"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
On the heels of WatersDemos's excellent diary and the Bobby Knight Board discussion, I got to thinking that it might be worth while having a collaborative debate about the issue of payment to college football players. I would be especially interested in hearing from some MGoEconomists on this issue, given that there are some particularities of the labor market for football services that invite economic thinking.
The problem (if it is a problem) with the NCAA rule against players' selling their swag is that it seems to violate principles of personal property rights. So, the logical alternative is to allow players to sell their swag to whomever they choose. This creates an incentive structure in which recruits can be told by coaches that University X has a super rich booster who will give them $100,000 for a couple of signed jerseys. Lesser recruits might only be able to command, say, $50,000 over four years at a lesser school. At this point, college football becomes no different than minor league baseball or hockey, with the prearranged "jersey sales" being tantamount to signing bonuses.
But, this is only a problem if it is defined as a problem; that is, if our sepia-toned memories of what college football used to be like make us unwilling to accept that college football could be a farm system. On the other hand, humans use things like nostalgia and emotion to drive decision-making from time to time—it’s called “culture.”
So, one solution would seem to be a flat wage for all football players, outside of tuition, books, and whatever they currently get for pocket money. So, all players would be paid, say, $2,000 per month for 12 months, essentially a fairly lucrative campus job. That wage could even rise as they progress through college, so that by the time the NFL draft rolls around, the vast majority of players who don’t get selected might have a little money in their pockets to go to grad school, start a business, etc.
Two obvious problems with this:
- Other NCAA athletes don’t have access to this. It would only be football players; and
- Although the flat wage would prevent an above-board bidding war for recruits (since there would be no benefit to choosing University X over Y, unlike the return on choosing the Yankees over the Royals), it only creates a new level playing field on which rich boosters would compete under the table. In that sense, it doesn’t really solve any problems. That is, even if (and perhaps because) Terrelle Pryor would earn as much as Drew Dileo, there would still be incentives for back room payments.
Another solution is to create a farm system for the NFL, and force high school players to choose between college and the farm team. It stands to reason that if two of the three other major sports have farm systems, and the NBA has a sort of hybrid (the NBDL would be a true farm system if the players were allowed to sign directly from high school), there would be pressure for the NFL to follow suit.
It seems to me like the crux of the problem is that college football players (like baseball, hockey, and basketball players, and unlike college gymnasts or water polo players) possess a set of skills that, at their highest level, are highly in demand in the professional labor market. This creates all sorts of incentives for players to want to cash in on those skills.
This is what I want some economists’ take on: is it coincidence or causal that the two college sports where recruiting is dirty like dirt in a dirt sandwich are football and basketball, the two major revenue-generating pro sports that don’t have a fully-developed farm system, a la hockey and baseball? My working hypothesis is that having a well-developed farm system—which allows star players to get paid for their services prior to making it to the big show—that reduces the dirt in college baseball or hockey recruiting.
So, if we are truly concerned about such dirt, the solution would be to make the NBDL a true farm system, and to create a NFL farm system. The case of Brandon Jennings is instructive in this respect—recall that because he couldn’t go into either the NBA or NDBL right after high school, he went to Europe to play. I wouldn’t be surprised if this happens more in the future. In this sense, the Euro leagues are like the NBA farm system (see also: Ricky Rubio), but just a really inefficient one as of now.
Anyway, if the NFL did adopt a farm system, it would have to be done like the other farm systems, that is, in conjunction with the NFL. So, no competitive USFL or XFL or even Arena league nonsense. I actually think this could work, by the way. There are plenty of places where (1) football is beloved, (2) there is no local NFL team, and (3) plenty of rooting interest in a nearby NFL team. Or, more nationally, I’m sure the Dallas Cowboys’ farm team—even if it was located in, say, Louisville, KY—would generate plenty of suppport.
So I guess the three questions are:
- Is selling swag under the current system a problem?
- Would paying players more help the problem?
- Would an NFL (and true NBA) farm system be (a) economically viable, and (b) solve the problem of dirty practices in college football and basketball?
I'll hang up and listen.
Ohio DB Jarrod Wilson's name has been popping up lately because of a visit he took last week to Ann Arbor, so I caught up with his coach, former Wolverine, Ricky Powers. Here's what Coach Powers had to say about his star DB and where he's at in the process.
TOM: How did Jarrod's visit to Michigan go last week?
COACH POWERS: It's funny, Jarrod is a lot like myself, he's just a laid back kid and nothing really shakes him. I asked him how the visit was and he said it was good. He went to Penn State this past Friday and he said that was good, too. He doesn't emphasize a lot, but I think both visits went very well.
TOM: Where is he at in the process as far as top schools and timelines.
COACH POWERS: His top three are Notre Dame, Michigan, and Penn State [ED: in no order]. He's going out to Notre Dame on the 10th, and he's already been to Michigan and Penn State like I said. I think those will be his last visits, I'm not positive, but I think so.
TOM: Does that mean he'll be deciding shortly after that?
COACH POWERS: We definitely want to get it done before the season starts. He wants to graduate early, so we want that to be out of the way and taken care of.
TOM: What kind of advice have you given him, or what kind of questions does he ask you throughout this whole process?
COACH POWERS: The only advice I've given him is to look past some of the stuff, all of them are going to have great tradition. He needs to find where he'll be most comfortable as a person. He has a pretty good checklist, I haven't seen it, but he has a good checklist that he asks schools. He'll make a great decision wherever he goes.
TOM: Is he looking at depth charts, or who is committed where at this point?
COACH POWERS: No, nope. He is a very confident kid and he doesn't look at that kind of stuff.
The evaluation period is over, which means no more off campus visits by the coaches. There is a quiet period from now until July 31st. A quiet period allows a coach to write or call a prospect and recruits can visit the school's campus.
So the next big events for Michigan will be unofficial visits and camp (June 19th-23rd). Here's a look at what could be happening in the near future, and where a few other prospects are at in their recruitment. As always you can follow me on Twitter at TomVH, and feel free to email me with tips or questions at TomVH@MGoBlog.com.
6'3", 175 lbs.
St. Louis, Missouri
Chesson received an offer from Michigan this past week, and it was one that he thought would be coming in soon.
They had been looking at me for awhile, and they told me that I'm among eight kids that they were evaluating. Coach Hecklinski visited my school and they didn't offer right away, but he said to hang in there with them. He finally told me that the staff wanted me and they offered.
Jehu is an interesting prospect because he had been recruited by the old Michigan staff, and actually knew them better than the current staff.
We visited campus last summer. I kind of wanted to see it so we sacrificed a little and made the trip. They obviously have a different coaching staff from last year. Right now I just need to build that relationship with them. I know Coach Hecklinski. The number one thing for me is to have a role in the offense. I'm a receiver, I'm a little bias to having the ball in my hands. I can control how good I become, but they're the ones that choose how to use me.
Chesson plans to take his time with his recruitment, and wants to wait to see what schools offer before he makes any decisions.
I'll take all of my official visits. I would definitely consider Michigan for an official visit because it's not a place I can easily get to. Take an official to Michigan would make more sense than a place like Mizzou. I want to narrow my list down at the end of the summer. It should be a pretty long list still but at least I'll be getting it somewhere. After that I'll try to get a top five.
Michigan would obviously like to land a receiver in this class and it looks like this is one position that they'll have to wait to find out who they get. Chesson plans on waiting, Dwayne Stanford wants to announce later in his season, and Aaron Burbridge has some work to do in the classroom.
6'6", 265 lbs.
I mentioned this past week that Olson would be visiting Michigan this Tuesday (the 7th). His Michigan offer came in recently and Michigan will be the last school he sees.
About two months back Coach Mallory said that the offensive line coach had watched my highlights and loved them. We kept in contact and I told him the interest was mutual. Eventually about three weeks ago they pulled the trigger and offered me.
Some prospects only say that academics are a big part of their decision but Olson's final list makes it clear he means it.
I really want a school that combines academics and athletics. It's something that's really important to me and I've told a number of schools not to waste their time recruiting me because of their academic standing. I have a 3.2 GPA, but I'm at a very rigorous private school and I scored a 1930 on the SAT and a 29 on the ACT.
So yeah, he's pretty serious about that. Olson says he's playing everything by ear, but he would like to have a decision made by mid summer. With Michigan being the last visit and a good combination of what he's looking for, they have a good shot.
6'5", 308 lbs.
Rochester, New York
Jones has been committed to Penn State for some time, but has said that he will continue to visit schools. Michigan is one of the programs he and his family would like to see more of. I spoke with his mother about where he's at, and when he should be at Michigan.
If you asked Jarron he would say Penn State was the best place for him, but that was after visiting Rutgers and Pitt. Before talking to me and his dad he told a reporter that he was committed to Penn State. We said he should have talked to us first. He does feel he loves Penn State and Larry Johnson was the first person to critique Jarron. I loved that because I don't want someone to feed my son, he needs reality. Life is reality, and he needs a dose of that. It's not that we don't like Penn State, if that's still the best place for him then Penn State it is. We're going to discuss it as a family.
As far as what schools they're looking into now, his mother outlined some of the programs they like and how they feel about distance from home.
He told the Florida coaches he's not really interested in going that far, and we're not interested in him going to the west coast. I want to be able to get to him if something were to happen. Virginia Tech is a school he's loved since childhood so we'll be going there. We're going to Michigan in June when we visit Notre Dame at the end of June. At the end of July we'll go out to Louisville and maybe Ohio State.
The Jones family doesn't know too much about Michigan yet, but they're eager to learn more.
I called and talked to Coach Montgomery. We had a long talk and he seemed excited to get us up there. Me personally, I have no real knowledge of Michigan. I understand that they're a great institution. Jarron has some knowledge as far as the football side of things. I told Michigan that I would like to see their APR score for the last few years, too. I need to know the coaches are going to do a good job of being a mentor to him. It's very important for us to know what type of coaches they have.
These visits will help their family get to know everyone, and help them figure out where the best place for Jarron is. There obviously won't be a decision until after the visits are done, so they won't know anything at least until after July. [Ed: APR score should come with lots of explaining.]
California OL Erik Magnuson is visiting on the 10th. I outlined this in the last Weekly Update, and he has Michigan as his number one team. This is a very big visit for Michigan, very big.
Massachusetts DB Armani Reeves told me that he has dropped Michigan from his list. He says he is no longer going to camp at Michigan, but will visit Notre Dame instead. His list is Penn State and Notre Dame now.
As you can see New York DB Wayne Morgan decided to hold off on making his announcement. There probably won't be room for him once he's ready to decide, since he wants to take his official visits now.
Ohio S Jarrod Wilson did visit Michigan last week, and now has Michigan in his top three with Penn State and Notre Dame. I should have more from his coach Ricky Powers this week. Wilson could potentially be making his visit in the near future.
I will outline a list of recruits that I think Michigan could get, or is in good shape with sometime this week. There's been a lot of people asking about that, so I'll post that soon. I'm trying to confirm a few visits, so I'll post those when I get them as well.
For everyone asking about DE Chris Wormley, he does have Michigan as number one right now, but still hasn't decided when he wants to make a decision. I'd imagine it won't go too long though.
For the first time in approximately forever, the Wolverines do not have a new commit. Action since last rankings:
5-31-11 Michigan gains commitment from Allen Gant.
6-1-11 Ohio State gains commitment from Tyvis Powell. Michigan gains commitment from Anthony Standifer.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||ESPN Watchlist||24/7 Avg|
24/7 Sports has gone through and ranked another round of 3-stars (and even added some 4-stars), so those numbers are updated. ESPN's initial rankings are expected to come out this Wednesday.
Let me start off by saying, I’m not that old. I’m 24 (it feels really old compared to 2 years ago when I was graduating). Some of you might read the title and think “Get Off My Lawn” but that’s not what I’m going for. The more and more I’ve thought about the Notre Dame game this year, the more upset I get. I’ve got tickets, I’m going, I’ll love it… but it won’t feel like Michigan Football. I don’t care at all if we have a Fullback, or play a 4-3, that’s not what I mean. What I mean is the Game-day Experience. Yes, this will be the first night game, yes everyone else has night games, and yes, Prime Time exposure, etc. etc. this really seems like a net positive. But part of me thinks that with the whole thing we’ve sold out. I’m a 3rd Generation Michigan Grad, and I love that when I went to games from 2005-2009, it started just like when my mom and dad when to games in the late 70s, and when my grandparents went in the late 40s/early 50s. The Marching Band formed their block M,
the Fanfare M, they played the Victors, the team came out the Tunnel, and they looked like this:
- is that Henne? Devin? Leach?
- is that Arthur Walker, Paul Seymour, Jon Jansen, Jake Long, or Lewan?
Their seats looked like this:
Now, I can’t help but feel that we’re all of a sudden every other team in college football. We’ve got skyboxes (granted, the construction ended up looking great, and I’ve taken the tour, and they’re amazing). We’ve got Lights. We’ve got Special K and we’ve got (allegedly) Maize alternate/throwbacky/cash-grab Jerseys.
So, all the things that I (we?) have claimed to hate throughout the past few seasons we now embody.
Michigan will Take the Field and it will be OMG MAIZE JERZEYS! I CAN BUY JERZEYS?
After Michigan takes the field “I Got a Feelin’“ I know what Special K will play (I feel like every time they went to commercial in this game the damn Black Eyed Peas song played, I know that the movie has AC/DC) - Dunno if embedding is working, but Iowa 2009, when Iowa took the field: (link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsHF31w8-sU&feature=related)
The Fatcats in their Skyboxes will see the numbers, the ratings, the jersey sales and think that this was successful. And what’s next? Our old scoreboards looked like this
Will our new ones look like this?
Again, I’m excited for the night game, I’m going, I’ll love it, and I hope Denard gets 503 yards and we beat ND 77-0 (with at least 1 Mike Martin Pick 6). But part of me really likes that we’re (we were?) different. I hope to really enjoy the Night Game, but come November, on a Gray Saturday afternoon I’ll bundle up, trudge through snow and slush to my seat which looks like this
to see Michigan play in The Game, hoping the sun peeks through the clouds, and our team will look like this:
And the band will play the Victors and it’ll just feel… right
The Jim Tressel years at Ohio State, from a Michigan fan's perspective, as told through all Rolling Stones U.S. studio album titles (though the albums are not in chronological order)*:
*-warning: some reaches are shoulder-separating in nature
England's Newest Hitmaker: OK, Ohio's. Only variation here. With the Ohio State football fortunes reeling in January 2001, head coach John Cooper is finally fired after 13 seasons of disappointments, great expectations and ultimately false promise. Enter Jim Tressel.
Beggars Banquet: The night of his hiring, he attends an OSU basketball game and promises the crowd they'll all be proud of their Buckeyes in the classroom, in the tattoo parlors and, most especially, at the auto dealerships. Or something like that.
Between the Buttons: Woody Hayes' trademark game-day fashion statement was short-sleeve shirts — no matter the month, no matter the weather. Tressel decides his will be a sweatervest.
Emotional Rescue: Tressel comes through with a huge upset win in Ann Arbor in his first game against Michigan in 2001. It is Ohio State's first win at Michigan in 14 years, and denies Michigan a Big Ten championship and BCS berth. Buckeye Nation rejoices.
A Bigger Bang: What could Tressel do for an encore? Only go 14-0 and win the national championship.
Out of Our Heads: The 2002 Michigan at Ohio State football game. UM fans escape with their lives, some barely, after the worst treatment ever accorded visiting fans at a Big Ten football game. Before and after, thousands of piss-drunk wrist-draggers unleash waves of vandalism, violence and urine along the Olentangy, as Columbus police pepper-spray the unruly mobs. Oddly, the Columbus Chamber of Commerce does not brag about this day in its brochures.
Bridges to Babylon: Even before the title game against Miami, Tressel's star player — freshman running back Maurice Clarett — starts coming unhinged. Then in the off-season it comes out that Clarett was on the take from boosters, for thousands of dollars, as OSU would later reveal. Tressel pleads ignorance throughout. In retrospect, this is where he began selling his soul, as he'd done at Youngstown State. Clarett gets suspended, then eventually kicked out of school, after which he tries to sell out the school and AD, but Tressel's teflon is brand new and works magnificently. Nothing to see here, move along.
Sticky Fingers: In an October 2003 night game at Wisconsin, after the whistle blows on a non-descript play, OSU linebacker Robert Reynolds just can't seem to pry his Spock death-grip off the throat of Badgers QB Jim Sorgi, injuring his trachea, rendering him unable to speak and struggling to breathe. Sorgi can't play the rest of the way but Wisconsin wins anyway.
Their Satanic Majesties Request: The entire Michigan team and its entourage, without any advance notice, are detained entrance at the gates of Ohio Stadium before the 2004 game. The buses empty, while security personnel and bomb- and drug-sniffing dogs look slowly and intently for Osama Bin Laden, as Michigan's young team is left surrounded by the venomous wrist-draggers.
Undercover: Less than a month after coming out of nowhere on the OSU roster to beat Michigan in that 2004 game, QB Troy Smith is found to have taken money from a booster. He is suspended for the bowl game, and Tressel (who claimed to know nothing about it) doesn't start him early in 2005.
Goat's Head Soup: In the 2006 #1 vs #2 showdown game, Michigan trails only 35-31 when eventual Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith runs out of bounds near midfield, far short of a first down on a 3rd-and-long. But Michigan's Shawn Crable plays the goat, hitting Smith in the head as he goes out of bound — either hard enough to warrant a penalty or not, depending on your maize-and-blue glasses. that puts Michigan in the soup after the 15-yard walkoff. OSU wins 42-39.
Black and Blue: Michigan's senior offensive stars, QB Chad Henne and RB Mike Hart, are black and blue and barely able to play in the 2007 Big Ten title showdown at Ann Arbor. Ohio State cruises to a 14-3 win, Lloyd Carr's final game at the Big House. But for the second straight season, the Buckeyes are beaten black and blue by an SEC team in the BCS title game, last year Florida, this year LSU.
Let it Bleed: Tressel's Buckeyes pulverize Rich Rodriguez's Wolverines in 2008 and 2010, and even though in 2009 the Wolverines play over their heads, they still turn it over five times in a 21-10 loss. After the win in 2010, Tressel's winning streak vs Michigan increases to 7, and his record against the Wolverines improves to 9-1.
December's Children: In the last month of 2010, the FBI tips off Ohio State (conveniently, eight months later and only a couple weeks after the football season) that five Ohio State players have sold trinkets and other items in exchange for tattoos at a notorious Columbus tattoo parlor. With the lobbying help of Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney, the five players are allowed to still play in the Sugar Bowl against Arkansas, and will instead serve five-game suspensions to start 2011.
12x5: Against Arkansas, 12 points total are scored by the Tat Five, and Ohio State wins the Sugar Bowl, 31-26.
Dirty Work: In March 2011, Yahoo.com learns that an internal audit of emails by Ohio State lawyers — as part of their self-examination to satisfy NCAA investigators — has revealed that Jim Tressel knew of the Tat Five incident back in April 2010, yet did not inform anyone at the university, then lied in September and again in December about having been aware the whole time. This deceit thus allows the Tat FIve to play every game in 2010.
Some Girls: Before Yahoo can post its report, Ohio State beats them to the punch by conducting the Worst. Bad Announcement. Press Conference. Ever. Bar. None. In an incomprehensibly incompetent display of contrition, accountability, honesty, intelligence, PR savvy and masculinity — the likes of which might never be seen again — OSU president Gordon Gee, AD Gene Smith and Tressel put on tutus and slippers, assume first position, stare into the mirrors and dance around everything.
It's Only Rock and Roll: The media can't let this go now— they all are salivating at the chance to uncover what these bozos at the press conference were clearly trying to gloss over. Investigations are rockin' and rollin' come April. And we like it. Even the (news desk of the) Columbus Dispatch gets into the FOI game. Tressel is found to have lied at the news conference when it is learned he forwarded the April 2010 tipoff email about the Tat Five to QB Terrelle Pryor's 'handler' back in Pennsylvania.
Tattoo You: And you, and you, and you, and you. In May 2011, Sports Illustrated sends to Columbus a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, an expert in college sports corruption. He discovers, among other things, that many more OSU football players, going back many more years, have been trading trinkets and even loads of their football equipment at two local tattoo parlors, in exchange for tattoos and even pot.
Voodoo Lounge: The current tattoo parlor du jour is described by SI sources to be a favorite hangout of many Ohio State football players, where they go to lounge around, play video games and who knows what-all.
Exile on Main St.: The damning SI article is the tipping point. Ohio State cuts Tressel loose.
Steel Wheels: With a suspended driver's license, Terrelle Pryor drives to the team meeting at which Tressel informs his charges he has resigned. It is the fourth or fifth known loaner car, or bargain car, Pryor has driven while in Columbus, the worst kept secret in town. Many other Ohio State players and their families have been getting ridiculously good deals at a couple of local car dealerships for years, as former OSU WR Ray Small bragged in the days before Tressel's canning. And OSU compliance doesn't know anything about it, only they do because the salesman in question says he has spoken with OSU's head of compliance in great detail about it all on the phone some 50 times.
Aftermath: Tressel's name is mud, permanently. And in something only Dickens could dream up, a Luke Fickell is the new head football coach at Ohio State. Well, interim head coach.
Now: As the NCAA investigators recomb Columbus, sure to find more, the Michigan fanbase can repair its heart of stone. Ten years of pain and 19 nervous breakdowns later, we have got our Satisfaction. He couldn't hear the NCAA knocking, but no sympathy for this devil. Best of all, they'll never make a saint of him.