The Pacific Pro Football league is coming in 2018, and it has many wondering just what kind of impact it will have on the football world. The newly announced league is focused on being a developmental league that will aim to prepare football players out of high school to take their game to the next level in the NFL. Will it be a true threat to the NCAA product?
In theory, yes, it absolutely could be a viable alternative to the NCAA, but there are too many unknowns at play right now for anyone to credibly suggest this is going to take away all of the top talent that comes through the recruiting pipeline.
If Pac Pro model catches on could be quite the threat to the NCAA's free-labor monopoly in that age demographic. Play to start in 2018
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) January 11, 2017
As outlined by Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports, Pacific Pro Football will consist of four teams in Southern California, with each team having a roster of 50 players that will be employed by the league (no individual team owners in this league). That fact right there is pretty key to the picture, as it means players will be paid for their participation in the league, where players are not (legally) paid at this time when taking a scholarship at a college football program. Players will each be paid about $50,000, with each player being paid an equal share. On top of that, players in the league are eligible for tuition reimbursement at a community college, and there is a model for full worker’s compensation.
The league will only be open to players in their first four years out of high school. Players can join the league right out of high school or join the league after one or two years at any college level. The major draw of the league will be getting players trained in a pro-style offensive system. No spread offenses here, just what players in the NFL should be prepared to play in. The league also has some good names attached to it in some capacity, including former NFL coach Mike Shanahan, former NFL wide receiver Ed McCaffrey (also the father of NFL-bound Christian McCaffrey) and veteran sports agent Donald Yee (Tom Brady’s current agent). The three are spearheading the league, according to Wetzel.
Is the Pacific Pro League about to shatter the NCAA structure? In theory, it could absolutely provide a viable alternative to the college football structure for those who feel they can take their game to the next level, but for now playing at Alabama or Florida State or Ohio State or USC still offers many more advantages and perks that playing in Pacific Pro Football can offer. Granted, this developmental league has time to prepare to make the league as attractive as possible for potential future NFL players, but it will have to prove long-term stability before any player should risk participating in the league.
Keep in mind that any player participating in Pacific Pro Football will be a paid employee, thus making them ineligible to receive a scholarship at a college program in the future. What happens to a talented player who takes a chance on the developmental league, cashes a paycheck and sees the league fold after one or two years? That leaves that player without any options to play college football for a year or two before hoping to get into the NFL. It is a bit of a leap of faith until Pacific Pro Football proves it is here to stay.
So is Alabama going to be threatened on the recruiting trail by a startup developmental league? Hardly. Not now at least. But if this new league can gain traction, the door to a new alternative could be opening.