It is no secret that college football needs a shake up. There has been increasing talk about the need of a central figure to lead college football into a new era that benefits players, coaches and the universities.
SB Nation has answered the call, nominating acclaimed college football wiz Bill Connelly as a potential commissioner for the sport.
If you have not been reading Connelly's run for commissioner of college football, he details his vision for the sport that has no watchdog at the top. He makes a compelling case of how he would change the game for the better, which includes a student-athlete bill of rights, expanding the playoffs and bringing back the EA Sports' NCAA Football video game. It also tackles the issue surrounding amateurism by following the Olympic model for paying athletes.
Much of Connelly's plan revolves around athletes receiving their share of the wealth from playing football. He breaks down how players will be compensated and what it means for schools and recruits. Meanwhile, the NCAA makes no payments, losing nothing in the process.
Rather than the NCAA having to pay every student-athlete, outside sources will pay players. Long story short, endorsements would allow players to be paid, based on their performance. While every player will receive some sort of income, top players can earn more. As Connelly explains, "we don't have to worry about paying a third-string defensive tackle or a red shirting tennis player as much as a Heisman candidate, because we aren't the ones paying."
However, there was one key note that stuck out in his explanation of how this would have an impact on recruiting:
"Meanwhile, one potential effect of the Olympic model is that some players might decide that being the big fish at a smaller school is a better way to stand out."
Coaches will use this to their advantage. While the coach cannot guarantee what a student-athlete would make, a coach from a G5 school could pry a recruit from a Power 5 program by using potential earnings as a recruiting tactic. Recruits would have to weigh their options on whether to go to that big school and be just another guy, or attend a small school and be the star for that program.
More importantly, this could seriously shake up the landscape in how quarterbacks are recruited nationally.
For the sake of this article, let's say Joe Doe is a highly-ranked four-star quarterback recruit from the state of Pennsylvania. Doe has multiple offers from in-state schools such Penn State, Pittsburgh and Temple. He also is being heavily recruited by schools in Ohio, including Cincinnati and Bowling Green.
There were already a lot of different variables that go into a player choosing a school - playing time, style of offense, coaching staff to name a few - but money changes everything. Doe wants to make as much money as possible in his college years. He knows that his best chance at doing so is playing right away.
The top programs on Doe's list have brought in other top-rated quarterback prospects in recent years, which is not uncommon. We have seen countless times when a school already has a top recruit and lands another at the same position the following year. Doe would either have to beat out the competition or wait for his turn to play. He would have to worry that once he is on campus, another star recruit could come in and battle him in the upcoming years. Essentially, he's not guaranteed to make any money.
Or he could chose to go to Temple or Bowling Green, be the face of the program and have few concerns about a better recruit taking his spot. He is the starter the moment he steps on campus, enhancing his earning potential. He will play against lesser competition that will allow him to pad his stats, giving him a better chance at being an all-conference selection. All of those accolades would drive up his asking price for potential endorsements deals.
This applies to every position as well. Top talents could pick schools with lesser talent ahead of them for the same reasoning. A highly-ranked running back would be less likely to join a crowded backfield at Texas if he could be the star at Houston or SMU right away. A linebacker could choose Troy over Alabama or Auburn for the same reasoning.
More exposure equals more potential money. Some might argue that choosing money over the competition is a cop out, but let's face it, money drives many of the decisions we all make in life. Not every player is going to make it to the NFL so college could be their only chance to make revenue from playing football. Many of our athletes are struggling to even get to college, so making even a little bit of money playing football would be a blessing.
Let's not say it's a bulletproof idea, however, as G5 schools could be completely eliminated in the recruiting process. Boosters from the bigger programs can form relationships with endorsement companies, and a potential system in which the companies, not the schools, are running the recruiting trail. We could see bidding wars with the company with the highest dollar figure landing the top prospects. The small schools likely wouldn't be able to compete with that.
The one competitive advantage this could create is increased parity in the game. More players become attracted to G5 schools that could potentially earn them more dollars than the power conferences. On the field, it leads to less out-of-conference games with lopsided scores. If the small school puts up a fight, or better yet pulls off the upset, recruits will take notice.
It is a more complex issue than simply paying the players and expecting that the G5 schools are on the same level as the power conferences. In the end, like any decision, it will come down to a player's choice. However, money does have a way of making things more complicated. If coaches play their cards right, it could lead to better recruiting classes, and ultimately, a legitimate chance of a G5 program competing in the College Football Playoff.