A year ago there was a silly conversation centered around whether or not South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney should sit out the 2013 college football season to focus on training for life in the NFL. It was ridiculous in concept because there really is no replacing college football in the fall for any potential NFL player thinking about the draft. But what if there was?
This week Northwestern football players organized to take the first steps forward in developing an official college pliers union. While paying players is not quite at the top of the budding organization’s agenda, it is common belief that if and when this union takes off that the idea of players receiving pay beyond typical scholarship values may not be too far down the road. If college football players are one day going to be paid for their services, then the number of underclassmen declaring for the NFL Draft before playing thorough all of their eligible years may start to decline. This is a trend the NFL will be paying close attention to moving forward.
As Mike Florio references on Pro Football Talk, Green Bay Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy believes a college players union could spark the NFL to kick the tires on the idea of a developmental league of their own.
“[T]he NCAA colleges have served as a great breeding ground for NFL teams over the years,” Murphy said in response to a fan question submitted to Packers.com. “If the college players unionize, there will be more pressure on the NFL to establish a developmental league.”
It makes sense. Players with plenty of talent are taking an early gamble on the NFL earlier and earlier, as shown by the rising number of players declaring for the NFL The rising numbers have been influenced by the recent collective bargaining agreement for the NFL players union and the league, which has made it more important for players to get their service time in the league started earlier in order to cash in on bigger paychecks later in their career.
Just how much the players union in college football would slow that trend down may remain to be seen. The splitting of money for college players is still a complicated issue with many questions to answer before becoming a reality. If the NFL formed a developmental league it would make a push to lure in some of the top players who would typically be laying in the college game.
If an NFL developmental league existed today, would players like Clowney have played in that instead of South Carolina in 2013?
How much would players in the developmental league be paid? What kind of exposure would it get compared to college football?
Would an NFL developmental league take place in the fall, and thus compete head-to-head with college football?
These are just a sampling of questions that would have to be debated and answered in time. It is an idea that should be a concern for fans of the college game, but this is not exactly a concern that will take place over night.