It's no secret that the NFL is the most successful money-making sports venture in the world, with the possible exception of European soccer . With the recent discussions of this or that player being "worth" $X Million recently, perhaps we should ask ourselves, and the mysterious Powers That Be (Roger Goodell and the NCAAF heads) the following question:
Why is college football still called "amateur" and isn't it time to call it what it is, an indirect, if not direct, farm team of the NFL?
Let's jump to some conclusions, or at least to some data from which, perhaps, some logical assumptions can be made ...
The National Football League is the most valuable and profitable team sport in the world. This year the average team is worth $733 million, a 17% increase over last year. Operating income (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) for the 32 teams came in at $851 million on revenue of $5.3 billion, an operating margin of 16%
A more recent 2010 analysis shows the following:
Players themselves get about 55% of total team revenues, as shown in the chart below.
I think we can all agree that's a lot of money going to each team, and going out to the players. The NFL is Big Business, make no mistake about it. So where does that leave the colleges and universities who crank out the few hundred new players that the NFL depends on every year to replenish the supply of talent?
According to NCAA statistics, The University of Alabama raked in nearly $43 Million from football, with operating expenses of $14 Million. The difference? Bear Bryant's old school made a nice $29 Million. Texas cleared nearly $40 Million. What does this all mean? Clearly it shows that "amateur athletics" is a misnomer, and that College Football is, indeed, a Big Business just as much as the NFL.
So, I propose the following idea, which is most assuredly not the first time such a "plan" has been proposed, nor will it be the last.
I hereby propose that the NFL and the NCAA (Football Division) merge to become one company (as that's really what it is in many ways already). Schools that CHOOSE to participate will pay their players a salary, thus ridding us all of the pretense that college sports is a merely "for fun" enterprise. This would ensure that those schools continue to provide the NFL with top of the line players for years to come. Athletes may attend classes, or not ... as they wish. Scholarships for football will instead go to other students.
Schools that choose NOT to participate will carry on business as usual, but their playeers will NOT be paid, nor will their players be allowed to enter the NFL draft. Those schools, and those student-athletes, can continue to play football, yet still keep a focus on education.
And there you have it ... out with the illusion of college football being "all about academics" and in with making it real, and calling it what it really is: the NFL Farm System.