Last Christmas Eve, I was at the same place I'd been the last four Christmas Eves: The OK Cafe. Destination Marion, Ohio, "the Doke" which is one of America's premiere watering holes. (It's also probably the only cafe in the world which serves Bud Ice bottles.) Remember now, this was 2011, so don't judge me when I say this story begins with me on the patio of the OK Cafe, smoking a Newport. (2011's were just way different back then, tobacco use was cool. You kids today wouldn't understand, especially with your androgynous phones these days and all.)
There I was, smoking with a friend and thinking about how blessed I was to be associated with the City of Kings -- when a mystical long-haired cat strolled up to my friend and I. It looked rather mangy and was certainly cold and hungry, but I have always adored felines, so I was more than welcome to offer it a hit of my 'Port, which the cat, much to my surprise, declined.
I could tell the cat was more-than-likely homeless, and my heart broke into a thousand pieces as I had to shut the door behind me as I walked back into the dimly lit bar. "Damn," I lamented when I was back over my Jack-on-the-rocks. "I should have taken that cat. It was a beast."
Twenty minutes later, and the throes of petty nicotine addictions forced my friend and I back into the elements. There, the cat came trotting back up to me, as if it had been waiting for me its entire life. After inspecting the wild beast and determining it had a fresh laceration on its chest, an upper repertory infection and was probably in the streets... I decided my shanty in Columbus needed the vigilance only a well-trained feline can bring.
While other masters put robes of bread on their cats, I have always had a much more disciplined approach. Not to boast, but I have churned out my fair share of gato assassins. After months of round-the-clock training in my fabled feline dojo, "The Starcat" as the other elders have dubbed her, had finally learned Mandarin. Since then, The Starcat has solved many life problems of mine since she sauntered into my life ... most recently allowing me to make eye contact with a (human) girl (in real life). After that five second interval (and before my brain fired its awkward juices and paralyzed me for the next 20 minutes), I realized the Starcat's problem-solving prowess.
My next question was the same any man would have asked in my shoes then, "Does the Starcat hold a solution to college athletics reform?"
"What am I doing, Starcat? Am I not simply projecting my cat-laden fantasies onto an article penned by EDSBS.com's Spencer Hall on Monday?"
Don't be hard on yourself, DJ. It would probably surprise a lot of people to realize you were thinking this far in advance, but I supplanted the idea for this column into your mind during your weekly shower last Friday. Besides, weren't you resurrecting President Harding last fall before President Jackson threw in his two cents? Though, the man does have superior photoship skills to you. Where does he find the time if I'm to believe he takes at least seven showers a week? Who has that kind of time?
"Careful, Starcat. The slightest mention of the 29th and Most Hated On President of the United States could send me on a tangent and derail this entire operation."
*Starcat nods sagely without looking up from her iPad.*
"Starcat, some commenters on this website are sick of my poorly written rants against the NCAA power-structure. 'Well, what are the solutions?' some of them ask. I know there is a solution in here which can work for everybody. Enlighten me."
Humans go to college to learn things, because unlike us cats, they are born without knowledge of the inner-workings of our galaxies. Since colleges seem so willing to pimp their football teams of 18-22 year olds in the name of profit, they should be allowed to set up football academies for 14-18 year old athletes.
In some parts of the world, 7-year olds are signed by professional clubs and relocated (with their family) to the opposite hemisphere. I doubt America is ready for this, but surely there would be enough talented football prospects in just central Ohio alone to supply enough bodies for Ohio State's fictional high school/football academy. And since Ohio State is a self-proclaimed institution of higher learning, wouldn't the appointed staff at this fictional academy be vastly superior the education a lot of these kids are getting anyway? (Your public school system is in shambles, after all.)
These academies would offer a much more structured environment. They would go to school for half the day and then train the other half. Instead of pristine human specimens like Terrelle Pryor shitting on inferiorly talented kids for four years, an academy structure would allow him to be surrounded by talented equals.
It would also allow prospects the coaching they need to be successful at the next level. Imagine if Terrelle Pryor had Archie Manning for his dad and wasn't the sun of a football galaxy in shitty western Pennsylvania, he might have understood the need to be able to read defenses before he ended up as a 3rd string quarterback in a talent abyss like Oakland. Swollen egos and sports will always go hand in hand, but education is the best anecdote for the swollen head. Mention this solution anytime a human rants against "the entitlement" of today's athletes.
"Starcat, I want the players paid. Damnit, they are simply modern day gladiators doing unknown damage to their body for our sheer entertainment because we all lead empty, shallow lives."
There you go again, DJ, projecting yourself onto society as a whole. Yet, you are right, your human doctors are only starting to grasp the incalculable bodily damage done on even a routine play. It's as your former roommate in Montana told you a day after a game in which he played 20 plays and could hardly walk, "It may look like a routine play, but yo, that's still a 300 lbs. dude falling on my ass."
College degrees in the 21st century become more worthless by the day, and it's especially perturbing since a lot of institutions will lower their admissions standards if the applicant is really fast or can jump really high. Not everyone is cut out for academic success, as you're certainly aware of, so players should certainly have the option to take whatever the cash-value of their said scholarship is said to be.
On top of that, why shouldn't student athletes be allowed to retain agents? Allow them to retain business professionals, and allow student-athletes to market themselves considering how fleeting some of their successes will be. By the way, what is wrong with taking money from a man in exchange for signing your signature on a football, especially when they were the ones who made that signature worth anything in the first place? (Remember, it was Terrelle Pryor's hard-work which allowed him to chose Ohio State, not the other way around.) As for jersey sales, players should definitely get residuals on those.
"What's your take on the Danny O'Brien situation with Maryland?"
Pathetic. I agreed with your take last week (coicidentally because I wrote it). If these big-named institutions are against guaranteed, four-year scholarship offers, then student-athletes should be allowed to leave (or re-sign) without any penalty on their eligibility. It's not as if transferring colleges is an easy task, something you could also attest to. Conversely, schools could decline to resign a player, giving elite college coaches their desired roster flexibility. This way, the sword cuts both ways.
*shows a video of sad Stephon Diggs watching Jordan Hall score touchdowns from his dorm-room in Maryland* He will agree with this all very soon.
"Just so we're clear, there are going to be people who disagree with you simply because you can't speak English. And you're a cat."
That's fine. The Illuminati would prefer it that way. *sips tea*
They're coming, just hold your horses. These are large, multi-billion dollar institutions. I'm sure their apology letter to the 25-year old internet blogger regarding their lack of haste got lost in the mail. They will first come in the form of a four-team play-off. You will probably be dead by the time the field is expanded to six in 2025. (Not that you would want to know, but it's going to be a giant horde of wasps which run you down in Guatemala and sting you to death.)
"Wasps! They got Whitney and now they're coming after me! Damn them! Quickly and lastly, a question that has been tormenting my soul since I was accused of being a fake Buckeye last week: Am I an Ohio State fan? Do I hate Ohio State? Show me what is in my soul, Starcat!!!"
*walks away, hops into the window sill and falls asleep instantly on her pillow; thus ending the interview*