If you clicked the link expecting to see another old man yelling, “GET OFF MY LAWN!” you’ll be sadly mistaken. Unless you actually do step on my lawn, then I am shooting your ass with rock salt.
I like millennials. I think they are wonderful people, and like virtually every generation before them they will be better than their parents. They have many admirable traits. They don’t just accept something because that’s the way it is. They aren’t going to stay at a job that underpays them out of loyalty, and they aren’t going to drop $15.99 at a crap chain restaurant for a reheated meal.
One of my favorite parts of the millennial psyche, however, will be the undoing of college football. The writing is on the wall. The kids today just aren’t going to accept college football making billions and the college athlete not making a dime. In theory, I 100% agree with them. At some point, an entire team of these young people will decide they just aren’t going to play until they get paid. That will certainly force the shortsighted NCAA to react and they will follow “the Olympic model” where they allow the kids to make their own money.
And that will be the death blow. To be sure college football wont die overnight. Plenty of us old codgers will watch because we always have. Ironically enough, it will be the millennials and their kids that end up giving up on college football, because they don’t have that desire to do something just because that’s the way it’s always been.
The reason they wont watch will be because the Olympic model or any solution the NCAA comes up with will not address two key issues.
The first issue is that if you pay players, or they can make money off their likeness, the NCAA becomes the NFL-lite. Remember the last time you dropped 100 bucks to go see an NBA G league game? How about the time you showed up at 6am the day before a double A baseball game just so you could get a prime tailgating spot? Me either.
There is a very simple business principle that is called the “est” principle. People flock to the best or the cheapest. Everything in the middle is generally doomed to failure. NCAA football would just become a cheaper form of pro football, except it isn’t really cheaper. It’s cool you think millennials will still throw their money at college football, and you could be right. Why don’t you ask one sitting next to you the next time you go to Applebee’s.
Since we are talking about food...
Our team is worth 1.5 BILLION dollars but it wouldn't be fair to other students if we get a free hamburger https://t.co/SKHPmhzeRq— Joey Burrow (@Joe_Burrow10) September 22, 2017
Certainly the Buckeyes could afford to buy Joe, and all of Columbus for that matter, a burger. And that brings us to the second problem.
If there were an auction of college football programs that coincided with this paying of the players, OSU would certainly go for 1.5 billion. Texas and Alabama wouldn’t be far behind. The crazy prices would last for a dozen or so teams, and then nothing. No one would buy the Purdues of the world.
Purdue football took in 78 million last season and spent almost exactly that. There really isn’t money to pay the players beyond the top dozen or two schools. And what little money is there would dry up soon enough. The few decent recruits that go to Purdue for a chance to see the field and a scholarship would flock to a place like Ohio State where they could get paid to go to school. The NFL isn’t high on their priority list, nor are they high on the NFL’s, so they would do the smart thing, and take the money that was offered. Did I mention millennials are smart and practical?
Per this article from deadspin, who apparently love counting other people’s money, division one colleges already spend 90k per athlete. In the SEC, it’s already over 160k. If bigger schools can actually give student athletes money, or their boosters can, 90 division one schools would shut down their football programs virtually overnight. They are already struggling to compete. This would be the nail in the coffin.
And this wouldn’t just be a nail in the coffin for lower division one football programs. It would be most athletic programs. OSU football subsidizes many other athletic programs at the university. If there are changes to the current model, then there will certainly be an arms race to get the best players money can buy, and that money has to come from somewhere.
I believe the paying of players in some form is inevitable. Two main problems will arise. One, people will view it as minor league football and just gravitate toward the NFL. Two, most division one colleges will cease to be division one, and thus cut the fan base even more. If those two problems aren’t addressed, then the destruction of college football is also inevitable.