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Say Goodbye to College Football As You Know It

By on March 28th, 2014 in Football 12 Comments »
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This year’s crop of players leaving behind college football’s ever-evolving landscape for the NFL does so under as much or more media scrutiny than is reserved for the regular season. A college football career resembles a calculated business decision more and more with each passing day and a growing number of players are looking for ways to cash in. 

Departing players like Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel sign endorsement contracts and begin to officially start promoting themselves as a brand, and there may be a shorter wait for others to begin reaping the benefits.  A recent decision that will presumably allow Northwestern University football players to unionize has the potential to unlock a plethora of avenues through which college athletes can pursue compensation.

The 2014 season will see in the introduction of the most radical post-season change to college football since the introduction of the BCS bowl system by way of the College Football Playoff. While it will be limited to four teams competing in two semi-final and then an eventual championship game, the very introduction of a playoff conquers a hurdle long thought to be a far-fetched concept.

In addition to dedicated network media coverage, college athletes are exposed more than ever now through social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. This is one element that has served to blur the line between professional and amateur athletes competing in the same sports because they have come to share equal portions of the public spotlight.  As this trend has become more prevalent so has the contrast between which news regarding professional and amateur athletes is reported.

For example – an NFL lineman may get arrested for a DUI and the story receive an initial surge of coverage before it is ‘yesterday’s news so to speak, but an incident of equal or often times lesser severity will garner a whirlwind of media coverage surrounding the event that lasts for several days or even weeks.

The days of only being able to see Notre Dame play on television seem like ancient relics to a sport that has grown to unbelievable heights. There is no reason to hold out hope for a return to anything resembling college football from over two decades ago, and for some that may be disappointing news. Just make sure you don’t pause too long to reminisce or you may get left behind.


  1. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..I don’t see the union thing as particularly significant, yet. It’s tough to unionize in this day and age. Membership in unions has been declining for decades. And a lot of big sport schools are state-run, and are considered part of the government, legally. And a certain amount of “divine immunity” goes with that. Colleges could do things to discourage unionization that would be illegal if a business did the same thing.

    …..The whole social media thing is a phenomenon that’s still evolving, and it’s really incredible what things go viral. Big-time college football players are going to have a big following if they get into that sort of thing.

    …..One thing that struck me this week was a post over at the War Eagle Reader, about an Auburn student who picked up over a million followers on Vine in the past six months. Why? because she has a unique, high-pitched voice and is really talented at putting together the little six-second videos over on that site. However, the comments on her stuff read like the worst of and youtube, amplified. Folks, this is a college student, and I was floored all over again, at how mean people can be on the internet! Amazingly, she seems to mostly take it in stride. Some of those comments would have made me want to slit my wrists at that age…

  2. Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

    Sometimes it’s a good thing to be left behind. For example, I stopped watching ESPN in January of 2005. My IQ and personal integrity immediately rose to pre-ESPN levels.

  3. audude audude says:

    “Say Goodbye to College Football As You Know It” well put sir.

    If unions are formed and/or players are paid then take the education away as they are no longer student athletes but employees like NW players are claiming.

    Maybe E. Gordon Gee, when President of Vanderbilt, had the right idea: Make ALL sports club level sports. I don’t think that is the correct direction however it would be better than employees.

    Media likes to follow whatever is hot, not go after what is newsworthy. Social media seems to be starting to drive traditional media instead of the other way around. And as we all know if you read it on the internet/phone/tablet it has to be true!

  4. WoodrowAU95 says:

    I agree. College football as we knew is gone (or at least going done that path rapidly). Some changes, like the playoff system, might be a good thing. The other changes, I’m unsure about them.

    Some questions I have that hopefully some of you folks can help me understand:

    1) Could a player be fired at any time if performance lacked or grades declined? Seems this would be hard to do if they unionized.

    2) What about strikes? Free agency? What a mess!

    3) How high would the salaries be for the players? I know the Updykes have a payroll, but is it (or would it be) capped?

    4) If salaried, would the university just do away with free meals, books, tuition, tutors, living arrangements, and any former stuff covered by the old scholarship format? After all, they will have money to get their own stuff. Seems like the unions would not allow this.

    Seems like Pandora’s box has busted open and it reeks!!!

  5. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..The answer to 1 thru 4 is a great big “depends.” There would be a big collective bargaining agreement, and terms would be whatever is agreed upon by the union and the school.

  6. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..Here’s how I see the Northwestern thing playing out. We have the court ruling. So, someone tries to organize the players. There would be a vote. Might pass, might not. Let’s say the Wildcat players vote to unionize. Then, the union takes a list of demands to the athletic director and/or university president/board of trustees. Powers that be reply, “we can’t do X, Y, Z and II-a, because those are against NCAA rules.” Does the union vote to strike? What does the Northwestern brass do if there is a strike? I’d imagine they could put an intramural all-star team out there, go 0-12, and still collect their B1G TV money. And could sanction the crap out of the strikers, who’d have no recourse under Illinois law. I’m not seeing how this is any sort of advantage for the players.

    • WoodrowAU95 says:

      Thanks Acid, This makes sense and could be the “Check-mate” to a strike. Which we all know will come–it’s a given when unions get involved.

  7. mvhcpa says:

    If college sports becomes nothing more than a professional league, it will lose what makes people love it–that sense of being represented. College sports works because we alumni (and others with a heartfelt connection) feel like a part of that team in a way that pro sports can’t deliver.

    Michael Val
    (who may have seen the death of another cultural institution in his own lifetime)

  8. DBAU81 says:

    This unionization issue is a long way from being settled. The Northwestern decision represents the ruling of just one NLRB official. The courts (up to and possibly including the U.S. Supreme Court) still have a say. That process will take years and could potentially cost millions of dollars in legal fees. Who do you think is better financed to fight that battle – the schools, or the players? And Congress could get involved and adopt legislation that would override the impact of any court ruling going forward. The real issue is not unionization of the players per se, but finding a more equitable way of allowing the players to share in the benefits of the revenue they generate for the schools. Reasonable people can have widely divergent views on that topic, and it’s not going away anytime soon. I don’t think we’ll see any dramatic changes in the near future.

    • BigDaddyAU says:

      Last time I checked the players did receive benefits of the revenue they help generate…it’s called Scholarships for a college degree….Yeah I know they aren’t allowed to have jobs but come on..have you seen the residence halls they live’s not like they have to buy TV’s or Washers and dryers or microwaves and such. It is all included in the scholarship… When I went to Auburn I lived in a run down trailer with no central air..had to furnish my entire place AND I had to pay for classes minus a $150 band stipend towards tuition…oh yeah and I had to hold down a job to be able to eat and do any sort of fun stuff when I had time…

  9. restless6 says:

    Not to mention the launch of the Finebaum-Updyke-Hate Auburn Network.

  10. […]  As Derrick Roberts pointed out in his great article here Friday, the decision by the NLRB  on Northwestern football players unionization may end college […]