Death of College Football (As we know it)
There was a very interesting quote this week that kind of flew under the sports radar.
XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck was quoted on the Dan Patrick Show saying:
(Teams in the league) “have the ability to sign a college freshman or sophomore.”
Luck added: “We haven’t dipped our toe in that pond, but we could in the future.”
The article continued on that such a business strategy could challenge the NFL. The NFL is too big and too strong for the XFL to meet it head on. What the XFL's strategy could be is to take on college football, not the NFL. The XFL could kill College Football as we know it.
The XFL finishes out the 2020 season and it simply exists. It is a moderate success and games have better ratings than the NHL, Premier League, and NASCAR.
The 2020 NFL Season starts off without a hitch. Then in October, the XFL holds its draft and chooses a smattering of high school seniors, college freshmen, and college sophomores who have zero interest in college and have reached out to the XFL about the viability of their league. The sports world is sent into a tizzy and the NFL is forced to comment. The NFL releases a generic statement: "We reiterate our Draft Rules, clearly stated on NFL.com: "To be eligible for the draft, players must have been out of high school for at least three years and must have used up their college eligibility before the start of the next college football season."
The XFL finishes out the 2021 season and it simply exists. It is a moderate success and games have better ratings than the NHL, Premier League, and NASCAR. Oh, and their leading passer is one of these three young men.
According to 24/7 sports, these are already the top quarterbacks for the class of 2021. Pick any one of the three listed for our example. Let's say Caleb Williams has a sensational senior high school season and has the credits to graduate school early. Williams finishes his senior year of football in November of 2020, graduates in January 2021, walks right onto an XFL sideline and lights it up. Instead of playing in the Under Armour All-Star game like his peers, he is making money. Not great money, but he is not controlled by the rules and mechanisms of the NCAA.
The 2021 NFL Season begins without a hitch, but every question in the preseason seems to be about XFL talent Caleb Williams. The sports world is sent into a tizzy and the NFL is forced to comment. The NFL releases a generic statement: "We reiterate our Draft Rules, clearly stated on NFL.com: "To be eligible for the draft, players must have been out of high school for at least three years and must have used up their college eligibility before the start of the next college football season."
The 2021 XFL Draft is now entirely 18 and 19 year olds. The XFL expands as young football players are excited about getting paid. Colleges like Alabama, Clemson, and Ohio State are enraged, they demand the XFL not poach their players. There is a national debate about the sanctity of college football. The NFL reiterates their Draft Rules.
The Week before Super Bowl LVI: During the bye week before the Super Bowl, the NFL reiterates their Draft Rules, then the NFL reiterates the XFL's right to draft football players as young as 18 who have finished their senior year of high school.
Reporters scratch their heads, how can the NFL speak for the XFL? Because the NFL is inking a purchase of the XFL for a billion dollars. The NFL is excited about expanding their footprint and the XFL is now the exciting spring developmental league of the NFL. Now instead of being "exploited" by college, young athletes can ply their trade in a subsidiary of the NFL Brand. The XFL quickly announces expansion teams in Europe, Canada, and Mexico for the 2023 season.
You know that big Clemson-Alabama game you used to get excited about? Those kids are now going to be playing in the big New York Guardians-L.A. Wildcats game. College football becomes the equivalent of college hockey or college baseball by the 2024 season. Now you could say that my scenario is a fairy tale, if it was the year 1990 or even 2000, it would all be pie in the sky speculation.
But today, every college football season is greeted with the same complaints that the coaches are millionaires, the schools are getting rich, and the athletes aren't even finishing school. And because it's 2020, the racial component is the elephant in the room. Pro-Football players are mostly black and the College Football hierarchy is mostly white. Name a millionaire, black college football coach. Just one.
If the NFL really thinks that college football is reaching critical mass, between the outrage of college players not getting paid, college players trying to form unions, and college players' movements being restricted, they could monetize that anger into a workable business plan.
And they wouldn't suffer the backlash. If the XFL grabs underclassmen, then the NFL buys the XFL, they have plausible deniability that they didn't kill college football. Basically Vince McMahon takes the risks, invests his money, takes the public relations hit, then once he creates a viable product, the NFL swoops in and re-brands the business.
You know, the American Way.
Think of it this way. MTV was launched in 1981 as a 24-hour a day music video station. It struggled mightily for content and played the same music videos over and over. One of the first videos played on the channel was REO Speedwagon's Take It On The Run.
The video was basically concert footage. At the beginning, MTV's victories were simply existing. By 1984, the kids loved MTV and a new generation gravitated to the channel. Even REO Speedwagon changed, they released one of the greatest music videos ever made I Do' Wanna Know.
But MTV wasn't looking for REO Speedwagon. They were looking for the next generation of artists. For a decade they were the standard bearers of youth culture through music.
You all know the story from there. MTV stopped playing videos, and the few videos that they were playing weren't from the artists who built the station. MTV couldn't distance itself away from music fast enough at the turn of the millennium. The channel barely resembled what the brand was built on. MTV's corporate philosophy evolved almost from the start due to multiple corporate strategies and synergies.
So in a generation when kids only know the NFL as major league football and the XFL as U-21 league football, look for my kids to write articles like What Ever Happened to XFL Pioneer Matt McGloin?