College Sports WILL Be Changing.

April07/ 2014

This Northwestern Union thingy might not be “the straw”….. even The Dreaded O’Bannon Case may not “do it” BUT the camel’s back of Big Time College Sports is hanging by the slimmest of threads.  It IS going to break and soon. “Soon” being within three years….. or sooner.

A victim of its own gluttony?  A Tower of Babel built by decades of unresponsive ostrich management?  ESPN?  The Internet?  A bread & circus constituency?  The natural evolution of all cultural mores?

I vote for all of the above.  BUT, not to worry Bunky.

When the dust and smoke clears from whatever Tsunamic changes are implemented YOU WILL still have what matters most to you:

Very entertaining Football and Basketball games with all the color & pageantry you are willing to expend your time and $$$ to enjoy.

YOU know exactly What’s Wrong with college sports!……  It’s Coach K teaching “flopping”.   It’s John Calipari’s One&Dones.   It’s Uncle Julius and Dickie and all the bungling clowns pouring out of the little UNC car.  It’s Mark Whozit the NCAA Czar.  It’s Dickie V.   It’s crooked refs.  It’s Nick Saban, Jimbo, Lane Kiffin, & Bzzzz.   (Lets not include Bzzzz in this.)  And, of course, it’s John Swofford because it’s ALWAYS John Swofford.

It’s Mike&Mike and Colin and The 24/7 Sports News Beast.   It’s Mark Cuban and Jerry Jones and Belichek and The Mannings.  It’s YOUR dumb AD.  It’s THEIR dumb AD.   It’s giant flat-screens.   It’s sports bars with too many choices of wings.   It’s social media.   It’s illiterate millionaires who “tweet”.   It’s scantly-clad cheerleaders.  It’s 9:00 games.  It’s faux-intellectual academaniacs who hate jocks.

And, if God in all His wisdom, would just stop caring about the birds in the air and the beasts in the field and appoint YOU as The College Sports Czar you would fix 4-5 of the above issues and VOILA….. Big Time College Sports would be “fixed”.

I have it on excellent authority that ain’t gonna happen.  So we’re going to Plan B.

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I spent Saturday watching Kentucky v Wisconsin with a very nice couple whose in-depth knowledge of what they were seeing consisted of  Which one is Kentucky?  and  Wow, I didn’t know that many white kids still played basketball?  It was like sitting next to a crying baby on a three-hour plane flight in bad weather and you have a sinus headache.   Aaarrrgghh!

NOTE #1:  I am NOT a Calipari-hater.  He has exploited One&Done in the same way Dean exploited “no shot clock” in the 70s with Four Corners.   Change the rules and I betcha Calipari still shows up in April…. just like Dean did.

NOTE #2:  I REALLY tried to watch Girls’ Basketball….. sigh.   I figured their Final Four would be the best they got.   I’m sorry….. IF my daughter were playing, I would be a fan.  She isn’t…. I’m not.  But I think it’s great if you want to be.

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The upcoming BIG CHANGES are only going to involve Football and Men’s Basketball and “in the power conferences”.   If you insist on debating “how much to pay Field Hockey players” you can, but it’s irrelevant.

With only a dozen or so schools currently “making a profit” in intercollegiate athletics, adding player payroll expenses will not be an option.  PERIOD.   Many loud voices in this debate don’t know/care about the economics involved….. and the already imperiled economics of the academic element of colleges.

The UNC System’s economic woes are typical among public institutions nationwide.   Even states without an Eeeeevil Art Pope to blame have similar / worse issues.

I PREDICT:  Big Time” College Football and Men’s Basketball will both become overt commercial enterprises …… but with an umbilical attachment to colleges.

There are various organizational models that could be used.    Essentially they will be “minor leagues” for NFL / NBA with individual “team owners” who establish working relationships with colleges for use of existing facilities and “tradition”.

The product you will see on Fall Saturdays and in arenas in the Winter will look the same but “under the hood” it will be different.  The teams will “look the same” (names, uniforms, et al) and play in the same venues as now….. but “ownership” will be different.

The entire academic eligibility debate will be eliminated.  The term “student-athlete”, at least in FB and MBkB, will join “rotary phone”, “floppy disc”, and “23 Skiddo” in America’s socio-cultural attic of yesteryear.  Good riddance.

BT College FB & MBkB will be BUSINESSES with no pretense of being anything else.  Praise the Lord and check the P&L report.

Players will be contracted employees.  Will there be “limits” on size of contracts so deep-pocketed owners (ie:  Yankee, Dodgers types) can not buy dominance?   Initially yes, but how long that lasts is “iffy”.

I haven’t worked out all the myriad details yet.   How players will be recruited / drafted for each “franchise”? …… will NFL / NBA franchises have business relationships with collegiate franchises as in minor league baseball? ….. will players have a 4-5 year limited playing tenure, or unlimited? ….. what controls, if any, will colleges retain in their contract with their respective owners? ….. will owners have to “qualify” to have a franchise / what qualifications and must have a connection to their college partner?….. will some owners be crooks, jerks, and jackasses?

To that last re: “crooks, jerks, jackasses”.   Whoever ends up owning your most hated rival’s team will be for sure.   “Yours” will not be; unless he doesn’t win a lot, then he will be too.  Board monkeys WILL SURVIVE.   Board Monkeys will ALWAYS survive.

Since the Lunatic Faction survives so will another integral part of college sports.  The stoopid, blind, crooked refs WILL still be “out to get” your team.  Not anyone else’s team…. just yours.

Colleges will RENT their existing venues to team owners.   That substantial rental income will then be used by colleges to operate their “non-revenue (Olympic?) sports”.

IF the “pay the players” movement insists on paying the non-revenue sport athletes, then those sports will revert to “club sports” with players paying their own way to participate.

Will Big Time College Sports be given immunity from Anti-Trust Laws?   Probably not.  Politicians (on both sides) will want to jump in with both feet to really screw this up….. and will to some extent.

Yes, I hear you grumbling that  If this happens, then you will stop being a fan because yadda yadda yadda…. Sis Boom Baaa….. “it’s no longer my school’s student-athletes playing for Dear Ol’ Whatzamatta U”

OK.   That is always your right to do so.   Some fans left MLB after its strike and have never returned, but their seats got filled.   So will yours if you choose to leave.

Sports, college and pro, has always had its “luddite faction” resisting changes whether it was the designated hitter….. long baggy shorts….. 3 Change2pointers….. titanium drivers….. big tennis racquets….. Jackie Robinson playing for the Dodgers….. artificial turf….. domed stadiums….. and ______ .

Some changes are “good”.  Some changes are not so good.   Some end up having little/no measurable effect…… But CHANGE itself is inevitable.  Don’t believe me?  Go check your picture in your high school annual…. or even your wedding album!  OUCH!

PS:  I said there are A MYRIAD of niggly details to work out.  The above is not THE Final Official Blueprint.

But….. feel free to comment that:  “This will never work because ___________!”

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UNC J-School Legend Chuck Stone died this weekend.  Chuck was a pioneer Black Journalist and quite actively involved during the hectic early years of the Civil Rights Movement.  5-6 years ago, I spoke to Chuck’s Rotary Club in Chapel Hill.  He made it a point afterwards to say it was one of the most enjoyable programs the club had had. ….. maybe he said that to every presenter ??  Regardless, I appreciated it and recalled his kindness when I saw the notice of his passing.
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