Why do so many college football fans side with the program over the players?
It’s more of an involuntary reflex than a measured reaction, like seeing evidence of an alleged bad call that helped your team in 2009 and immediately tweeting a picture of an alleged bad call that hurt your team in 1995.
Support the elimination of a school’s unlimited and unwarranted power to block a transfer from select destinations, and you’ll be labeled everything from a snowflake to a Yankee carpetbagger.
Wait. Yankee carpetbagger? Is there another kind?
Historical redundancy aside, the end of Independence Week seems like a good time to ask a college football question. Why do so many fans side with the program over the players when it comes to transfers – and everything else?
No doubt some of the same Auburn fans who applaud Gus Malzahn for blocking Antwaun Jackson’s ability to transfer to another SEC school, a school on this year’s schedule or Ohio State were thrilled when Mark Richt didn’t block Georgia safety Tray Matthews from moving to Auburn.
Matthews will be one of Auburn’s representatives this week at SEC Media Days.
Certainly some of the same Alabama fans who think Nick Saban shouldn’t have relented on his initial stance blocking Maurice Smith from transferring to Georgia as a grad student were big fans of Jake Coker.
Coker transferred from Florida State to Alabama. As a grad student. It took him a year longer than expected to become the starting quarterback in Tuscaloosa, but the Crimson Tide doesn’t win the 2015 national title without him.
As much credit as Saban receives and deserves for running the best college football program in the country, he hasn’t thrown a pass or picked one off en route to Alabama’s four national titles on his watch.
As entertaining as it was to watch him verbally decapitate Lane Kiffin at the close of the Western Kentucky exhibition last season, 101,000 people don’t show up in Bryant-Denny Stadium for those sideline explosions. They pay a premium to have the privilege of buying a ticket to see Jalen Hurts throw, Calvin Ridley catch, Bo Scarbrough run and Da’Ron Payne turn blockers into human flapjacks.
Their names change from year to year, but the players are the essential part of this enterprise. Their performances provide the entertainment and ego gratification that fuels the college football industrial complex.
In short, as vital as coaches are to the success of their programs, you could play college football without them. You couldn’t play it without the players.
Yet every common-sense step made toward rewarding the players for their essential contributions – short of actually paying them in relation to the revenue they generate – is met with some fierce blowback. Plenty of fans seem to think those players should show up, shut up and bow down in thanks for the opportunity.
As one email correspondent reasoned, in response to the NCAA Division I Transfer Working Group’s ideas, “Nobody forced them to play – they could just pay their way and go to school. Instead they have everything paid for, (they’re) treated like kings, and if they play their cards right, they are set for life.”
They also happen to work full-time as athletes and students. They willingly risk their future health for the chance to become part of the small percentage of players who make a living at their sport in the NFL.
Do you really want a millionaire coach to be able to financially punish an unpaid student-athlete by keeping him off scholarship for a year if the coach disapproves of his transfer destination?
Apparently many of you do, especially if a player wants to leave your favorite school. As another person put it by email, “Anytime a prima donna feels he’s not getting enough playing time he’ll pout and want to transfer.”
And the anti-transfer crowd screams, “Free agency! Chaos! Super teams!”
Funny thing about that. One NBA team has won two of the last three titles. One college football program has won four of the last eight national championships. How have Golden State and Alabama done it? In large part by collecting superior talent.
Which brings us back to recognizing the importance of players and putting them first. On the pro and college level. Even when they change teams. Like Alabama’s last national championship quarterback did.
After all, what’s more American than finding the right home/school/employer for you?
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Published at Sun, 09 Jul 2017 15:32:36 +0000