Wait, you mean to tell me there’s a college athlete who resides on the opposite end of the spectrum from the likes of Jadeveon Clowney?
The answer is ‘yes’, and his name is Kirk Cousins.
Unlike Clowney, Cousins wasn’t highly recruited out of high school. In fact, by his own recollection, Michigan State was Cousins’ only BCS offer — and that came one month prior to signing day. But Cousins has gone from from a two-star prospect to not only the face of his own program, but the face of the Big Ten student-athlete.
Over Denard Robinson of Michigan. Over Dan Persa of Northwestern.
So during the 2011 Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon, it was Cousins who represented the players. In his keynote speech, Cousins spoke about realizing dreams, responsibility and entitlement. If you have eight minutes, the video is well worth your time.
But here are a couple snippets on the entitlement some players have in today’s game:
“It’s here in this place of privilege where perhaps danger lies. I’ve been taught that human nature is such that the place of privilege most often and most naturally leads to a sense of entitlement; the notion that I deserve to be treated as special because I’m privileged. The truth is privilege should never lead to entitlement. I’ve been raised and taught to believe that privilege should lead to responsibility. In fact, it’s a greater responsibility.”
“I don’t believe it’s too farfetched to think that we, as college football players, can make a significant, positive difference in the youth culture of American simply by embracing the responsibilities that accompany this place of privilege. We can re-define what’s cool.”
“We can show that it’s more important to do what is right, rather than what feels right.”
Cousins is an idealist, to be sure. Like Clowney, Cousins is the exception to the rule, not the standard. But he is the standard to which players should strive to be. That’s why the Big Ten chose to have him speak on behalf of the players. While inspiring, Cousins’ comments validate what Jim Delany wants others to believe:
Athletes don’t need to be paid for playing.
But as long as Cousins’ own conference is distributing roughly $20 million annually to each of their 12 institutions, as long as the television network arms race reaches Cold War proportions, the more athletes will want to be paid. At the very least, they’ll want the full cost of attendance. Delany supports that idea tentatively.
Not every athlete sees the college football world like Cousins, the exception to the rule. Instead, they see it through dollar signs, just like conference commissioners and athletic directors.
Cousins ended his speech with “Go Green!”
Something tells me other athletes in attendance were thinking the same thing.