GameDay: Money For Nothing

Okay, I have to take a couple of minutes to talk about the whole Cam Newton situation.  It seems like in the last couple of weeks, there’s been a vendetta against this guy.  Is it because he had a rough past?  Or is it because the SEC can’t handle other teams doing well?  At the end of the day, however, the discussion of players looking to get paid in college has come to a head.  What I say is that you need to pay the players, even with more stipend or a more comprehensive scholarship.

You may wonder, what’s up with Cam Newton?  He’s the quarterback of the undefeated Auburn Tigers in the SEC.  Right now, he’s the frontrunner for the Heismen Trophy.  Newton puts up consistent numbers week in and week out.  Now he used to be at Florid behind Tebow and he left to go to a Juco college.  After some heavy recruiting, including Kansas State, he landed at Auburn.  So he went from one big time school to a small school to another big time school.  Allegations from other schools, including Mississippi State, reveal that Cam Newton and his dad were looking to get paid for Cam to play for a school.

We are in a culture now where college football players are assumed to be taking money on the side.  Whether it’s from sports agents to college recruiters, any big time player will have that ‘guilty until proven innocent’ look.  All the thanks goes back to Reggie Bush and his Heisman campaign of a couple of years ago.   Now we have NFL agents admitting to dumping cash through runners and coalitions talking about cleaning up the money part of the amateur to professional transition.  That’s nice and all but is getting paid a big deal?

These kids are considered adults past the age of 18.  They can die for our country at war.  If they are talented enough to make a college football program better, they should get paid for it.  Yes, they get a full ride scholarship, but they are saddled with extra work not only from school but from the time it takes to practice and study the game.  As a recent study points out, the scholarships they do get hardly pays for all the cost relating to student life on campus.  That means not only do they have school and football life to deal with, some of them may need to take on a part time job to make ends meet.

Most of the kids that are mega talented in football usually come from underprivileged settings.  They can’t expect parents to fund their way through college.  So it’s either taking out loans, which may or may not happen due to their credit score, or pay their way themselves.   When an 18 year old, capable of making adult decisions, looks at the opportunity the NFL presents, 9 times out of 10 they will focus on that.  At that age you can take the giant risk and not setback too far.  Now factor that in with helping out his family who may be poor.  Of course they’ll take money and I promise you most of the talented kids today do.

So what’s the issue here?  It’s the colleges.  They see it as a competitive advantage to pay kids that will get their school name mentioned all over the place.  They also know the business of football and take every opportunity to cash in on it.  Just look at the Nebraska Cornhuskers auctioning off worn gameday jerseys to help ‘raise funds.‘  Yet when Georgia player AJ Green sells his jersey to make some extra cash, he gets suspended.  The real culprit here are college squeezing the kids as hard as they can to fill their pockets.

When a Mississippi State doesn’t pay up to talented kid and misses out on the potential money, they’ll do the next best thing.  They’ll leak out info about how a Cam Newton was looking to get paid.  If Cam Newton wasn’t a Heisman hopeful, we would never hear about this.  Florida piled on and now Auburn is mum on the whole situation.  You know why?  Because they all play the game.

The game no longer plays itself out on the field, unfortunately.  There’s back room dealing and positioning that schools do what we don’t know about.  If there’s a competitive advantage to take, the colleges will take it.  A good example is how sometimes the day before a bowl game a girl accuses a star player of molesting here and then all of the sudden the charges drop after the game.  Well, tack on kids getting paid as another tool in the box.  Well I have solution:  pay the kids.

That’s right, make it public and make it okay.  That way, the players won’t have to rob a bank or take on another job to make ends meet.  Schools won’t have to be so cloak and dagger about recruiting players.  We can all get over about how an adult will get paid for being more talented in a sport than another.  The players can spend their time studying instead of taking on extra jobs.  It’s the right thing to do, I’m just not sure the schools can loosen their fingers around the necks of these players.