as willing as they would be if this came out of the blue during a year when the money train was otherwise rolling merrily along.

I would say in response, though, some of that depends on which of their demands they’re willing to go to the wall for in the short run.  Their NIL stance aside, asking for coaches and administrators to take steep pay cuts and for the conference to share half its revenues with players are both non-starters and I have to believe the players know that.

Some of the other stuff, though, resonates.  Here’s what one of the instigators said about what motivated him ($$):

Cal offensive lineman Jake Curhan already had concerns about playing college football during the COVID-19 pandemic. Then he read a June 30 CBS Sports article in which a University of Illinois computer science professor predicted that 30-50 percent of the nation’s FBS players would get infected with COVID-19 this season — and that three to seven players would die.

“That’s not something that made me concerned for myself,” Curhan told The Athletic on Sunday. “I just know how frustrated I would have been had I seen any conference or team statement about it offering condolences, where they may very well have had access to these same studies and more. That was the moment when I said, OK, I needed to talk to some of my teammates.”

COVID is college football’s fault line, as Staples says here:

… Power 5 college football is the only major American sport trying to get back to playing that has no real mechanism for negotiating with players. Major League Baseball, the NBA and the NFL couldn’t create plans to restart during the pandemic without each respective players union’s approval. The college players understandably would like a say in how their sport comes back. Second, the pandemic has laid bare exactly how much money rides on a football season in the Power 5 conferences. The players aren’t stupid. They know their schools need them more than they need their schools at the moment.

How this plays out is anybody’s guess.  The players may have leverage, but they have no experience using it.  They may push for the wrong things.  Many of their peers are going to have a difference of opinion about the goals and methods to achieve them.

The players aren’t paid, most players aren’t pro prospects, and the top ones will get drafted anyway. The only people with a long-term financial stake in the season being played by are marginal pro prospects, and even they have to trade off the extra year of scouting/development with the risk of injury compounded by exposure to a deadly virus.

As Curhan put it,

“Personally, to me, (sitting out) is a no-brainer,” said Curhan. “This is a lot bigger than me. I’m lucky to be where I’m from. If football got taken away from me, I’d be able to land on my feet. The reason I feel it’s necessary is for my teammates and future generations that might not be OK if they had scholarships taken away, or their hopes of playing professionally got taken away.”

And so, for every Trevor Lawrence, there’s a Lamonte McDougle.  For every Jake Curhan, there’s a Jake Bentley.

Where does it go from here?  Hard to say.  Do they overplay their hand or take their winnings off the table when they have the chance?  They’ve clearly started a national conversation, and as Staples notes, there’s plenty they’re asking for that doesn’t amount to a big reach.

If they’re sensible and in sufficient numbers, college athletic administrators are going to be forced to deal with them.  Some of you would no doubt find it emotionally satisfying to let them walk, but there’s no way the schools can get a season underway in a matter of a few weeks with a wide scale infusion of walk on players.

Overreach — which some would also find emotionally satisfying — and it’s likely the whole thing fizzles before it ever gets started.  Is #WeAreUnited savvy enough to pick the fights it can win?  We’ll soon see.



Filed under Look For The Union Label, Pac-12 Football

48 responses to “Whither #WeAreUnited?

  1. Granthams replacement

    “a University of Illinois computer science professor predicted that 30-50 percent of the nation’s FBS players would get infected with COVID-19 this season — and that three to seven players would die.“

    For perspective since 2000 an average of 2 NCAA football players have died from football activities.


    • Granthams replacement

      2 per year


      • DawgPhan

        So playing college football got 350% more deadly in the last couple of months.

        If your job suddenly got 3.5 times more deadly would you just shrug it off?


        • 123fakest

          Divide 7/11,356 and let me know what percentage you get.


          • DawgPhan

            But the thing we are talking about is rate and the growth of that rate.

            So your job gets 3.5 times more deadly than it was 6 months ago.

            Think of a scenario where your boss comes to you and says

            “Hey Bob, we need you to run the stabbing machine while the other guy is out. He got stabbed. It’s only about 3.5 time more likely to kill you than your current job so we wont be paying you any more. Anyway, good talking to you. How’s the family, gotta run to another meeting.”


            • Granthams replacement

              The correct number of ncaa football players from their website is 73712. So the risk of a COVID death went from .002% to .004-.009%. As a comparison the risk of getting hit by lightning is .0001%, dying in a car wreck is .011%. So by not playing football, staying at home and making sure the lighting ground is correct in that home the zap layer will decrease the risk of death by .0171-.0221%.

              Liked by 1 person

              • 123fakest

                I used 85 scholarship players on 136 NCAA teams. I was extremely conservative to show how ridiculous DawgPhan’s premise is. This is the same scare tactics the media uses nowadays.

                “Deaths have increased 350%!!!!!!!!!! Run for the Hills!!!!!! ARRRRRGGGHHH!!!!!”

                buried on page 6C:
                In other news, the funerals for those 3.5 people will take place on Saturday


  2. Mick Jagger

    Maybe the Ivy League has had it right all along.


  3. practicaldawg

    Bigger picture: we are witnessing the collapse of the PAC 12 in real time. It was not a healthy conference coming into 2020, and the events of this year have done it no favors.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. 81Dog

    Anyone who is worried about his health should be able to sit out. But I bet all of those people climb into cars every day without a second thought. And I bet a lot of them drive after drinking. College kids engage in lots riskier behaviors than this projected risk on a daily basis. Don’t take any risks that make you uncomfortable, but realize there’s a certain amount of risk involved in everything you do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Boy you’re gonna get hammered…..you are correct….but you’re gonna get hammered anyway. You want grandma to die, you’re selfish, you don’t care about other people, blah,blah,blah,blah….ad hominem attack followed by accusations of improper comparisons when actually its only perspective but you must be a BAD person….which you are but that’s irrelevant.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Derek

      You should have a face to face conversation with each one of these guys:


      I think they’d be interested in your perspective.


    • dawgtired

      Funny you mention that. One of my employees is the most diligent at wearing her mask. She is also the one that takes the most smoke breaks. She is at least a pack a day smoker. She is also a biker-babe and rides many miles on the back of her husband’s Harley. I guess it comes down to the risks each individual is willing to take.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That reminds me of the guy I saw when this first broke out. I went into a store and noticed the person had on a mask inside his car alone. 5 minutes later, I came back out, and the same guy was leaning on his car with his mask off and a cigarette in his mouth. I had to stifle laughing out loud.

        Yes, I understand there are risks of complications including death from COVID-19. Any medical professional will tell you a surefire way of shortening your life or having long-term health complications that affect your enjoyment of life is to put some form of tobacco into your body.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Doug

      And why don’t we let people drink and drive? If someone wants to do a bunch of shots or kill a six-pack before he gets on the road, he should be able to assume that risk if he wants.


      • Because their actions put others on the road at higher risk of severe injury or death … I’m sorry but comparing wearing a mask (I wear one to go in a store) to drunk driving is a stretch at best and cheapens the contributions of those who have reduced the occurrence of drunk driving.

        Taking your logic to its end state, you would require every person to wear a mask if they step off their private property from now until the end of time under the penalty of law.


      • Napoleon BonerFart

        Why is the legal limit 0.08 BAC? Why not 0.00? Why allow the 0.04 BAC drivers to murder indiscriminately?


  5. BuffaloSpringfield

    For What it’s Worth:
    Outlaws of the ole’ West were notorious for riding their horses into the ground. Often killing them in the heat and humidity of the day. Seems like jackasses have now replaced the outlaws but their still riding their mounts into the ground.


  6. FlyingPeakDawg

    Twittering a hashtag is not a movement. There is no organization for the players, no representation, no clear leadership. It’s a PR problem the powers of CFB should be able to manage, but you can’t underestimate their ability to foul this up as well. My guess is platitudes will be spoken, committees formed, but no true reform will take place in this calendar year.

    I would also guess there will be some last minute “we’re not playing” team protests especially if the testing is a mess and Covid breakouts occur like in MLB. Games cancelled, but still no reforms.

    Liked by 1 person

    • DawgPhan

      Many of your concerns are because it is illegal for them to have those things.

      The NCAA has fought hard and spent millions to stop college players from organizing and acquiring representation. I dont think that you can honestly make an argument that college football players lack leadership abilities.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. W Cobb Dawg

    Players already receive schollies, stipends, and a variety of other benefits. Everybody, except the ncaa perhaps, accepts the coming NILs as a foregone conclusion. These “demands” are the logical next steps in negotiations.

    I can’t help but believe the people railing against the kids know nothing about employer-employee dynamics. Why would you (you, in the indiomatic meaning) expect those kids to roll over? Because you did, and that’s the way its done?


  8. 123fakest


    Liked by 1 person

  9. ugafidelis

    Did McDougle just expose the bagmen networks?


  10. 69Dawg

    On a medical note, all the African-American players should be doubled check for Sickle Cell Trait. My wife the retired RN, trained at Grady and has a real problem with guys that have it getting Covid-19. It could be worst than the general population.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Now let me get this straight: you don’t want to play, but you also don’t want to lose your roster spot?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. ASEF

    A parent who listens to their kids and respects their opinions by and large gets constructive feedback from their kids, although you have to sometimes “listen between the lines.”

    A parent who uses their control to assert and satisfy their own needs at every turn gets drama and acting out.

    The P12 could not more clearly be an enterprise serving the needs of Scott and his presidents. That’s back-stopped by the NCAA. The players are threatening for a simple reason – they don’t trust Scott or Emmert or their coaches as far as they could throw them.

    You could throw the same accusation at all the other conferences, but there’s an irony here:

    The SEC, which spends the most time building an infrastructure geared towards NFL paydays and recruiting into that, also spends the most time in conversations with players and parents about Plan A (NFL) and Plan B (what do you want to do if the NFL doesn’t work out)?

    Want 4 and 5 star players? Better provide a superior, player-centered experience.

    The irony? The conference which puts player interests first isn’t really dealing with all of the nonsense that’s roiled programs in the B12, B1G, and now P12. Funny – football players seem to like environments where football is treated as a priority for reasons other than the purely financial.

    There was actually an opportunity for the P12 here, but as usual, Scott went the opposite direction, and now he’s got another mess on his hands

    Liked by 1 person

  13. CB

    The amount of Marxists who are fine with the socialism of college football’s pay ceiling never ceases to amaze me. Especially since most of them claim to be republicans.


    • I’m not a pay for play guy but understand the perspective of those who are. I am a rabid supporter of NIL reform because many of the players will never have a better opportunity for their NIL to have greater marketability than it does during the 3-5 years they are on a college campus.

      I personally don’t have a problem with people using NIL as a way to convince a player to attend a particular school. As long as everyone understands any payment received for NIL is taxable to the recipient, who cares?


      • CB

        Vote Jorgenson. Abolish the IRS. Players getting paid doesn’t effect my life one way or another. I know this because many already are paid, and it makes no difference to me.


      • Not saying this is the tone you were necessarily taking, but I don’t get the “wait til they have to pay taxes!” argument some folks like to throw out as a reason not to pay players. I’m pretty sure taxed income is better than no income to these guys.


        • Audit, my only point is that as soon as they cross the pay-for-play threshold, it’s going to be pretty damn hard to say the student-athlete isn’t an employee based on the IRS rules whether their compensation package is negotiated as scholarship only or scholarship plus $100,000 stipend.

          At a minimum, they will be independent contractors that will then become responsible for quarterly tax filings, self-employment tax, etc. (even in an NIL world) they will have to deal with this if the income exceeds the standard deduction and personal exemption.

          You’ll know what I’m talking about with this … each state they play in is going to want a piece of the pie as well. You play at Clemson and at South Carolina one year and now the South Carolina Department of Revenue then says you earned 1/6 of your income here … you owe $X in state income tax.