Can the cream rise any farther than the top?

Andy Staples ($$) has written a massive piece about how the P5 schools (or most of them, anyway) should break off from the NCAA for football and form their own management association.  I’ll skip past the macro concern I have with it (without an antitrust exemption, forming a monolithic group means the schools lose the one competitive argument they’ve had to argue; besides, somebody’s gonna have to convince me the commissioners are ready to surrender their power to a central authority) as well as my questions about some of his individual suggestions, and turn, instead, to focus on his NIL argument.  Excerpts:

The people in charge now want to ensure the new NIL rules keep players from being paid to attend a certain school. This is a foolish thing to worry about. Of course, players will be paid to attend certain schools when the new rules are in effect. Players are paid under the table to attend certain schools now. Recruiting is a competitive endeavor, and opening up more avenues to pay players — because keeping those avenues closed violates their basic rights — will make it even easier to funnel money to players to choose certain schools.

… Could a booster under this system give a five-star high school quarterback a $1 million endorsement deal with the tacit agreement that the QB is getting the money because he signs with Big State? Absolutely. And when that QB gets beat out by the junior three-star (who just happens to be better because quarterback recruiting is a crapshoot), then that booster would be out $1 million and it would serve as a warning to anyone dumb enough to invest that kind of money in a 17-year-old.

… You might be saying, “But then only a few schools would get most of the best football recruits.” Yes. Alabama, Ohio State, Georgia, LSU and Clemson would get most of the best football recruits. Just like they do now.

Of all the arguments against player compensation, the competitive disadvantage one is the particular line I don’t get at all.  Right now, the powerhouse schools successfully use their resources to enhance facilities and infrastructure to attract the top recruits.  All that would change under a new compensation regime is that those resources would be redirected more efficiently to the recruits themselves.  That’s hardly a sea change.  Further, as Staples notes, there’s nothing stopping a school not in that group Staples cites from getting a bunch of boosters to pony up a fund to go out and battle them to attract recruits.

Now, you may not like watching the sausage being made, and I get that.  But I don’t understand the argument that somehow this is going to increase the lack of parity in college football.

24 Comments

Filed under College Football, Recruiting, The NCAA

24 responses to “Can the cream rise any farther than the top?

  1. Bulldawg Bill

    “The Golden Rule-
    He that has the gold makes the rules!”

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  2. The bagmen and the facilities – that’s the economics of today’s college sports. $10,000 lockers, a mini-golf course, multi-million dollar recruiting lounges and weight rooms, and McDonald’s bags of cash.

    I wish the Power 5 would break away and form a better organization with better rules, but your antitrust argument is a good one.

    A self-reformed NCAA would be the next best option, but the smaller schools are never going to go along especially with freer transfer rules.

    I really don’t want the federal government involved in oversight of college sports for many reasons, but that may get close to Playpen territory.

    The competitive balance issue is never going away. The best players still want to play at the best programs. The best programs have the best coaches, the best facilities, and proximity to the best talent. Bama has all 3. Ohio State has all 3. Arguably, Oklahoma has all 3. Clemson has 2 1/2 (Dabo has put together a great staff but he’s not a great coach in the on-field sense of the word). Georgia has 2 (Kirby is growing and the facilities are catching up). On the flip side, Texas has 2 (coaching is the problem). FSU, Miami and USCw have 1 (proximity to talent by itself doesn’t cut it any more). Auburn (talent and facilities) and Florida have 2 (I’ll give Dopey the benefit of the doubt but their facilities arguably are worse than ours).

    For those who want college football and basketball to be played by students first, I have 2 questions for you:
    1) Do you think Frank Sinkwich and Charlie Trippi came from Ohio and Pennsylvania, respectively, to attend classes or play football at UGA?
    2) Would you be willing to sacrifice wins on the field for the players meeting today’s acceptance criteria for admission to UGA?

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    • gastr1

      Your questions are long-standing ones, of course, and raise the also long-standing issue of what in the actual f**k institutions of higher learning are doing in the major sports business. To wit: my football-obsessed grandfather, age 90 or so: “You know the University of Chicago used to be in the Big 10, and then they left…you don’t hear so much from them anymore.” Me, in reply: “Except for all those Nobel Prize winners they seem to have every year, yeah.”

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      • I don’t have a problem with institutions of higher learning being in the big business of sports (I really don’t) just like they are in the big business of obtaining federal research grants. I do think those that do shouldn’t be given a federal tax exemption for their sports organizations. I do think institutions of higher learning should expect more academically from their student-athletes than to be parked in majors designed to keep them eligible to play. I do think the institutions should do more to make sure athletes have long-term health care and access to complete their degrees after their eligibility expires. I do think the student-athlete should be able to earn money from his/her name, likeness and image.

        You can turn out Nobel Prize winners and future Super Bowl winners.

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        • gastr1

          I could tell from your answer that you don’t have that issue. But since you bring it up as some kind of analogy, please consider what federal research grants are used for, and by whom and who it benefits, versus the money made in sports. I think you’ll find that’s not really analogous and that research labs producing new knowledge is much more consistent with a university’s goals than producing entertaining sports.

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          • In theory, I could make the case that pursuing research grants takes away from the mission of education. Once again, a great university can and should do both.

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            • gastr1

              Do you mean in that researchers often don’t teach so many courses because they’re researching? That’s true, if that’s what you mean. But if so, remember that their new knowledge gets passed on to instructors in their own and other universities to create the new standards, so it does correlate to education in a less-direct but still quite relevant way. (Sorry for assuming your thought process on that, perhaps you meant something entirely different.)

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  3. junkyardawg41

    The more interesting second and third order effects will be the number of 501(c)’s that pop up to provide tax havens and funneling opportunities and when schools and Athletic Associations start to compensate athletes for the use of NIL to market the schools.

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  4. classiccitycanine

    My dad is totally freaking out that some booster might pay Joe 5-star a crazy sum to go play for their school. Andy makes the point better than I did. Once people figure out not to put all their dollars in one recruit, the market will balance itself out and the top players will get paid as they always have.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Derek

    I don’t care if a 17 year old picks Georgia because of academics and football or if he picks Georgia because his Georgia-sponsored hostess provided him with the best felatio!

    I mean, its all the same. A market is a market!

    So alabama will be hiring porn stars to up the technique of its student hostesses to keep up, but thats what happens now anyway, or something.

    Cash, blow jobs, cars, a college degree he has an interest in, I mean whats the difference really?

    If my sarcasm isn’t clear the competitive disadvantage angle that comes from direct payment is a distraction. The central question is the basis upon which kids (remember these ARE teenagers) choose a school in the first place. The size of the check shouldn’t be one of them.

    Colleges should be promoting themselves, you know, as a college. Perish the thought.

    Perhaps if we abandoned the idea that amorality is either acceptable, unavoidable or even aspirational it seems at times, we could attack the root problem and get college sports back to their original foundation. Or go check out how the women’s soccer team, and every fucking other non-revenue sport, operates and do likewise.

    Just a thought.

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  6. gastr1

    To address the concern specified in the post–and I’m personally for player compensation– I think the “compensation/parity” issue for the NCAA is a bit like legalizing marijuana for states. It’s one thing to not be able to stop it from happening; it’s another to passively endorse it by making it the law of the land. In the case of marijuana, there’s a shit-ton of tax money to be made, though.

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    • Got Cowdog

      My man…
      I’ll put you on the sampler mailing list, too…

      Liked by 3 people

      • gastr1

        My state is one of those with very sensitive morals when it comes to the very serious morality of pot smoking, lol… i.e., we’ll be the last ones to legalize even when all of the neighboring states have already done it (most have).

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      • RangerRuss

        You’re gonna need real security, Uncle Got. I’m too old for offensive operations. But I’m pure hell in static defense.

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        • Got Cowdog

          My “King of all I survey” stand sits on a hilltop right in the middle of the place. It’d be a great place for a comfy overwatch platform. Bring a spotter, we’ll put Got Sr. and the cowdog on the side by side as a reaction force.

          Liked by 1 person

          • RangerRuss

            You got it, pal. You DO need real security. Won’t find me hanging out with my dick in the breeze where any asshole with a surplus .303 can take pot shots. I’ll be the one you don’t see.
            Need to start breeding Rottweilers with Heelers. Smart, big and loyal. Gonna need the help to wake my old ass up.

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            • Got Cowdog

              That would be one scary fucking dog.
              Ya know, this started out as a joke to fuck with Got Sr. until I found his stash in one of the tool sheds. (I knew he was a reformed old hippie but didn’t realize the old hypocrite had gone back to being an old hippie. 🙂 ) Then one of our dock neighbors brought it up over beers and wanted to lease the place. Had some investors, he said.
              The more I thought about it… Hell, if the opportunity comes along, why not?
              If they legalize it I will grow it and you are correct, it will require real security. This ain’t keeping deer out of a pea patch…

              Liked by 1 person

              • RangerRuss

                Hahaha. Found his stash, eh? I would’ve been forced to believe my old man’s lie if that had been the case. However, about thirty years ago Mom was out of town so I went to visit him on a Sunday. He was showering and there on the end table was an open bag of the funk, a pack of OCB papers and el roacho in the ash tray. He had that BUSTED look on his face when he came out and saw me twining up a number.
                “Uh, Donnie Ray left that here last night,”
                I’ll drop it off to him on the way home.
                “Put that shit down you little asshole.”
                Hehehehe
                Old hypocrite.

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                • Got Cowdog

                  Exactly, it was funny as hell.
                  I was looking for a sawblade, so I grabbed the box with the sawblades off the shelf.
                  “It’s not in there”
                  “Yes it is.”
                  “I’m telling you it’s not in there…” (Grabs at box)
                  “I know good and damn well it is..(Snatches box away) hey, what are you hiding in here? I ain’t interested in your old playboys…well what do we have here…”

                  Shit, I’ve got tears in my eyes laughing now.

                  Liked by 1 person

                • RangerRuss

                  It’s so hilarious when the worm turns especially when we were so scared of him catching us in our transgressions. Dad was never our friend. Always “the gotdam boss”. We fucked with him every opportunity we could get away with it. Flushing the commodes while he was showering and scalding his ass and running back outside was our favorite trick.
                  “We’re out here shooting hoops, Pop. Don’t know what you hollering about.”
                  “Shooting what? You little assholes!”
                  Hehehehe.

                  Liked by 1 person

                • Got Cowdog

                  This was actually not too long ago…3 or 4 years? Still keeps the stash in the same place.

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  7. Ozam

    This entire situation is like putting a square peg in a round hole. The business of Universities should be to educate people. College Football has grown way beyond its intended purpose and the multi-billion dollar economics are pretty much uncontrollable.

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