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bered in the teaching protocols today—on all levels, from the youth leagues to the NFL—but football is a risky business. When you see 350-pound linemen who can move with the alacrity of a grizzly bear, there are collisions which are not good for your health. Players obviously have to be concerned about that.
It is unfortunate that along the way, a degree got the back of the hand treatment from players. That is why this business of name, image and likeness is fraught with incantations from prophets of doom. Chaos is forecast in all directions. There are concerns about how unscrupulous operators will fit into the picture.
Put teeth into the rules. The view of one former coach is interesting: “If an assistant coach is caught in a major cheating scandal, take away NCAA coaching employment for five years, suspend the head coach for a year without pay and make the institution pay for the NCAA’s legal costs.” Back to the players. Will the left tackle pout and not do his job blocking for the quarterback who gets more than his fair share of endorsement opportunities while his linemen get little or nothing? Would the Supreme Court be against a simple plan such as the protocol at a bar were all tips are placed in a jug to be distributed evenly among the bartenders at closing? And what about the Scout team members who correspond to bus boys? How could you run a football program without them? All I know is that the coaches who get out front and wrap their arms around the issue are the ones who will get a leg up on the rest. After all, the cynics will say, their multimillion- dollar salaries is part of the problem. If the coaches get paid, why not the players? Who is to blame for that? The presidents would be a reasonable place to start. You could blame John V. Lombardi. Remember him? In 1996, as President of the University of Florida, signed Steve Spurrier to a million-dollar contract. It has escalated from that point beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.
There are more questions than there are answers.
Look who is impacting our games, namely the NBA and NFL? They invest nothing, they assume no risk and they benefit from a minor league format which otherwise would cost them millions. Bill Dwyre, columnist for the Los Angeles Times, says, “The NFL owners are the smartest owners in sports, but also the greediest.”
What bodes for the NCAA? We do need a governing body which can enforce equitably and fairly but with penal powers. We can be assured that there will always be rules breakers.
What is sad about all this is that when we diminished the importance of the degree, we began to lose a grip on our sanity. What is sadder is that the element of this constituency which most needs a degree—the players—are moving more and more away from a diploma. It is akin to the people in the world who are the hungriest are those who perpetuate the highest birth rate.
I have faith that the overriding fact is that while there have been challenges forever in college football, we will find a way to manage the challenge and make Saturday afternoons between the hedges as eventful as they have always been. Thus far we have always been able to do that.