Today, we will tackle the topic of paying players in college football. This model could be adapted to other major college sports like basketball and maybe even hockey. But we will start with football because it is the largest and has the most room for improvement. And because we already posted something that we can build off of.
I am posting this, but Chris and I had a text discussion about it earlier today so his thoughts are in here as well - although I can't guarantee that he supports every facet. To the blog!
Personally, I feel like not paying college athletes (in sports that bring in revenue to the schools) is absurd. It's a free farm system for the major leagues that exploits the talents of young men and women and keeps huge amounts of money in the pockets of universities and professional sports executives.
The plan would be to create a new division (above Division 1, so we will refer to it as Division 0) that allows its schools to pay athletes. And it's not just $1000 to cover "living expenses." It's whatever the school determines. If a player can bring value to a program in the form of ticket and merchandise sales, who is to stop the university from paying the player?
Who Qualifies for Division 0 Semi-Professional Football?
For starters, teams from the following conferences are eligible to apply to join D0:
Other conferences' teams will be eligible to join eventually, but for right now let's just keep it in the big six.
There are 36 spots in the semi-pro league. That number is negotiable, but we'll see how 36 works out. Here are the teams that I think would absolutely fit into what D0 is trying to do and which teams could go D0 if it came to that (in order of how they finished in their division last year; last year's overall record in parentheses):
From the ACC - the Definites
Virginia Tech (11-3)
Florida State (9-4)
Georgia Tech (8-5)
From the ACC - the Maybes (in no particular order)
Boston College (4-8)
Duke (3-9) (all I'm saying is that they have the money...)
From the Big 12 - the Definites
Oklahoma State (12-1)
From the Big 12 - the Maybes
Kansas State (10-3)
Texas A&M (7-6)
Texas Tech (5-7)
From the Big East - the Definites
West Virginia (10-3)
From the Big East - the Maybes
From the Big Ten - the Definites
Michigan State (11-3)
Penn State (9-4)
Ohio State (6-7)
From the Big Ten - the Maybes
From the Pac-12 - the Definites
From the Pac-12 - the Maybes
From the SEC - the Definites
South Carolina (11-2)
From the SEC - the Maybes
That gives us 5 "yes" and 8 "maybe" from the ACC, 3-5 from the Big 12, 2-2 from the Big East, 6-9 from the Big Ten, 3-1 from the Pac-12, and 7-6 from the SEC. To add that up, it's 26 yes. The 10 other spots will be divided between the schools that I want them to be. Hey, it's my blog.
We'll divide the teams up into 4 divisions, separated by geography. This will save travel time and expense, and hopefully preserve some regional rivalries. Keep in mind, the divisions could be re-named once the teams in them change (more on that later).
The Regular Season
Each team will play 10 regular season games. They will play every team in its division and two games against teams outside its division. It could be a "rivalry game" that wouldn't happen during the course of the season. It could just be a random game scheduled by the teams or the league or whoever.
After the regular season, the top 4 teams from each division will be placed in a tournament bracket similar to the one in our last post. The teams will be seeded based on overall record. It should thus be arranged so the best team from one division will play the fourth-best team from another division in the first round, and then so on down the line. The teams will play through the bracket until only one team is left. This team is the champion. If you needed me to write that last sentence, please seek help.
There will also be a second bracket, comprised of the bottom team from each division. The teams will be seeded based on final overall record. The team that wins the tournament is free of relegation. The three teams that do not win the relegation tournament will be relegated back to Division 1.
Each offseason, three teams will move from D0 to D1 and three teams from D1 will take their spots in one of the D1 divisions. Which school is placed in which division does not really matter all that much.
Paying the Athletes
And now, for the part that you thought was never coming: the payment. Division 0 teams have full freedom to pay players whatever they want - and keep in mind, it's just an option. They don't have to pay anything. But they can, for guys like Reggie Bush or Andrew Luck that would bring a lot of value to the team and the program.
Chris and I talked a lot about "the contract" during our text conversation today. The contract would look like this:
- 4 years, with an option for a 5th if (and only if) the player redshirts due to injury
- If a player transfers, he must sit out a year. He does not get an extra year of eligibility.
- Contracts would have to be signed between all Division 0 and Division 1 schools and their players, in case said school moves up or down. Provisions must be made for payment when the school is D0 (salary and scholarship) and when the school is D1 (scholarship).
- Teams cannot pay players when they are in Division 1
- There is no salary cap. If a team wants to spend a lot of money to preserve its D0 spot, that's up to them. If a team would rather cut back and offer mostly just scholarships, that's acceptable.
- Salary bonuses (for example, a Heisman win or a National Title) are acceptable.
- Division 2 and 3 schools, because they do not offer athletic scholarships, are not eligible for the relegation switching.
- The Division 1 tournament (from the last post) would still be in effect. The top 3 teams would move up to D0 - the champion, the team that loses the championship game, and the team that wins the third place consolation game (which takes place between the two teams that lose in the semifinals).
- Players aren't required to play college football before getting drafted by the NFL. However, if they opt to play in college for a D0 school, their contract must be 4 years long - no shorter - unless the team is relegated to D1. But for the length of time the team is D0, players cannot opt out of their contracts.
I'm sure I left some things out or didn't explain some points as clearly as I should. That will be corrected as time goes on.