Athletes 1, NCAA NIL after ruling
The college sports world, football in particular, probably needs to take a step back and allow itself a deep breath.
Things are just moving too fast, from all sides, it seems, and with far too much confusion and chaos.
Unfortunately there’s probably not that luxury. No time to reassess things.
Change has to happen now.
The Supreme Court of these United States was kind of piling on Monday when it basically told the NCAA that its “amateur model” was bogus and illegal, violates antitrust laws and probably should not be taken before operating heavy machinery.
It blew the top off the limits on what colleges can offer student-athletes — at least as far as any education-related expenses.
But not to worry.
Somebody, probably Nick Saban, will soon connect those dots and find a link between a Porsche 911 and the higher education process and it will be perfectly legal.
Or he probably won’t have to.
The Supreme Court let it be known, that it was only ruling on the topics before it that day. If anybody wants to challenge more of what players can get in compensation — such as cold-cash compensation — the high court subtly hinted that they’d probably get a sympathetic audience.
Unless we run out of lawyers in this country, the countdown for that is probably already underway.
That was just the latest — another cue for the rich to get richer.
Basically, the entire narrative these days seems to be that whatever the players want — or student-athletes, if you prefer — then give it to them.
They are, front and center, society’s latest victims, even if at the Power Five level they do spend most of their leisure time in facilities akin to an über upscale country club.
Yet it has been pointed out to them that life as a successful 20-year-old is sometimes not as fair and lucrative as life as for a successful 40-year-old.
So while the NCAA may be a nut-house at times, why not let the inmates run the asylum for a while?
Some players aren’t getting a shot at the playoffs to “better display my talents?” Simple. Expand the playoffs from four teams to 12 … one giant leap for mankind.
Some players aren’t happy with their playing time. Or stuck on a lousy team. No problem. Invent the transfer portal, a quick and easy, no-fault two-step to greener pastures.
Want to get paid for autographs or otherwise make some cash off that Name, Image and Likeness? Hey we’re working on it.
Not all of this is bad, of course. A lot of it makes sense, even though a wave of unintended consequences are sure to follow.
Most notably all of these new initiatives only figure to make the rich get richer.
Theoretically the top schools don’t even have to waste time recruiting backwoods high schools. Kid, go prove yourself at Frenso State or get some seasoning at Toledo and we’ll meet you with open arms at the portal.
What schools will be better situated to up the ante on the “cost of attendance” or find a few car dealers needing a 19-year-old to hawk their cars in commercials?
But the whole thing jumped the shark at recent congressional hearings.
A gaggle of politicos, most notably Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), had a fine time showing off by railing at the fat-cat easy targets like NCAA President Mark Emmert.
The condescending implication was that the NCAA had about a week to get things straight or else the government would take care of it for them on its next coffee break.
Yes, they’d quickly step in and, with a snap of the fingers, fix all the complications of a Saturday night in Death Valley.
I thought it was more apropos of a “Saturday Night Live” sketch.
As one after another pointed a schoolmarm finger at Emmert, one couldn’t help but recall those nine most terrifying words in the English language: “Hello, we’re from the government. We’re here to help.”
Maybe as soon as next week, as soon as the national infrastructure is all tidied up.
For all the NCAA’s shortcomings, I’d sooner trust the shoe companies to clean things up.
But it’s going to be hectic and confusing.
The landscape could change.
When all the dust settles, my guess is that when college football emerges from all the chaos and the reform, you’ll have Louisiana-Lafayette in the New Orleans Bowl, Oklahoma getting jack-hammered in the College Football Playoff semifinals and Alabama winning the national championship.
With everybody still making money.
Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at