Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Scholarship Or The Dollars?

With the way the San Diego Padres have rebuilt their outfield this off-season, TigerBlog can't help but wonder what the future holds for one of the team's incumbents, Will Venable, Princeton Class of 2005.

The Padres have added Justin Upton, Matt Kemp and Wil Myers. Venable? There's no room for four starters.

Still, Venable has value to the Padres, for his defensive ability, baserunning, left-handed bat. He would make a pretty good fourth outfielder if the team keeps him, or would have a chance to do well someplace else, perhaps in a more hitter-friendly place.

TigerBlog started thinking about Venable while he read stories about the college football playoff and all of the money that it generated. Give him a minute. He'll explain.

The college football playoff was a long time coming. Interestingly, had Ohio State not been included in favor of TCU or Baylor, nobody would have complained. Instead, the Buckeyes snuck in and won it all.

The semifinal games were the two highest-rated programs in cable TV history - and that was before the ratings for the final. TigerBlog hasn't seen them yet, though he assumes that will join the two semifinals.

TB, for his part, watched almost none of the final. He's more fascinated by the off-field parts.

For starters, there is Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones, who first came to fame as a third-stringer, largely because of his infamous "we ain't come here to play school" tweet. Jones then became the starting quarterback when the first two were injured - and all three are back next year if they don't go to the NFL.

Here's what TigerBlog wants to know: What kind of student did Jones become? What did he learn from the negative backlash to his tweet?

Then there's the salaries of the coaches. Urban Meyer of Ohio State makes more than $5 million per year. Mark Helfrich of Oregon makes about half that, when you included bonuses.

The money that flows from college football is absurd. And, with that, comes this inevitable question: shouldn't the players get some of it?

That ties in to the intent of Jones' tweet. And let's not lose track of the fact that even though it might have been an unfortunate moment on his part, there was a lot of insight hidden in what he said.

TigerBlog hears two sides of the argument. On the one hand, why are colleges subsidizing - and profiting from - a minor league football system. If there is going to be huge money coming in, shouldn't all pretext to what's going on be ripped away and just give the players their cut?

On the other hand, statistics everywhere show the value of a college education versus not having one, and it's a substantial amount of money, on average more than $1 million over the course of a lifetime. And since even on the biggest big-time level the number of athletes going to the NFL is low, shouldn't giving young men like Jones a chance at a college education be more valuable than a salary for four years?

TigerBlog's though? Leave it up to the athletes. But only for football and men's basketball at the five power conference schools.

Those athletes get a choice: a full scholarship under the current rules or a yearly salary with no academic requirements at all for five years, with four years to compete. TB isn't sure how much the athletes would get paid. Maybe some scale. Who knows.

He wonders how many would choose the free education though, as opposed to the short-term money and then an uncertain future. 

That's where Venable came into it. Venable, and Chris Young and so many other Princeton and Ivy athletes, have made their way into the professional ranks and done very well financially. They came out of a system that isn't broken and needs no fixing (perhaps other than to say that Young could have played basketball after signing a baseball contract; not knowing how much better Princeton basketball would have been in 2000 and 2001 with Young on the team still bothers TB).

The same is true for professional athletes from the non-power conferences. They came to "play school" and found that they could still achieve at the highest level athletically.

The power conferences? If they want to make it all about the money, then give the athletes the choice. TigerBlog would hope that almost all of them would take the scholarship and education. But who knows? Maybe he's being naive.

TigerBlog keeps coming back to the idea that there are two Division I's. There is power five conference football and men's basketball, and there is everything else, including Princeton.

Holding them all to the same standards and rules is silly.

The power five conferences realized this and decided to change some of the rules, but this still doesn't really address the reality.

Give these guys the choice between a scholarship or the money.

And then it'll be possible to find out who came to play school and who didn't.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"perhaps"? The "Chris Young" rule is madness. Even worse than the prohibition of football postseason. Is it really still on the books? Can it not be changed before the next time it becomes an issue?