Op/Ed College Football Could be Salvaged by Farm System

College football is corrupt. The coaches, players, and the larger organizations that oversee college football perpetuate this reputation of ethical blemishes through their dishonesty and their misconduct. College athletes are, for the most part, not scholar-athletes, but often a virtually absent presence in the student body. These students are repurposed to be solely athletes that are required to be huge media presences, as they define the rest of their football career in two years.
Recent developments at the University of Southern California, which had been held as the poster program of college football and athletic excellence until 2010, now spark swirling controversy around college football ethics.
Current senior cornerback Josh Shaw explained the mystery of his two broken ankles by manufacturing a lie that presented himself as a heroic figure who miraculously jumped from the second story balcony of an apartment complex to come to the rescue of his drowning nephew.
In response, the University of Southern California published a feature article on their website, evidently buying into the lie. ESPN was deceived as well, running multiple spotlight stories about Shaw and his brave stunt. Eventually, many sources emerged with claims that the courageous deed was, in fact, a cover up story to distract inquiries concerning Shaw’s ankles. A multitude of sources pointed towards Josh Shaw actually being involved in a domestic violence case. However, the Central Division of the LAPD has declined to release any information. The detectives in the Los Angeles Police Department have put the case temporarily “on hold,” mostly in response to Shaw’s refusal to be interviewed by any officers or press representatives.
In 2012, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) doled out debilitating sanctions against USC, which included the vacating of the final two wins of the 2004 championship season. The school was also banned from bowl games in 2010 and 2011 and stripped 30 scholarships over three years.
This issue does not solely occur at USC, rather the larger football conglomerate. A recent report from the University of North Carolina found that administrators have been organizing “no show classes” that are billed as traditional lecture classes, but for full credit require only a single paper that has often been plagiarized.
This grade-boosting scheme is in place to ensure that these athletes can focus solely on sports. This is not the first case in which college administrations have inflated the grades of athletes.
At its core, the issue lies in the absence of a farm system for the National Football League. The opportunity of a farm system for collegiate football players would relieve the pressure to solely be an athlete, allow for more crucial development, and finally offer an alternative to professional football.
A farm system could control, and potentially eliminate, more controversial events within the community of collegiate athletes. With the presence of a farm system, the scattering of the media attention would lighten the pressure placed on the players, as well as afford them valuable time to mature and develop as people and athletes. Athletes, provided the opportunity to take their time getting to the NFL, would be more effective students and would compose themselves in a more mature light in the eye of the media.
Rather than following the model of professional leagues such as the MLB, NBA, or NHL, the NCAA has entirely disregarded implementing a functional farm system. Because of this disparity, college football serves as the development stage for future athletes.
Most college athletes set their sights on making it to the NFL, because of large guaranteed contracts that first year players are given. Playing in the NFL is a dream for most players, and money only further entices this. Because college football is the farm system for the NFL, it puts unnecessary pressure on players and effectively turns them into quasi rock stars, huge media presences that are forced to uphold certain images.
College football players who are not drafted effectively waste their educational opportunites by solely focusing on football instead of academics. Thus, many athletes come out of college not only disappointed but lacking an adequate education as well.
In some cases, athletes are recruited when they are in middle school, changing their mindsets from scholar-athletes exclusively to athletes. They are deprived of non-football competencies and they adapt their educational priorities to fit the end goal of having a career in football.
While a farm system may decrease the general popularity of college football, it would offer college athletes an opportunity to develop and prepare themselves for a career in the NFL; entering the league prematurely could hurt their chances of having an extended career. Detroit Lions rookie tight end Eric Ebron recently disclosed that he feels mentally fatigued during his first year in the NFL. Ebron stated “You start to get zombified sooner or later. I don’t even know if zombified is a word, but you just turn into a zombie mentally.” Ebron’s reaction to the pace of the league is not atypical to many first year players.
Unlike college football players, college baseball players are afforded a choice. If they are not ready to enter professional baseball they can defer to the Minor Leagues and hopefully enter the MLB. For college football players, this choice doesn’t exist.
A farm system would be in the best interest of the players, the NCAA, and the NFL and would ensure a reasonable education and football career.

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About John Kevane

John Keenon Kevane, better known by his stage name, @swVg_l0rd, is an All American squash player and has received praised from the likes of Dijon McFarlane and Horst Simco. He is most well known for his modern rendition of the truly timeless classic "Saw Theme (Remix) - BoneCrusher feat. Lil Jon & Fatman Scoop."

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