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Michigan will be without Rashan Gary, Devin Bush, and Karan Higdon for the Peach Bowl. What should be done (besides the obvious) and what do you think will be done?
Brian: What's the obvious?
Seth: Pay the players.
Brian: Okay and what else could possibly give the NCAA leverage in these situations?
Seth: Short of voiding their scholarships pretty much nothing.
Brian: I don't think there are even scholarships to void in these situations. Most guys headed for the draft leave school to do full-time prep.
The Mathlete: The leverage here is on the games becoming meaningful, which means the solution to this problem is...expand the playoff.
Brian: One thing that's totally crazy is that two years ago Danny Kanell was coming up with insane conspiracy theories about Jabrill Peppers skipping the bowl game by faking an injury and the next NY6 bowl Michigan plays in is going to be skipped by anyone the NFL might take in the mid-rounds.
And everyone's like "yup!"
Seth: Expanding the playoff changes things for a few teams. They would have to go back to when they do have leverage. Start with the new freshman class and a new rider to their letters-of-intent: If you leave your team early you owe your school the cost of all of your schooling. Schools obviously could forgive that.
To be clear I am not advocating this.
The Mathlete: Would schools ever enforce that?
Brian: There is absolutely no way that would fly in the current environment where trying to restrict a transfer to a team you're going to play causes vast outrage. Public opinion has shifted so hard against the schools that even stuff I'm fine with--restricting transfers from teams you play--is no longer tenable.
The Mathlete: And could you imagine Michigan going to Rashan Gary right now asking for their scholarship money back?
Brian: That would really perk up recruiting.
[After THE JUMP: We don't really have any answers but there are perspectives]
Seth: It would be the NCAA. No one school or conference is going to put themselves out there like that, but I don't think it's a stretch to see the NCAA passing something that screws the players to protect their business partners.
The Mathlete: Is there any evidence that this actually affects the interest of the games?
Brian: It's affecting my interest.
Interest level: somebody else playing NCAA 2014 [Upchurch]
Alex: What can the NCAA actually do though?
Alex: Offer money for bowl game participants? For a guy like Rashan Gary, a $10K check is not worth the risk to his draft stock.
Brian: Hypothetically they could if they wanted to blow up all their amateurism arguments in court.
Alex: And “offering money to players” is pretty antithetical to the NCAA’s entire raison d’être. If they’re dead set against offering carrots, all they have is to threaten with sticks.
Brian: But they don't even have any sticks.
Alex: Exactly. All they can do is tut tut about how this is Bad For The Sport and how the Players Are Being Selfish.
Seth: It is a quite perfect rebuke to amateurism.
Adam: They might want to drop that angle and push these games as a preview of your favorite team’s future. It’s like a spring game but against different jerseys and, in our case, probably not snowing or sleeting.
Brian: It is bad for the sport. The exhibitions aren't even glorified anymore.
BiSB: Is there any change here that wouldn’t create more problems than it would solve?
Brian: Other than paying the players, no.
BiSB: Even then. We’re talking about a very narrow group of players in a very narrow set of good-enough-to-care-but-not-playoff bowls.
Seth: They faced this kind of thing the first time in the 1970s after the NFL got its feet under it and the AFL increased the demand for players. Their answer was to get the pro league to make a three-and-done rule.
BiSB: Adding a “bowl bonus” or something like that would create a huge set of headaches and precedent problems for the NCAA. (FTR: pay the players)
Brian: Those are only problems from the perspective of a class of parasitic managers on top of the sport.
BiSB: But even if you go to a full “pay the players” model, is one extra paycheck worth the potential hit to their draft stock?
Brian: Once you have real contracts you can do things with them to ensure participation, and at that point it's not even gross.
Seth: Yeah. For example if an NFL player about to be a free agent on a team eliminated from the playoffs decides to sit out the last week, he gets fined more than the cost of one game.
BiSB: That’s fair. But then it comes back to the schools to enforce those deals. And then “Michigan made John Doe play when he didn’t want to and cost him 80% of his rookie contract” becomes a thing.
Seth: Again, they'd all agree to do it through the NCAA. And it's a big step for a player to go from "I'm going to sit out the last game of my forced amateurism career" to "I'm going to breach a contract." It's a "what would we do if people ignored stop signs?" problem.
BiSB: Wait, is the NCAA going to be the employer in these pay-the-players plans?
Seth: We're getting into the weeds but the more I've thought about it the answer has to be yes, or at least the NCAA will set the standards.
Brian: Uh, no. Jim Harbaugh isn't an NCAA employee. This is orthogonal to our discussion anyway.
Operative theory: The people who sponsor the games are vastly more important to the NCAA than those who play in them. [Adam Glanzman]
Alex: There’s no chance the schools will blow up their whole business model to get like a total of maybe a few dozen players to play in a meaningless exhibition when they otherwise wouldn’t.
Seth: So...there's shaming. When you ask former players about this, they're livid at guys who abandon their teammates.
Alex: They won’t even let an FBI investigation into obvious malfeasance in college hoops recruiting impact that sport in a meaningful way.
Shaming people for looking out for their best interests is bad, imo.
Brian: Yeah, Alex is right. The NCAA can't do anything about this without blowing it all up and so they won't.
Seth: Team sports shame people out of their best interests all the time.
BiSB: I do think this is somewhat a byproduct of the playoff. The more games that “matter,” the less people are going to care about the RedBox bowl.
Alex: They can get “the media” to do the shaming (or “the media” will do the shaming of their own accord) but there’s nothing else they can do.
BiSB: Expanding the playoff to 8 will ensure that those players play, but further who-cares midmajor bowls
Brian: If I was a 22-year-old black man with no money and a kid and some rich middle aged white dude tried to shame me, as a couple of former players did on Rivals, I'd laugh in their face.
Alex: I think it’s also a byproduct of bowls being a weird anachronism that puts an exhibition at the end of the season instead of the beginning.
Seth: Fwiw the middle aged white dude here is Tom Brady.
BiSB: Yeah, like Tom Brady never does stuff that makes him seem somewhat punchable.
(Love you, Tom)
Seth: I have the takes from guys who played with Tom Brady and directly after. The general sentiment from Lloyd Player X is "You are abandoning your teammates and missing out on the last chance of your lifetime to play for a team you chose to be on."
slackbot: LLOYD TAKE OFF YOUR CLOTHES // LLOYD GET NAKED
BiSB: How do those guys feel about Jake Butt?
Alex: If I’m someone (say, Rashan Gary) who watched his teammate (say, Jake Butt) significantly harm his earning potential by playing in a game that didn’t matter for anything, and somebody (say, former players) wants to criticize me for sitting out the bowl game, I’d probably want to tell them to fuck off.
Brian: It is way different now because it is obvious to anyone that college football is a relentlessly capitalist enterprise that chooses to screw their players.
Seth: Tragic, and when he came back for a game last year I went to the former players tailgate and guys way more famous than Butt were coming up to shake his hand.
It is. And I bet you the guys who played for Lloyd are not representative of the players even of their age.
slackbot: LLOYD TAKE OFF YOUR CLOTHES // LLOYD GET NAKED
Seth: Hi slackbot.
Brian: Back before the revenue explosion it was much easier to argue for The Team The Team The Team without being a big dumb sap who's just funneling more money into Jim Delany's pockets.
Adam: I feel like current players’ sentiment is “secure the bag” based on Instagram comments but I could be wrong
Brian: And in that they are merely following the example of their elders. "Secure the bag" was literally the only thought behind putting Maryland and Rutgers in this league.
slackbot: I think you mean Rutger
Seth: I don't think the sentiment changed overnight and isn't universal. You'll get very different takes from Randy Moss and Charles Woodson.
I forgot that was literally a show.
BiSB: How dare you guys besmirch the sanctity of the Bad Boy Mower Gasparilla Bowl?
Seth: So that's another thing: it's a solid rebuke to the idea of "New Years Six" bowls. If the Peach Bowl was called the Rose Bowl and played in Pasadena, would more guys play?
BiSB: This is Very Important Stuff and in no way one great big racket designed to enrichen the already enrichened.
Alex: It’s almost like the existence of this very profitable system is fundamentally reliant on the exploitation of labor. And it’s almost like whenever labor exercises some semblance agency (sitting out a bowl, transferring, whatever), people get real mad.
Brian: That's the NCAA's theory in court. Literally.
Seth: I'm for paying the players, but I also like college football because I bought into the idea--maybe foolishly--that it's way more fun to watch a student wearing the winged helmet because he wants to than whoever's currently being forced to wear a cartoon lion because that's where his job assigned him. The NCAA started it by taking "The Team, The Team, The Team" to its most cynical extreme, and that has invited the most cynical personal interests to strike at what's best about the sport.
Brian: Yes. The lion's share of my attention goes to college sports because at some level I do buy into all the rah rah rah. But when the thing is run like a company, what do you expect? You don't get to play it both ways.
The Mathlete: And that's the crux of major college sports right. There is a legitimate ideal that on Earth 7 college football never got excessively monetized, the bowls still mattered and there was a realistic claim that forgoing a bowl for an NFL payday was a massive violation of the unwritten contract with team. That is not the reality of this Earth and half-measures to go back don't get you any further back, but typically come at the expense of the players who are making rational decision based on the field before them.
Alex: I have way more of a connection to my alma mater than I could possibly have to any pro sports franchise, but at the same time, I feel like it’s important to be clear-eyed about the industry, how it works, and what it does to people.
They run it like a corporation to squeeze every cent they can out of bodies they see as disposable and then try all that rah rah shit whenever that dynamic is interrogated.
It’s not bad to enjoy watching Michigan play football. It’s bad that Michigan and other schools have colluded to prevent their workers from receiving fair compensation. It’s bad that Dim Jelany makes a bajillion dollars.
Brian: "Those are fleeting, four-year relationships" -Hunter Lochmann
— Yahoo Sports College Football (@YahooSportsCFB) December 18, 2018
- it sucks that it makes sense for players to skip the bowl
- it is bad for my interest in said bowl
- nothing will be done to fix it
- let's go Shawne Alston Lawsuit
Seth: I don't have a list of players skipping. Are there schools getting hit worse than Michigan this year? We seem to be right in the sweet spot of "Had the best possible season with the most NFL picks that got in the biggest bowl that is the least interesting."
BiSB: Also, they're playing Florida. Again.
Brian: TBH I'm envious they get to skip playing Florida
BiSB: We could have had Coach O interviews.