Doc's Morning Line: The NCAA needs NIL to be less Wild West, more Midwest

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Nick Saban, who makes $9.5 million a year to coach quasi-amateur football, isn’t thrilled that quasi-amateur football players are free to earn as much money as they can. Mississippi coach Lane Kiffin will earn a mere $7.25 mil this season. He complained that Ole Miss can’t match the “funding resources’’ of other schools. Mr. Kiffin did not suggest he’d reach into his own wallet to help make up the difference.

You get where we’re going with this?

Well, you might be wrong.

Name, Image and Likeness has turned big-money college sports on its head. As hypocritical as it is, these wealthy coaches aren’t totally wrong. The current wild-West nature that an unregulated NIL has created is not what anyone intended when it was unleashed nearly a year ago. Saban, to the AP recently:

“It creates a situation where you can basically buy players. You can do it in recruiting. I mean, if that's what we want college football to be, I don't know. And you can also get players to get in the transfer portal to see if they can get more someplace else than they can get at your place."

Of course, Alabama still managed to accumulate the No. 2 recruiting class and sign three of the top nine highest-rated transfers, according to 247Sports

Saban: "You're going to have kids out there that say, 'Well, I can get a better deal going someplace else,' and they'll go there.’’ Sounds like what you’ve done, coach.

I can understand the extra layer of complexity this puts on coaches. Football and basketball coaches now have to worry as much about keeping their current players happy as they do with acquiring new players. Luke Fickell should not have to do that. Nor should Nick Saban. Regardless of the money each makes.

A college athletic administrator recently told CBS Sports, “I still think the original concept of NIL is a good one. We have completely screwed it up by not being out front and not having parameters. … Nobody is on the same page.’’

Blame the NCAA for that. The organization had decades to figure this out. It did nothing but punish 19-year-olds for violating picayune rules.

Add to that the way coaches deliberately messed with a player’s right to transfer to a school of his choice. Yahoo:

“Some coaches used it as a punitive measure. Some blacklisted teams on upcoming schedules. Others entire conferences, states or any other program they didn’t like. There didn’t need to be a reason.

About a decade ago, "Oklahoma State wouldn’t release quarterback Wes Lunt from moving on to 38 different schools — the entire SEC, Big 12 and Pac-12, plus two other schools.’’

And when you listen to Kansas coach Bill Self spout hypocrisy, you want to lie down in a cool place. “The reality of it is, it's a whole different world out there,’’ Self told CBS. “There's opportunity for third parties to interject themselves into our world more than there ever has been. I don't know if we're going to get our arms around it. The more you get your arms around it, the more it changes shapes."

This from a coach whose program is being investigated by the NCAA for five Level 1 (most serious) violations, stemming from recruits taking money from Adidas, the Jayhawks clothier and sneaker provider.

Please insult our intelligence further, coach. We love the smell of outrage in the morning.

The world isn’t black and white. It’s gray. So is this issue.

The bleeding hearts love it. Power to the people! Let these athletes benefit financially. They are the game! A quarterback making his university and his head coach millions shouldn’t have to rely on a booster to come up with airplane tickets for his mom and dad to come to Senior Day.

This is true.

A kid making seven figures at age 20, to go to college and play a sport, well, what exactly is being taught there? Not loyalty. Not real life. A heightened and false sense of self-importance, probably. This is also true.

I don’t care about the perceived imbalance paying players could create. It didn’t last year. All the big dogs still barked. I feel for the coaches whose heads are spinning, but they’ll adjust. They’re still getting their mortgages paid by their employers. Ain’t that right, Lincoln Riley?

But there does need to be some regulation. Less Wild West, more Midwest. Regulation is supposed to be the NCAA’s thing. Which explains why it hasn’t happened.

(And by the way, the NCAA is trying to crack down on big spenders. Good luck. That road got blown up last year, by Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who said, “The NCAA’s business model would be flatly illegal in almost any other industry in America.”)

Paying players a living wage is something that should have happened decades ago. Finding a fair and logical means of doing it should have been the goal.

Allowing players to transfer wherever they want is fair, if currently crazy. I think that over time, enough players will wash out and regret their choices to job-hop that the problem will solve itself.

And maybe at some point we should think about reeling in the ridiculous money being paid coaches. Or at least earmark some of that ridiculous money for other, more worthwhile university endeavors. Would it kill Nick Saban to make him pay $1 million a year into a scholarship fund so needy and capable students can get a college education at ‘Bama that doesn’t involve a playbook?

Now, then. . .

THE REDS QUEST (actually the quest I laid before them) to be better than the Pittsburgh Pirates gained no ground Monday night. The rampaging Redlegs won for the third time in four games, but the Battlin’ Buccos took it the Dodgers, so the spread is still 6.5 games.

Castillo was OK in his return. He had the cambio working. Minor will return soon, as will Senzel, India and Votto. Apparently. Keep your eyes on the prize, kids. The Reds can catch Pittsburgh. It’s all there, in front of them. When it happens, we could throw them a parade.

STICK TO SPORTS. . . Folks who have written books about their experiences in Trump’s White House deserve Trump’s universal description for anyone he doesn’t like:


Barr, Bolton, McCabe and now Mike Esper, one of Trump’s Secretaries of Defense.

While the bombshells Esper drops have a ring of authenticity – who doesn’t believe Trump was entirely capable of suggesting shooting protestors in the legs and launching missiles at Mexican drug cartels? – the fact Esper and the others said and did nothing publicly while any of this stuff was (allegedly) going on is a despicable and spineless cash grab.

Stand up to the guy when it matters, not when you feel the need to gossip for money.

Trump has denied most of Esper’s charges, in Trump’s own, inimitable way.

“Esper was a stiff who was desperate not to lose his job. He would do anything I wanted, that's why I called him "Yesper." He was a lightweight and figurehead, and I realized it very early on. He was recommended to me by some very weak RINOs and that is what he turned out to be. I had to run the military myself.’’

He ran the military himself. Of course he did.

TUNE O’ THE DAY. . . Some tune-age is so precious, I try only to play it at the appropriate moments, lest I ever grow weary of it. I feel that way about Jim Croce, say, and Van’s Live Astral Weeks. One album tops them all: Dickey Betts’ 1st album, Highway Call. My son and I break it out once a year, for four days, while we cruise the Blue Ridge Parkway. The music is great, but more, it fits the setting perfectly.

Here’s the lead tune from Highway Call.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: NCAA rules NIL: Rules for Name, Image and Likeness solutions