If you don’t want to hear me going on all economics wonk, skip down to item No. 2.
1. The controversy last week over the restrictions governing transfers in college athletics raised an interesting discussion – at least, I think it was interesting – between myself, columnist John Walters of The Daily and John Infante, assistant director of compliance at Colorado St. and microbrew aficionado, about the realities of the college “labor market.”
Specifically, if the terms of scholarships are so onerous, why not go all Cesar Chavez on the schools? What better way to get their bread and roses than to organize a massive strike and shut down college sports?
We have to start any such discussion with the recognition that the vast majority of scholarship athletes have no leverage to gain from a strike. Swimmers and cross-country runners and the like have little economic value to the school and, as such, can be easily replaced. (In fact, you could argue that from a purely economic standpoint, they’d be doing the schools a favor.)
Frankly, the only “employees” who would have leverage are the star athletes in revenue-generating sports (football and men’s college basketball). So what’s stopping them?
In reality, valuable college athletes’ “careers” are so short that effectively organizing is a pipe dream. If their ultimate objective is to play professionally, school is a way station, and the NBA and NFL have no reason to implement a robust developmental system.
Plus, imagine what the incentives would be like for athletes with professional aspirations to cross the picket line if a strike ever did go into effect. If you’re playing while other prospects are sitting on the sidelines, that gives you a huge leg up in the evaluation process for the draft.
As romantic as the idea of a workers’ rebellion on the college level may seem, it’s simply not realistic.
2. The bigger problem, to me, is the perversity of even having this discussion about a group of people who we’re constantly told are “student-athletes,” not employees of the school. If you can give me a reason why it’s in the best interest of students to give schools the power to restrict their ability to transfer, I’m all ears.
I mean, we’re still talking about the educational system, right?
3. Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune reported over the weekend that the “home game” college football playoff proposal is dying on the vine. Frankly, that sucks.
The possibility of playing a home semifinal game offers a helluva reward for the two top-ranked teams. It also eases the overall travel burden on fans and players.
Instead, teams will get shipped off to neutral sites where they will play in front of non-partisan crowds. In that respect, is there really a difference between being No. 1 and No. 4? And if there’s no reward for the higher seed, doesn’t that dilute the value of the regular season a tad?
Blah. This kind of thing is why I’m not that jazzed about a playoff in college football.
4. Despite anonymous trash-talkers bent on bringing him down, Robert Griffin III is the story in the sports world right now.
Every newspaper and online sports site worth its salt has done some kind of glowing profile on the savior of Baylor football recently. None did it better than Rick Maese of The Washington Post, who captured a wealth of insight into what makes the future Redskins quarterback tick in a feature that ran over the weekend. For writers, Maese’s work illustrates that asking the right questions and getting your subject to open up goes much further in penning a good profile article than any insight or wordsmithery you bring to the table on your own.
If you haven’t read the Post article yet, take five minutes to read it. Watch out, Tim Tebow, because RG3 is coming for you.
5. All signs point to Arkansas naming an interim head coach today to complete the 2012 season. So instead of Bobby Petrino running the show, Paul Haynes or Taver Johnson or some other not-ready-for-primetime coach will lead the Razorbacks through a season in which they were expected to compete for a national championship.
I’m not big on singing Hosannas for someone who simply did his job – and make no mistake, Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long really had no choice in this case. Even so, when you think about the difference between who was supposed to be coaching the Hogs this year and who will be, you can’t help but have a better appreciation for the pressure Long was facing.
And if you know any Hog fans personally, you really get it. They are severely underrated among the nation’s unhinged.
6. The crew at Friends of the Program have rightfully received plaudits in the past few weeks for their coverage of L’Affaire Dorrell in Fayetteville. I’ll be podcasting tonight with Bunkie Perkins, head honcho of FOTP, about the Petrino scandal and all the spring doings at Ole Miss.
7. Speaking of tough decisions, it just keeps getting more awkward in State College, as it was reported over the weekend that the Paterno family had declined an offer to rename Beaver Stadium after JoePa.
The Paternos have the upper hand here in a big way. Given the rest of Penn State’s ongoing legal entanglements, the last thing the school needs is an ugly settlement dispute with the family of an icon who is still beloved in its community.
To this point, both sides have kept negotiations on the down low. If the Paternos decide they want to drag out the fight in public, watch out.
8. Even though I consider myself a far more casual fan of the NFL than I am when it comes to college football, I can’t get enough of draft season.
Last week, Michael Lombardi of the NFL Network compiled the wisdom of the great Bill Walsh into a series of 10,000-foot-view nuggets that explain how one of the best draft strategists in history. It’s easily the best article that I’ve read this year on the draft process.
9. While we’re on the subject of the draft, is it just me, or is Jon Gruden just getting increasingly bizarre in those ESPN specials where he puts the quarterback prospects through their paces?
Honestly, if you view those as anything more than freakshow football porn, you’re doing it wrong.
(And Nick Foles? Come on.)
10. I’ve had 1969: The Velvet Underground Live in heavy rotation lately. Think I’m about ready to declare it the best concert album in history. (It’s up there in disturbing album covers, too.)
Hit me up with some of the other live albums that you think deserve consideration. In the meantime, dig this: