NFL would pay for college football changes
Posted September 29, 2013
When Big 10 Conference Commissioner Jim Delany this week said he favors allowing athletes in all sports to go directly from high school to the pros, you could all but hear NFL owners groan.
Of all involved parties – including college players, fans, coaches and administrators – the NFL stands to lose money biggest and quickest should the current college football model undergo drastic changes.
Players skipping the college level would be a drastic change to end all drastic changes for the NFL.
Under the NFL’s current collective bargaining agreement with the players association, high school seniors have to wait for three years before being eligible for the draft. Whether that practice could withstand serious legal challenges is somewhat debatable, but it is the process that has worked for years because colleges have served as an ideal transitional vehicle.
But it’s a fragile balance that exists primarily because 100 or so colleges have made it possible for the most talented high school players to keep playing regardless of their academic standing.
That’s why NFL owners always have cringed at the various academic reform movements, especially those targeted at entrance requirements. If colleges ever reverted to admissions policies that required athletes to meet the same entrance requirements as rank-and-file freshman, the NFL would be forced to immediately launch the most elaborate and expensive scouting system in athletic history.
You don’t read or hear much about it, but almost all of the NFL’s surreal popularity has been achieved by freeloading on college scouting, recruiting, player development, health/insurance support system and the exposure top players gain at the college level.
To some extent, the NBA follows the same process. But all it really takes to win an NBA championship is a core of five or six stars, many of whom perform at a high level for more than 10 pro seasons.
It’s an apple/apple tree comparison.
If the NFL (where most careers last less than four seasons) had go out and find the best high school players on its own, the cost to each of the 32 franchises would soar into the millions just in scouting staff salaries alone.
It then would cost those franchises even more money – three or four times as much – to install a minor league operation. Dozens of stadiums would have to be built or at least rented.
Practice facilities would be needed, coaching staffs, administrative offices. It would be a windfall for the general economy but a financial nightmare for the billionaire owners.