Once a quiet whisper, the NFL lockout talk is cranked up like an Eddie Van Halen guitar solo.
The NFL is coming up on a potential lockout due to an expiring collective bargaining agreement (CBA). If the NFL owners and players don't come to an agreement soon, the 2010 season will not have a salary cap and that will certainly lead to a lockout in 2011.
The last time the NFL experienced a work stoppage was in 1987 when the players went on strike.
We all know how the fans feel about strikes and lockouts. What's the difference between a strike and a lockout?
A strike is chosen by the players (labor). They choose not to work.
A lockout is forced by the owners. They prevent the players (labor) from working.
We all know how the fans would react to a lockout. The owners know if production stops then revenues are lost. Of course if the players are not allowed to work they will not be paid. So who would benefit from a NFL lockout?
Yes, I would bet that the NCAA would be thrilled with a NFL lockout. You may ask: why?
Let's take a look at the reasons.
Let's face it—the NFL is and will always be larger than college football. The NFL has a huge following not only in the United States, but in Canada, Mexico, and in European countries.
Without NFL games, the NCAA may have an opportunity to gain fans from other countries, too. Think about it—not that Texas doesn't have fans from Mexico, or the Big 10 hasn't caught the attention of the Great White North, but surely the international community may give college football a more thorough look.
Perhaps another bowl game could emerge outside the borders of the United States. Remember this year's International Bowl in Toronto?
It's the end of the 2010 season, and you are a junior coming off an excellent season. Normally, you would contemplate hiring an agent to handle your professional matters when you inform your team that you are forgoing your senior season.
However, it's different this time out. The NFL owners are ordering a holdout, i.e. there will be no 2011 season, or at the very least uncertainty for the 2011 season ever happening.
Do you stay in school and risk injury (does Sam Bradford ring a bell?) and finish your degree, or do you chance it and forgo your senior season?
Politics play a big role in big business, and don't doubt for a moment that college and pro sports aren't in competition with each other.
A lockout would seriously damage the athlete-fan relationship for the NFL, and the NCAA knows it.
How would the NCAA leverage that fan anger? Would the anger do the same damage to the NFL as it did previously to baseball?
How far would the NCAA go to turn fans against the NFL? What weapons do they have at their disposal?
Let's hope an NFL lockout doesn't happen, but if it does, it will be interesting how the NCAA reacts.