Thirteen underclassmen from Ohio State have submitted paperwork to the NFL to gauge where they could be drafted in the 2008 NFL Draft. Now, I support the underclassmen. Hell, I support anybody who is of age to enter the NFL. If you are old enough to die for your country, you are old enough to play in the NFL. (That, however, is another story for another day.) But there is a bigger problem here that people are missing.
These Buckeyes should be focused on the 2008 BCS Championship Game against LSU. Instead, their minds are on making money -- and not making plays. That shows me that these young men have financial needs.
That financial need is why there should be a playoff system in NCAA Divsion I football. I know many of you agree, because it gives us a true national champion. Let's go deeper. I want the playoff system because it would create dollars to pay college athletes -- all college athletes.
As a former scholarship collegiate athlete from a lower-middle-class family, it was virtually impossible to enjoy the college experience as a regular student. It was very difficult not having the money to go to McDonalds, let alone have gas money. It took all my parents' disposable income to keep my siblings and I clothed.
Ironically, I was considered rich by some of my teammates who came from much worse situations. I found myself often splitting my pennies to buy McDonalds for teammates -- not to provide them with a meal -- but to keep them from quitting school to return home to find a way to make some money. To be clear, several of them were not going home to work for IBM. They were going home to potentially start selling drugs or pick up a trade.
For me, creating a collegiate playoff system is a quality-of-life issue. It is about creating a vehicle that will generate enough money to pay collegiate athletes. The university presidents claim they don't have the money to pay student-athletes, and I buy that. They also claim the reason for not having a playoff system is because the players will miss too much class.
Do the players participating in March Madness miss too much class? Of course not. Other sports -- and even other levels of college football -- have playoffs, too, and they don't worry about those players missing too much class. The reason we don't have a playoff system and true national champion is because of university presidents who are lazy and satisfied with taking the crumbs from one network.
The BCS was created with good intent but has failed miserably. The university presidents are currently collecting a check from FOX to the tune of $80 million a year. They could be taking in billions of dollars if they were willing to get off their intellectual behinds. That would be more than enough to generate the money necessary to pay not only football players, but all collegiate athletes.
What is The Plan? I'm glad you asked. The NFL already has created the model.
Instead of one network, get all the networks involved. Have multiple networks broadcast all of the games. The NFL playoff format makes each game a "must see" game. But you don't get that in college. As it stands, most people only watch their favorite school in some consolation bowl, and then watch the national championship game. They are missing a major opportunity and there are numerous entities -- such as IMG -- who would jump at the chance to negotiate such a deal on behalf of the NCAA to make this happen.
I would like to say my plan is some stroke of genius. It's not. It is just common sense. The NFL generates in excess of $5 billion per year in revenue related to TV rights. A college playoff would generate ratings that rival American Idol. Ratings translate into dollars, and it would be easy for colleges to generate $1 billion per season collectively from the networks. You do the math.
That would be $1 billion divided among 50,000 student athletes, that would equate to $20,000 per-year, per student. That would buy a lot of McDonalds.
I know you are saying it can't be that easy. But the bottom line: It is.