Georgia Sports Blog FanShop

August 9, 2013

Watch ESPN's Tone on Paying Players

I think you're going to continue to see ESPN becoming more and more sympathetic to players receiving some sort of compensation.  But why?  Is it for the love and affection of the players?  I don't think so.
As Blutarsky has been warning for several years, we are on an explosive trajectory towards the end of amatuerism in college football.  He has written more extensively about the Ed O'Bannon case than anyone, and it's for good reason.  It's the single most important legal proceeding of the past 30 years regarding the future of the NCAA.  In my opinion, it's the biggest legal action against the NCAA since UGA and Oklahoma sued the NCAA to take over TV rights for college football away from the NCAA.
Yet, the NCAA has treated the case with such raw arrogance and stupidity.  As someone who has played THOUSANDS of hours of the NCAA Football game series in my life, I could've told them from the jump that the use of those player likenesses was going to kill them in court.  They should have settled years ago, and they could have weathered this storm.
The NCAA is positioning themselves to be Blockbuster Video or Turtle Records in responding to NetFlix, iTunes and RedBox.  One day your business model is great and the next you're obsolete.
But I digress.  You can't be a little pregnant, and you can't be a little bit amateur.  When the NCAA and EA Sports loses their case against O'Bannon, there will be some form of player compensation for the use of likeness allowed on a go forward basis.  That's it.  Game over for amatuerism. 
It won't be guys like Cam Newton getting paid that topple the game.  It's going to be things like O'Bannon and Johnny Football's autograph sessions that topple the game.

Stipends, player sponsorships or compensation from the individual likeness will all lead to a sudden and aburpt end to Div I / FCS as we know it.  We're on borrowed time for the NCAA to fall apart under Emmert's leadership anyway.  They simply need a trigger event to create some sort of elite tier of football powers operating under their own rules separating from the pack.  I believe the O'Bannon case can be that trigger.  The small schools simply can't pay or merchandise their players.  They are already operating in the red. Even if the money comes from endorsements, autographs, video games, etc and not from the schools directly, it doesn't matter.  The small schools can't keep up.
And ESPN will be the winner.  In a redrawn college football world, where the Haves and Have Nots play each other less frequently....who is the winner?  TV. 
TV could still show some hot MWC or MAC action on Tuesday night, but the excitng opportunity for ESPN happens when Bama, Florida and UGA don't play Georiga State, Georgia Southern and Samford...instead lining up against more peer schools in an NFL lite type of environment.
That sounds like fun and great TV, and it will be at first. But there's a cost to making that happen. The cost will be reflected in your cable bill, Hartman Contribution and ticket prices. It'll be reflected with player unionization, holdouts and contract disputes.  That will take time, but once amatuerism falls for good.
Change is coming.  The NCAA isn't prepared for it, and ESPN is.  And it's going to be triggered by a harmless video game.


noladawg said...

I think even more alarming is the likely consequence that boosters and $ control recruiting. As Kirk Herbstreit pointed out in an interview a couple of days ago, once you allow players to be individually compensated, there's no controlling it. The NCAA can barely prevent boosters from paying athletes now. If, for example, athletes are allowed compensation for autographs, what's to stop a booster from telling a 5-star recruit how much he'll pay for autographs? I hope the consequence is merely a separation of divisions with an extra stipend to D1 players, because once you allow individual compensation, you might as well start a for profit junior league or tell the NFL to start drafting out of high school.

TylerDawgden said...

First, the compensation for signing autographs already happens under the table. It is already impossible to keep someone from giving a green handshake for a photo opp and signature to player or prospect.

Second, the bigger issue is how you handle the stipend issue. What is walking around cash? In Starkeville, it is one figure. In Atlanta, another. That discussion is going to be pretty interesting.

Third, the biggest issue is Title IX. While it is a favorite argument of those opposed to stipends to bring it up, Title IX remains the 500 pound gorilla in the room, as it touches on all issues surrounding student benefits.

If there is a fourth division, it'll be over scheduling, bowl/playoff access, and TV dollars. The stipend thing will be along for the ride.

Copyright 2009 Georgia Sports Blog. Powered by Blogger Blogger Templates create by Deluxe Templates. WP by Masterplan