There now appears to be 4 teams in the hunt for the BCS title. Kansas State who continues to dominant Big 12 competition behind the leadership of Collin Klein and Bill Snyder. Notre Dame whose dominance on defense is second only to Alabama. Oregon who continues to score at a Playstation clip. And the reigning champ in Alabama who appears to be invincible.
However, the topic this week is the injury to Marcus Lattimore and what it should mean for college football players, fans and the NCAA. Nearly 15 years ago I wrote a paper about why college athletes should not get paid. As I remember it received very high marks. That paper was written by a young man that saw the world in black and white. From my standpoint the player was getting a huge benefit of a college education and I even went as far to say that if they left college early they should payback the institution the scholarship money because they never completed their college education.
Maybe it is age, experience, fatherhood or simply my occupation but I rarely see many things in black and white anymore. As so today I come to the realization that escaped me in my youth. A realization that players are simply assets to the NCAA and if they aren’t going to be paid (which I’m still not in favor of) then at a minimum they need to be protected. You see Marcus Lattimore was a sure fire NFL 1st rounder and then he tore his ACL. After a year of rehab Lattimore returned to the field for the University of South Carolina lugging a huge kneebrace. He wasn’t the same…a step slower but still all-conference good. On Saturday Lattimore suffered a knee injury that you wouldn’t wish on your worse enemy. Tears of pretty much every ligament that protects your knee and a dislocated knee cap. The image that still runs through my head is seeing his leg at such an awful angle that I had to look away from the screen. So what is next for Marcus Lattimore?
Steve Spurrier indicated that “Marcus will be successful in any profession he pursues.” But that probably won’t be football Mr. Spurrier and therein lies the problem. Lattimore is talking about returning next year and although I wish that young man the best his plans for playing in the NFL are likely dead. One person quoted that “Hopefully Mr. Lattimore is a true student-athlete.” Really….Marcus Lattimore is a football player who was not allowed to pursue his NFL dream because of the framework of the NFL and the NCAA. I’m okay with the NFL not allowing 18 year olds to declare for the draft but their interests should be protected. And those interests are protected by a $200 stipend every week. They should be protected in the same way I protect my son and wife if I get in a car accident tomorrow and die; through an insurance policy.
It is real simple – let the NCAA protect the athlete that they profit so much from by providing an insurance policy for those athletes that are viewed by the NFL as 1st-5th round picks. Their policy would be based on how good they are and the premium would be paid by the institution for which they play. To me this does two things (1) it protects what is left of the integrity of college sports and (2) it protects the young man or woman that is prevented from pursuing a dream because of service that is “required” by the NCAA. From my perspective this resolution appeals to both the 35 year old father and the 20 years old ideologist.