I'm not sold on the "drop scholarship campaign," but I do know that if the NFL ever adopted a minor league than college football would suffer tremendously, and in the long run I feel football would suffer tremendously.
Besides, isn't shifting from a collegiate system to a minor league system making it moreso for the money? While the concept of student athletes in the premier college sports of football, basketball and baseball is essentially just a concept, that doesn't mean it's a bad one. It means we're on average failing to fulfill the full mission of college athletics.
Yet, it is that concept that helps make the game for me. I agree with Met's take on the national appeal and would these things:
- That college football forver maintain the diversity and relative balance of strong programs throughout the country;
- That college football maintain ties to the colleges and universities.
For the former, I love learning about the different styles and traditions of other conferences, and part of what makes the sport great is how rare the out of conference match-up is because of scheduling and travel issues. Thus, an inter-regional match-up of average schools takes on added interest because of the clash of cultures involved. I love that Michigan and Texas are both strong and successful but also hadn't met till this year!
For the latter, I've advocated altering the affiliation athletics has with schools. Something wherein players have access to courses and university benefits but it's known they're not traditional students. (D@#$, I'm forgetting the term right now) These programs could ential sponsorship from the pro sports but players across the country recieve the same package of benefits: No one's choosing Texas over LSU because of a negotiable salary. I'm also a strong advocate of professional athletics as a course of study for at least certification if not degree. I think we'd all appreciate a more intelligent pool of professional athelte out there.
But a very strong part of the appeal of the game and the reason many of us cheer for these players is that they do in some way represent the school. I despise people who root for collegiate programs like pro teams, with no regard for the virtues of the university! That's what the pro's are for. I, like many current and former students, root for my team because by golly we believe in our school and will go down swinging! That's the spirit that built the pagentry around the game, the same pagentry that has raised it to the level of success and appreciation it has today. Fight songs, conference and state rivalries, and the ability to carry that rivalry over into other sports.
I'll understand and expect changes that address the money issue (Though I think the problem lies more in coaches salaries than scholarships) and no that someday it will be less pure (amateur) than it is now, but moving whole heartedly to a semi-pro condition would IMO be the wrost thing that could happen to the game and I will fight it with every fiber of my sports-fan being.
If the NFL opened up a minor league and paid players out of high school and college to play there, how does anyone lose?
The players who only care about playing won't have to deal with the education aspect of college ball (and you know they're only taking the minimum classes to stay eligible), the college won't have to deal with players who aren't interested in being student athletes, and there would be more open spaces for kids to play because some of the minor league spaces would go to high school kids.
The tradition of college ball is so strong that they'd still get all the big TV contracts and people would still fill the stadiums to see a slightly lower level of talent.