Josh Boutwell

The college football world is an ever-changing one and many times changes equal progress, but sometimes changes can also do more harm than good.

The college football that we all see and love right now may look completely different a few years from now as new rules and possibly even laws appear on the horizon.

One of those changes is likeness rules that the NCAA has amended to allow college athletes to make money from their likenesses.

While, we still don’t know how this is going to be implemented – or what effect it will have on the NCAA – I fully believe this is a step in the right direction. I’ve always considered myself an advocate for the athletes themselves and while I don’t subscribe to the belief that a college education is “nothing” – as some people seem to – I do believe that schools that are making literally millions off dollars off athletes can and should definitely be compensating those players more in some way.

Individual states are also proposing laws that would allow players to be paid while playing sports in college, as well.

Speaking of money, another change that is possibly coming and I think could be crippling to college athletics in general, a number of members of Congress have introduced a bill that would cap the potential salary of college coaches.

The bill – the CACIA Act of 2019 – would establish the Congressional Advisory Commission of Intercollegiate Athletics (CACIA) to “investigate the relationship between institutions of higher education and intercollegiate athletic programs” and would examine “the amount of funds expended on coaching salaries.”

“I would say this would be discussed. That’s really the only way we can stop (spiraling salaries),” Ohio University professor David Ridpath said to CBS. “As a public institution, you shouldn’t be building a lazy river or paying a strength coach a million dollars.”

Talk about capping the salaries of coaches comes at the same time that the Southeastern Conference announces that it generated a record-breaking $651 million for member schools in 2018-2019. The SEC is also on the verge of inking a reported $2.25 billion television contract with ESPN.

Telling schools that they can only spend a certain amount of money on coaching salaries, especially as the NCAA itself and conferences around the country, rake in record-setting profits, is certainly going to complicate matters.

When schools can no longer pay large salaries to top-level coaches – because they aren’t allowed to – it likely won’t take long for those record-setting profits to end. You also would think Congress would have more pressing matters to attend to.

An upstart football league could also be hitting college football explicitly as the XFL is reportedly planning to allow teams to draft college underclassmen.

If the XFL makes it through its first year and continues on – the original XFL died after its inaugural season – the league has repeatedly reiterated that it doesn’t have to adhere to the NFL’s eligibility rules.

“We’re not subject to the NFL’s eligibility requirements,” XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck said in a statement. “Theoretically, we could sign a high school senior or sign a kid who’s a freshman in college.

“There’s nothing legally prohibiting us from doing that other than local labor laws. If you’re 18, you can basically work. That’s something we’ll look at going forward.”

The NFL’s eligibility rules state that a player has to be three years – at least – removed from high school before they can be drafted or signed to an NFL roster.

With the XFL unable to pay the types of salaries it would take to bring in top-tier talent, paying high school seniors or college underclassmen $50,000 a year – the average XFL salary – could be a game changer for some kids.

This could spell trouble for college football but might not be the best thing for the athletes either, at least for the top level athletes.

For many college football is its own developmental league where players get a chance to play against higher level competition than high school and also further develop their skills studying under top coaches in the game.

Currently, XFL coaching staffs are made up of ex college and NFL coaches along with young, up and coming coaches. If the XFL fails to develop talent in the same manner as college football has, a player could see their NFL hopes dry up and would no longer have the ability to play in college football, because of amateurism rules.

In the NBA, college freshmen can be drafted – though in previous years high school seniors could be drafted – but I don’t believe many fans, analysts, players or coaches would argue that the transition from high school basketball to the NBA is anything remotely similar to the transition of high school football to the NFL.

Regardless, of what comes of any of these rules and laws being proposed, the one thing that is certain is that college athletics is changing. I’m just not sure it’s for the better.

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