Submitted by Brian on July 30th, 2014 at 1:06 PM

I used to fisk things, back in the long long ago when people referred to the "MSM" seriously and I had a tiny platform compared to the people writing dumb things that annoyed me. These days most of those people are in other jobs and I gradually got over the fact that Someone Is Wrong On The Internet.

If that paragraph sounds like one big run up to me fisking the everloving pants off of something, yuuuuup. It's a teenager rage tactic from the dawn of mom's basement jokes. And it is absolutely required for this.


I got so mad at Matt Hayes writing things on the internet once that I called him "Horseface," which I was not proud of for a long time. I retroactively retract that shame. To the fiskmobile.

They’ve tried it all, and nothing has worked. Conditioning, suspension, rehabilitation. Even outright dismissal.

The prison system of America: overcrowded, broken, scourge of the inner city. This is an unusual topic for Matt Hayes.

Yet here we are, heading into a new era of college football with a brand new postseason, and the same old problems exist: players can’t seem to control themselves behaviorally off the field — no matter the consequences.

Oh goddammit. I have no idea what Matt Hayes's audience is these days since the Sporting News has died so many times cats are impressed but it must consist heavily of people who buy gold from Glenn Beck at 5 AM and think we should deport the Irish.

There is no college football crime spree. When SI did a study a few years ago they came back with the disturbing news that 7% of all college football players had been charged with a crime. That's terrible! Unless you look up the stats that say half of all black males and 40% of white males are arrested by 23. And that's just being charged, not convicted.

It turns out that professional aspirations and the threat of running stadium steps are in fact a great motivator to stay out of trouble.

“Because,” one Power 5 coach told Sporting News, “we can’t reach them where it matters most.”

Their penis.

That place, everyone, is the NFL.

I still think it's… let's come back to this.

If this were a relationship, it would have been dissolved long ago. College football gives everything to the NFL in every way, shape and form. The NFL gives nothing in return.

Now it’s time for the NFL, which for decades has thrived with the backdrop of a free minor league system that recruits, trains, teaches and ministers to young men before they step foot into the multi-billion dollar business, to give back.

Free minor league? What the…? I mean, yeah, the NCAA does act as a talent feeder, but the NFL only came into existence because the NCAA made football so popular that people tried and failed to make it into a nationwide pro sport for decades after Yost built a stadium that seated 100k. The NCAA is absolutely overrun with cash. The NFL doesn't owe it anything because it is impossible to owe a machine that prints money something. College football exists because it is profitable to exist, and not because of the NFL.

That means giving back the only way they can: controlling the flow of future money.

Shit is about to get real. This is the last semi-sane sentence here.

You want college football cleaned up?

No. We are currently making fun of how Mark Richt has lost control of everything because his players continually get in moped incidents.

Your article about the RASH OF ARRESTS SPIRALLING OUT OF CONTROL includes two marijuana possession charges, a DUI, an "obstructing governmental operations" misdemeanor, five guys who were immediately booted from their teams, and then four incidents spread across 120 teams that are serious-ish and still pending resolution. One of those is, yes, a moped joyride. I'm surprised Jameis Winston's crab legs aren't on there.

You want players who get second, third and fourth chances to finally see the game really is about both football and an education and learning about living and surviving and growing on your own?

I would like to see a system in which 75% fewer arrests transpire! But we already have…

You want this seemingly endless string of player arrests and violence against women to end?






Hit the players where it matters most:

Their penis.

future earnings.

That was my second choice.

The NFL can make this very simple and succinct. Any college player interested in employment in the league must pass a background check, and if they have a history of arrests or off-field issues, they immediately are moved into a — here’s the key — significantly lower earning bracket for the first four years of their employment.

How significant? Well below league minimum, or about $50,000-$75,000 a year.

Take a guess what the average league lifespan is for a player: four years.

The NFL can make it very simple if they negotiate an entirely new CBA that strips people with a history of "off-field issues"—like not even arrests—of potentially millions of dollars even if they're the top pick in the draft. Where is the line here? Does a pot arrest trigger it? How about a theft that got diverted into something that doesn't pop up on your criminal record?

And while this isn't relevant to the thrust of the article, let me state that saying "here's the key" when your platform is one plank long makes me want to flush your computer down a toilet, horseface. To have a "key" you have to have things that are more or less important, and it is impossible for a thing to be more or less important than itself. Obviously. Horseface.

“You have to understand, it’s more than just suspending a player and saying you’re going to miss X number of games for what you did,” said Alabama coach Nick Saban. “You have to change the behavior; you have to change the way the player thinks and acts.”

What better way than by taking away his ability to earn?

Yeah man why not just steal millions of dollars away from poor people who screwed up once because the Olds are scared of 'em.

I mean obviously the criminal justice system that looked at whatever these violations are and said "eh, do your time" is completely incapable of preventing this country from descending into a lawless morass. Let's take over from them. That is outside the justice system's core competency and right in ours.

This drastic yet necessary turn takes the onus off schools and the presidents of those schools to police behavior, the same people who have proven over and over that they have too much invested in players to make decisions that could impact those investments.

"Necessary." Because college football players get arrested one fourth as often as the average Joe.

“No one wants to look at this for what it is,” said another Power 5 conference coach. “It’s a vicious cycle.”

A vicious cycle is a feedback loop. The theory here is apparently that football players getting arrested and catching hell or getting booted by their coaches makes other football players more likely to commit crimes. I can only imagine this quote comes from Tim Beckmann, who tells his toaster every morning not to viciously cycle his bread, and then finds out he's talking to the washing machine again.

The first logical hurdle would be the NFL Players Association, which would be against anything that limits earning ability. But in the long run, it benefits both the NFL and the NFLPA to have players who understand right from wrong; who comprehend that every decision has consequences.

I mean Ray Lewis kind of murdered a dude. You know that, right? A guy ended up dead largely because of Ray Lewis, and the NFL fined him a quarter-million dollars and said "don't do it again." Nobody noticed or cared. If you want the NFL to fix college kids it is possible they should start with themselves.

You don’t punch someone in the head, and a year later, get picked in the second round of the draft and make significant money.

You don’t slap a woman, and a year later, get picked in the second round of the draft and make significant money.

It’s not like we’re breaking ground with this idea. Players will find in the real world, where you don’t get paid to play a game, employers don’t look too favorably on those with criminal records. And if they do, it certainly isn’t for much more than an entry-level job with minimum pay — until the employee proves to be worthy of more.

Even aside from guys named Ray who play for Baltimore, have you ever read any of the copious anonymous crap your own damn magazine publishes about players every time the draft rolls around? The NFL's official site said Johnny Manziel had an "outlaw mentality"! The NFL is constantly probing every potential mental gap and making tut-tutting judgments about every player. Those last until the instant that player proves he's pretty good in the NFL, and then you can knock your damn wife unconscious and you get a lesser suspension than Terrelle Pryor got for getting some free tattoos.

This is the way the world works. The sooner players understand and grasp this concept, the better for all involved.

The way the world works: pretend it never happened and refuse to apologize until people forget about it. This is my advice to you about this column.



July 30th, 2014 at 1:16 PM ^

Two things:

1. College is a "free minor league" for EVERY profession, not just professional football. That is kind of the point of college.

2. Don't teams pretty much already do this by not drafting or drafting guys lower who have had off the field issues?

carlos spicywiener

July 30th, 2014 at 1:18 PM ^

I place Matt Hayes in the Rick Reilly school of smarmy, opinionated sports journalists that not-so-subtly use their articles as platfors to spew their morals in all directions. Because if they were out here, In Charge Of Things, the world would be run much more efficiently, you see. 


July 30th, 2014 at 2:05 PM ^

I first heard about Nothing But Nets from an SI columb by Rick Reilly many years ago.  An excellent organization that I've donated to.  So, Reilly has had some positive impact in his life!  (more than most sportswriters can probably say...)

Cranky Dave

July 30th, 2014 at 1:24 PM ^

this thinking to football? the NBA, NHL, MLB, Arena Football and the UFC should follow suit.  Then we should entrust the Federal government to monitor every US citizen who's been charged with a crime and limit their ability to earn money from any endeavour.




July 30th, 2014 at 6:57 PM ^

But I believe Mr. Hayes's suggestion is that we put a private organization run by a small clique of billionaires in charge of enforcing all morals.  So, wouldn't the extension be that we privatize the morals police?

The idea that the NFL needs to police its players in their conduct off the field that doesn't impact the game---as with Ray Rice---then just encourages this type of thinking.  To be sure, reasonable people could say that the NFL should do some of it up to a point, but it's a problem.


July 30th, 2014 at 1:29 PM ^


[Colleges] have proven over and over that they have too much invested in players to make decisions that could impact those investments.

But surely we can expect the NFL, an association of explicitly for-profit businesses, to behave differently.


July 30th, 2014 at 1:30 PM ^

At this point, expecting anything more out of your garden-variety oldish sportswriter is foolish. It's a typical, lazy bit of writing from Hayes, where he had the results and worked backwards, data be damned. College athletes get away with stuff, as do professional athletes. I'd also add, as I look out over Wall Street from my office window, a whole bunch of old (mostly) white dudes also get away with stuff, some truly society-altering stuff, and nothing much happens to them.

These are the types of articles written by writers who don't have anything important to write and are just waiting for sports to start so that they can go back to questioning the "heart" of athletes and writing pedantic odes to a never-existed era before the internet when athletes could do dumb, illegal things and some "basement-dweller who lives with his mom" couldn't post the video online.

Kudos to Brian for spending the time writing this up, but there's a reason why The Sporting News' continued existence surprised you and (I'm guessing) most others on this site.

Benoit Balls

July 30th, 2014 at 1:39 PM ^

Their NHL power rankings in the early 90's were awesome but I havent heard of them since then.  

Am I the only one who thought this article was going to start off with "John Elway walks into a bar...?"

El Jeffe

July 30th, 2014 at 1:55 PM ^

Here's more evidence that college athletics is in crisis.

/ s


According to this article in The Chronicle, the most recent data I could find said that graduation rates of football and men's basketball players were at an all-time high. Per the article:

Seventy-four percent of Division I men's basketball players and 70 percent of football players in the Football Bowl Subdivision who started college in 2005 completed their degrees within six years of enrolling, according to the NCAA's latest data.

And according to this article in the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, the black male graduation rate for the general population was at about 35% for roughly the same period.


  1. Not all football and men's basketball players are black, but a lot of them are;
  2. The much higher graduation rate for men's football and basketball players are included in the overall rate, so the rate for non-athlete black males is probably a lot lower.


  1. It is probably true that #1 and #2 roughly balance each other out, meaning that the college graduation rate for black male athletes is likely about twice that of the general black male population (Maybe 60 to 30 or 50 to 25 or so).
  2. Matt Hayes is a twit.


July 30th, 2014 at 2:02 PM ^

Great article overall, but you're conflating two entirely different things when you point out the 40-50% of men are arrested by 23 but only 7% of athletes are charged.  Many people are arrested and then released without charges being filed.  The two things are not synonyms.


Now, a quick googling was unable to find systematic numbers on the subject, but the following report claims that in Oakland, bout 75% of black youths are arrested and not charged.  If this number is represenative (and I have no idea if it is), then college football players are not being arrested/charged at 1/4 the rate of the general young male population.  Instead, they're being arrested/charged at the same rate!  Still not good evidence that there's a plague of arrests in college football, especially when crime is down overall in the country.  So Miller's still a horseface...

Ivan Karamazov

July 30th, 2014 at 3:01 PM ^

It doesnt make sense for Brian to compare the two unless you have both the arrest rates and the charged rates, or a combined rate like your Oakland example.  Also, I would say that using Oakland as a representative example of the country is not a good idea.  Even if it was a representative example I dont follow your math on how athletes are being arrested/charged at the same rate as the general young male population (comparing percentages when one sample group is a subset of another is tricky).

I guess my overal point is a mistake that both you and Brian made; using someone else's statistics (which are often presented in such a way to help the original author's point) when you dont have the raw data can lead to some not-so-logical conclusions.


July 30th, 2014 at 4:20 PM ^

If 40% of the population is arrested but only one quarter of those arrested are charged, then 10% if the population is charged.  Or, about the same as the percent of football players who are charged.

I have no idea if Oakland is representative (it isn't in any other way, so I doubt it is here, to be honest), which is why I said so in the parenthetical of the original comment.  The only conclusion I drew was that arrested is different from charged and that the difference between the rates at which the general young male population and the football population are being either is proably a lot smaller than Brian is suggesting.  I stand by that conclusion.

Oh, I guess my other conclusion is that none of this means the original author isn't a horseface.  I stand by that conclusion, too.


July 30th, 2014 at 4:55 PM ^

Across the United States in 2012, 88 percent of pot arrests led to charges. I don't know what the number is arrested to charged for all crimes, but 88 percent is a lot different than 25 percent, and so Brian's point might have a bit more merit.

That said, I totally agree with you about the difficulties in using other people's stats.


July 30th, 2014 at 6:01 PM ^

Now, here is a fine example of how to use "statistics" to mislead.  No one here is saying anything about "pot arrests" except you.  While the statement that ""88 percent is a lot different than 25 percent" is true, so is the statement that "your conclusion is utterly unsupported by the facts you cite."


July 30th, 2014 at 2:08 PM ^

Free minor league? What the…? I mean, yeah, the NCAA does act as a talent feeder, but the NFL only came into existence because the NCAA made football so popular that people tried and failed to make it into a nationwide pro sport for decades after Yost built a stadium that seated 100k. The NCAA is absolutely overrun with cash. The NFL doesn't owe it anything because it is impossible to owe a machine that prints money something. College football exists because it is profitable to exist, and not because of the NFL.

I read it as the NFL should be paying homage to college football, that if it weren't for the heritage and history of college football, the NFL would never have come into existence.  And yes, college football is a feeder system for the NFL.  Not only is that self-evident, it is the very point the author is making, the NFL is dependent upon college football and there is some sense that the NFL owes its existence to college football and would like to help college football in some way.

I'm at a loss as to where the inference arose that college football owes its existence to the NFL as I infered quite the opposite from his article.


August 1st, 2014 at 12:23 AM ^

Hell, I am sure I have no idea what Brian meant.  First he says the NFL can't owe anything to college football because college football is a printing press (whatever that means, not part of any economic curriculum I'm familiar with) and then he says that college football doesn't owe its existence to the NFL.  Fine, but nobody said it did.  I'm inclined to believe a strawman was stuffed, but I'm equally open to having it explained.



August 1st, 2014 at 10:35 AM ^

Are you having that difficult a time understanding that neither college nor professional football owe their existence to one another? Both CFB and the NFL make boatloads of money. Both are exceptionally highly-rated television entities. If you get rid of the NFL, another one would show up to take its place. If you got rid of CFB, another minor league would show up to take its place. They are self-sustaining entities which make a lot of money, and they can stand independently of one another.


July 30th, 2014 at 2:14 PM ^

This article sounds like a NFL team owner wrote it. 

"That 6-5 WR who runs a sub 4.4 fourty with hands of glue got caught with a beer when he was 19!  Bwahahahaha, now I can draft him number 1 overall and only pay him 75k!  Excellent..."


July 30th, 2014 at 2:16 PM ^

Yeah, if hayes got his way, what would end up happening is that people with arrest records would get drafted higher in the draft because they would represent good deals for the owners.  Clean players would, subsequently, get drafted lower, on average, and therefore get less money than they otherwise would have.  I don't think Hayes has thought his plan through...


July 30th, 2014 at 2:23 PM ^

Yeah, that was my first thought about this 'plan'.  All it would do is hurt good players who didn't get into trouble or anything, and also crank up profits for NFL teams all at the expense of young kids, who on a whole, aren't really that bad.  It's just all around a stupid, stupid, stupid idea.


July 30th, 2014 at 2:16 PM ^

You can't take on the whole Internet, Brian, but dammit it is satisfying to read the occasional obliteration of dumb shite like that.

But next time I think you should hit him where it counts: the penis.

Monocle Smile

July 30th, 2014 at 3:13 PM ^

It's like Roger Goodell and Mike Florio had a love child who received a grievous head injury.

This is a major reason why I appreciate mgoblog. Sports media has devolved almost entirely into HOT SPORTS TAKES served up as clickbait.