College football has seen massive overhauls in recent seasons, and the vast majority are absolutely killing a game that millions love and cherish. I’m not at all trying to be hyperbolic. If there isn’t a change of direction, and quickly, the game we love is going to be destroyed.
The issue is an absolute lack of leadership and integrity within the game. Dare I say, a lack of courage and character.
From the NCAA, to school presidents, to athletic directors, to head coaches to the national media, the stewards of this wonderful game have completely lost their way. With few exceptions, the lack of courage, leadership and integrity has been staggering.
This isn’t about name, image and likeness, something I support in theory.
This isn’t about “player freedom” from a transfer standpoint.
This is about the current stewards of this great game failing to live up to the standards that we should all require of leaders, and it has been going on for a very long time. In recent years, however, a flurry of issues – and the despicable response to them from the NCAA, school presidents, athletic directors and to a degree coaches – have laid the foundation for the game’s demise.
I cannot begin to tell you how many emails, texts, direct messages or posts on the Irish Breakdown premium board I’ve received from fans who express such displeasure that they are beginning to lose the love for the game.
I know I’m not alone, and it’s only going to get worse unless something is done about it.
The NCAA and the schools fought for decades to maintain this strange, twisted view of amateurism that was about ensuring that players could not benefit on the growth of the sport in the manner in which they should.
I say this as someone who is vehemently opposed to “paying players” in the traditional sense.
As the NCAA and its presidents held firm to this absurd view of amateurism and pushed the “student-athlete” angle, for decades they turned a blind eye to school after school simply using players talents without giving back the promise of an education that is supposed to be their end of the deal.
The horror stories I’ve heard over the years about how schools demanded so little of their student-athletes, and in many, many cases discouraged players from taking steps to further their education, is appalling.
It was never about the players.
The players couldn’t make money off their talents, and the response was “but they get a free education.” That’s true, but when so many players aren’t actually getting an education, or one they should be getting, the NCAA and the schools aren’t living up to their end of the deal.
The NCAA failed to govern itself in a manner that forced schools to hold up to their end of the bargain from an academic/education standpoint.
Rules were always set up to benefit the schools at the expense of the athletes.
In recent years the NCAA, the schools, ESPN and other power brokers of the sport have attempted to spin the changes into a “player freedom” movement that once again is geared towards benefitting them and not the players. It’s not about looking out for the players, it’s about choosing to do nothing about a real problem, and then creating an even bigger problem than what previously existed.
We are supposed to believe that organizations who for decades were totally fine with players not benefitting financially and in many instances not getting the promised education that was supposed to replace the financial gain, all of a sudden had a change of heart?
The “leaders” of the sport decided to shirk their duties and instead just opened the flood gates.
The transfer portal in its current form was and is a ridiculous idea, and the lack of oversight, education and guidelines for this process is staggeringly stupid. Instead of providing freedom for players, the NCAA and the schools have created a system that is clearly doing far more harm than good.
It certainly helps coaches though, especially those at the biggest program, who have been able to turn Group of 5 schools, and less successful Power 5 schools into their own minor league system. Of course, no one is talking about the unintended consequences of this system.
They had a chance to take a broken transfer system and make it better, but instead they made it worse.
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Then there is name, image and likeness. oh my.
Once again, the NCAA and the schools have taken something that in theory is a tremendous idea, one that should have existed for decades, and turned it into a joke.
Instead of stepping up and showing leadership, the NCAA has basically washed its hands of the NIL issue. Its “leadership” has cowardly stepped aside in hopes of Congress stepping in and doing something about it.
Yes, the NCAA and the school presidents are the only group of people in the country who actually think Congress is going to step up and do something competent, and do something good. The “leadership” of the NCAA is hoping that a group of people that currently have a 21% approval rate and a 76% disapproval rate will step in and save the day.
It’s shameful, it’s stupid, it’s pure cowardice, and it’s killing the game.
Anyone with a brain saw this coming, and anyone who cared about the sport and had the power to do something about it should have done so, but they failed. Worse yet, as far as I can tell no one is being held accountable because the fact is as long as the sport is making money no one in position of power cares.
ESPN and Fox Sports and CBS Sports don’t care to report on the dark secrets that exist now and have existed for years because they are no longer journalistic entities, they are now just entertainment and making money. They know what goes on, but they choose to ignore it and simply think putting money in the pockets of young people will make it all better.
You have head coaches like Nick Saban of Alabama throwing warnings and railing against these changes, all the while taking full advantage of them in order to benefit his own program. A true leader that cares about the game as much as Saban says he does would have said, no, I’m not doing this.
At what point are you willing to sacrifice winning for doing what’s right? Is that not a thing anymore in our country?
Perhaps the latest situation with wide receiver Jordan Addison and Pitt, and USC, will be the thing that finally shames the NCAA to the point where it has no choice but to act. Perhaps Lincoln Riley’s utter lack of moral fiber, and the fact he isn’t afraid to flaunt it, will be such that he forces the NCAA’s hand …. who am I kidding, they won’t do anything about it.
The “grownups” in the room have largely shown themselves to be greedy cowards. They hide behind “player freedom” while allowing a system to be created that does far more harm than good to these young men. Instead of putting in the work and making the tough decisions that would provide student-athletes with protection and opportunity, the NCAA has once again shown that its usefulness has expired.
I’m not one to offer criticism without also offering solutions, even though I know they will be ignored. Over the next few days I’ll be addressing topics like the transfer portal, NIL, the playoff system, academics/education and other topics from the standpoint of what can be done to save the game and make it better than ever.
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