NCAA Football: ESPN's Outside the Lines on Fixing NCAA Problems

Mike RaffoneCorrespondent IIAugust 23, 2011

ESPN analyst Rece Davis moderated the Outside the Lines segment on College Football: Blue Print for Change.
ESPN analyst Rece Davis moderated the Outside the Lines segment on College Football: Blue Print for Change.

ESPN's most recent Outside the Lines broadcast featured a panel of BCS coaches, athletes turned sportscasters, a former Big East Conference Commissioner and a current SEC Athletic Director.

Hosted by Rece Davis, ESPN's College Football - Blueprint for Change episode focused primarily on fixing college football.  In the wake of what has recently transpired at Ohio State University and what is unfolding at the University of Miami, change—to borrow from Barack Obama campaign slogan—is now needed, in college football.  

Although a few panelists, namely college football analyst Rod Gilmore and college basketball sportscaster Jay Bilas, articulated why they favored paying NCAA players, the other Outside the Lines panelists predominantly opposed all proposals to pay college players.  

Former Ohio State Buckeye, Kirk Herbstreit strongly stated that paying college athletes, "would destroy college athletics."  While former Florida Gator national championship coach Urban Meyer eloquently added that college football isn't broke, but "what's broke, right now is human behavior." 

Other pundits like ESPN sportscaster Mark May and Alabama coach Nick Sabin agreed with Herbstreit and Meyer, echoing similar sentiments. He suggested that stiffer penalties need to be enforced against serious and/or chronic offenders. Sabin also shrewdly shared that NCAA college football is not a business, but a revenue producing organization that benefits universities at large. 

However, former Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese adamantly argued for a cost of attendance stipend, so that the NCAA could put money in the pockets of student athletes to do, in his words, "normal things" like other students. 

Tranghese's proposition, supported by Gilmore, Bilas and University of Tennessee Athletic Director Joan Cronin, was certainly the most contentious comment that culminated an otherwise tepid ESPN Outside the Lines telecast. 

Most college football followers will agree that the value of a college education is ample compensation for a star QB, a third string kicker, a red shirt freshman or a marginal practice player. 

Paying cost of attendance stipends and/or allowing a free market system to dictate how a student athlete can be remunerated for an autograph signing, an off campus appearance or other assorted money making activities would only exacerbate an imperfect system that is in need of modification, but not complete overhaul.    

What Tranghese suggests is padding the pockets of players who are already receiving free tuition, free books, free room and board, free health coverage, free tutoring, free NCAA sanctioned equipment and other perks as well as free rides on planes or luxury buses to play before tens of thousands of people in stadiums or in front of potentially millions of fans watching at home.  

If Tranghese proffers that the NCAA pay football players to do "normal things" like other students, then he should help them find adequate summer jobs and teach them to save their earnings.

Then, these same college athletes will have enough padding in their pockets to enjoy the same normal things that a majority of their fellow students are or will be paying or borrowing to do.