After seeing a number of lower quality professional football leagues flounder and fail, I've thought of a concept that I think would work. This topic is just for discussion, this hasn't been debated or kicked around in any real sense. It is just an idea that I think would be pretty cool.
Instead of creating a league in the sense of the NFL, a fledgling league would have to think outside the lines. This concept has been tried, as arena football and the XFL have both skewed the general rules to produce slightly different products. My concept wouldn't alter any in-game rules, but would address the management side of the sport. Why not create a 'professional college football league.'
Before you neg bomb me for such a weird idea, here is how it would work. Each professional team would only have access to its corresponding school's former players. One would comprise the league of 10-16 teams. These teams would mirror the colleges with the largest fan bases. EMU would not be offered a team. That would leave professional teams based in or around Austin, Ann Arbor (Detroit), Columbus, Gainesville (Jacksonville), and a handful other cities.
There are some obvious drawbacks to this. It would invariably be challenged by Orrin Hatch for discriminating against his poor former Utah players who would be unfairly denied employment. Even then, if the courts would sign off on it, there would still be the NFL hawking all the good players. However, this would actually level out the playing field. You may not see a pass from Brady to Edwards, but you would still get to see a pass from Henson to Terrell or Navarre to Bellamy. You may even be able to pick off low level NFL guys by offering more money and playing time.
If the top 20 college programs all had corresponding teams, the talent level would be pretty even. The product on the field would be somewhere between great college ball and bad pro ball. Because the talent level would be higher than arena football or the NFL Europe, there would be a real incentive for low level guys to display their wares on this stage.
Another glaring issue would be free agency and contract disputes. Because players couldn't trade teams, ownership would have free reign over chopping salaries. For this reason, some sort of minimum pay scale would need to be initiated on a position by position basis, with standardized performance bonuses for players who produce well.
The upside is there as well. I could name 20 locations where there would be a fanbase that ranged from very strong to ravenous. This would translate to TV viewership and, if ticket prices were moderate, fuller stadiums. There would be no John Doe from East Carolina State College of Agriculture - Greenville. The players would all have name recognition value. Who wouldn't want to see a former Michigan LB destroy Maurice Clarett?
Anyway, this is nothing to take serious, just a cool concept that I think deserves a closer look by people who make way more money than I...
So, this one time in college...
... I was an intern with University of Toledo's sports information department. Sorry, much more boring than that premise could've been, I know. I promise another time I'll tell you about the chick with the fishing line thong and super low-riders that drove with my dorm mates over to Taco Bell.
Anyhow, I graduated from UT with a degree in Communications, specializing in PR, and I absolutely loved my time in the Sports Information office. I was there about 40 hours a week, but it never felt even close to that long. I decided then that I wanted to do Sports Information and PR with my life.
Problem, you can't do Sports Information unless A) You have lots of experience, B) You know someone very high up, or C) You're willing/able to work a couple of years full time + for no pay. A) I don't. B) I don't. C) I can't. House, wife, cars, you know the drill. That said, I still want to do it. The easiest of those problems to rectify is A, and the way I'm doing it should give me access to some B as well.
I got emailing with the office for the Southern Michigan Timberwolves, a Semi-Pro team of the Mid-Continental Football League. Teams are based all over Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana, and Kentucky. It's a pay-to-play league that sees a number of players from different walks of life. Some are Pros temporarily without a home, trying to keep in football shape. Some are undrafted college players who feel that with a little more work and game tape, there may be a place for them in the league, and some are just former HS or College players who love the game.
Anyhow, after emailing with the office there, I'm going to assume Sports Information and PR duties for the team on a volunteer basis. We're just in the earliest stages of talking about it now, but I should have a fairly blank canvas to work with, which I'm excited about.
I encourage you to check out the MCFL's page at http://www.mcfl.org/ and see if there's a team in your area. These are generally good guys with a passion for the game if they're paying to play.
Does anybody else have any experience with local minor league football?