Does the NCAA understand why people go to college? The answer is painfully obvious: People go to college to better their position in life. Really, it is that simple.
Universities always try to make themselves sound like noble institutions. They paint their students as lovers of knowledge. In reality, colleges are companies selling a service to pragmatic consumers.
Trust me on this—I am currently a college student. I am certainly not an "average" student (I mean, I put time into writing sports articles without getting paid).
However, as interesting as I may find certain classes, I would not attend if I wasn't getting credits that will help me get a better job in the future.
Most people need classes and passing grades. College isn't about college; it's about a future career.
Star athletes are the exception. For the select few, a degree is not required to join the upper class. Look at all the players who never finish college (basketball illustrates this best with the ridiculous "one-and-done" concept). Matthew Stafford didn't need a degree to get a $45 million contract.
By being athletic and intelligent on a football field, athletes like Stafford need the football team, not the classroom, to better their position in life. A great coach will improve their standard of living far more than any professor can.
College football is a wonderful tradition, but it inevitably will be exploited by its stars. Great athletes use the institution as way to showcase and improve their talents. The institutions use the star athletes to generate revenue and fund all the other sports that don't receive national attention.
Thousands of young adults have been awarded scholarships. Because millions of people want to watch the Reggie Bushes and Vince Youngs, anonymous second-string defenders get a free education.
The recent allegations concerning Heisman favorite Cam Newton are being blown out of proportion. By allegedly cheating at Florida, he became the center of the latest student athlete scandal.
The details change, but every controversy is basically the same. Player A took money from agents. Player B doesn't attend class. Player C received gifts during the recruiting process.
I honestly don't care about any of that. I watch big-time college football because I like football. If I wanted to see future doctors and lawyers represent their institutions with pride and class, I'd watch Ivy League football.
Would it be great if every player was like Tim Tebow? Of course, but the reality is most stars are biding their time before becoming millionaires. They use their local celebrity to get laid and drink for free. Education doesn't enter into the equation for them to enjoy life.
The NCAA needs to get this. Athletes are not all that different from regular students. Both use the universities to climb up the socioeconomic ladder, only athletes use the field instead of the classroom. If I could run a 4.40 40-yard dash, I would too.