How the SEC Would Look If Universities Determined Pay-for-Play Amount

Tyler SmithContributor IIMay 31, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 09:  Head coach Les Miles of the Louisiana State University Tigers shouts from the sidelines against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the 2012 Allstate BCS National Championship Game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 9, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

As reported by ESPN, this week South Carolina head football coach Steve Spurrier further advocated his belief that all SEC football players should receive a yearly stipend or salary. The NCAA is considering a stipend of $2,000—a much smaller amount than the $4,000 he is pushing for now.

The complications of this system are limitless.

To start, Title IX would have to be wiped clean. There is not a single financial or mathematical formula in existence that could possibly prove that women’s sports draw enough revenue to provide a salary to its athletes.

Secondly, not all collegiate sports make a profit. This would lead to football and basketball serving as the backbone to ensure that all athletes are compensated fairly. Baseball, track and golf are all popular unisex sports with absolutely no financial merit.

Nick Saban and Les Miles do not spent countless hours jet-setting the country wrangling top talent to share the glory, pride and financial gain that come with operating a successful SEC football program.

It’s also no coincidence that the pay-to-play conversation surfaces every year around summertime going into college football season. College football is really the only sport that warrants the justification. Men’s basketball is on the brink, and no other sport is a close third.

One of the most instrumental steps in approving the student athlete stipend is determining how the less-rich (for lack of better terms) programs will remain competitive.

Which got me to thinking…what if it wasn’t a fair system? What if each school could operate as a business and invest in a players' stipend however large its university board of directors approved?

In which case the SEC would look a little something like this…

1. LSU Tigers 

Baton Rouge would ultimately gain the largest advantage. LSU’s football program has a current estimated value of $96 million with $47 million in football profit. That’s right—it takes Les Miles and his squad only four months to generate more profit than the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions combined during a five-month NFL season.

With successful sports comes the rise in student population. LSU would eventually compete with Texas in terms of athletic dominance and overall size. Les Miles is sitting on the golden wagon—keep your hat on.

2.  Alabama Crimson Tide        

Nick Saban and crew aren’t too far behind LSU with a $93 million price tag on their program. The Tide was second in revenue behind Texas with $77 million. Saban would keep Tuscaloosa in the college football scene with excellent coaching and his maintenance of the current NFL pipeline he’s constructed. The top recruits care about one thing: going pro. If Saban can manage that expectation and succeed, he shouldn’t have a problem.

3. Georgia Bulldogs

Athens would uphold its rowdy game day reputation but probably lose the tough recruiting battles to Alabama and LSU. Georgia’s $90 million value is seventh in nation and one of the more consistent in history along with Penn State. Whether UGA starts paying its players or not, Mark Richt needs to get the hell out of town for the Bulldogs to do anything of value.

4. Arkansas Razorbacks

There was little reason to doubt Razorback nation when they rolled out the red carpet to Bobby Petrino and signed him to a $26 million contract in 2006. Fayetteville may have the third-lowest Income-to-citizen ratio in the country in most part because every dime goes to football. Arkansas falls right under Georgia with an estimated value of $89 million. However, the program has had the fastest growth in the country since 2009.

Petrino had no business wrecking that damn motorcycle…

5. Auburn Tigers

Auburn has traditionally been one of the higher revenue producing teams in the SEC. It seems like every six years the program resurfaces and inserts itself into the BCS talks. A value of $88 million is pretty damn good for a school that seems to constantly be playing catch up with its cross-state rival Alabama. That value also gleamed in the eye of Cecil Newton when he was shopping his son around like a Michael Jackson asset.

The Florida Gators would signal the beginning of the end for the remainder of the SEC football programs. With the previous programs gobbling up all of the talent and paying their players, the competition factor would no longer exist for the remaining channel cats. While the Gators are third in the nation in regards to sold merchandise, they don’t tilt the bill in revenue, with an estimated value of $85 million.

Tennessee would keep light in the crack with its rich tradition. Nonetheless, Knoxville will always be a great place to party. But a football program worth $82 million is nothing to balk at.

South Carolina, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Missouri, Kentucky, Mississippi State and Ole Miss would eventually become home to music fests and liberal arts conventions.