Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

29 Aug 2012

Should Running Backs Get to Turn Pro out of High School?

If running backs only have a limited lifespan, why should they have to spend three of those years not supporting their families? Robert Weintraub argues for the draft eligibility rule to be amended over at Slate.

Posted by: Robert Weintraub on 29 Aug 2012

131 comments, Last at 07 Sep 2012, 2:50pm by Intropy

Comments

1
by Aloysius Mephis... :: Wed, 08/29/2012 - 4:53pm

It's a nice idea. Running backs definitely get screwed most by the draft eligibility rule. But, creating an exception to the rule for running backs would be correctly viewed as a tacit acknowledgment that there's no moral justification for the draft eligibility rule for any position. The league and NCAA will never allow that.

4
by AnonymousA (not verified) :: Wed, 08/29/2012 - 5:19pm

Bingo. The NFL getting a minor league system would be a boon to the NFL, the players, and, in the long run, the universities, but it'll never happen because of short-sightedness and greed.

13
by Jerry :: Wed, 08/29/2012 - 6:33pm

The system as currently constructed works well for the NFL, who have a free minor league system that delivers well-known players to them, and for the colleges, who get a lot of revenue from football. The NCAA's not going to be willing to let any players escape their clutches, so even if you believe that running backs (or anyone else) should be able to enter the draft out of high school, the colleges will be an obstacle.

And in basketball, where players could be drafted out of high school, the NBA was willing to make players wait another year to be draft-eligible. Even one year in college provides a lot of information about playing at a higher level of competition.

51
by Tony D. (not verified) :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 10:03am

They already have a minor league system. It's called college football. And it's highly questionable if the sort of minor league system you're talking about could survive financially. And if it couldn't, that's not a boon to anybody.

57
by RickD :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 10:48am

Well, if the NCAA were shut down then a minor league system would definitely be able to survive.

Actually, I'd be content if the NCAA started paying their employees who help them rake in hundreds of millions of dollars.

127
by RC (not verified) :: Thu, 09/06/2012 - 1:08pm

The NCAA does pay their employees/athletes.

129
by dryheat :: Thu, 09/06/2012 - 1:44pm

No they don't. They offer something which has an indeterminite value for free which they charge most other students a hefty sum for. It's not the same as paying them.

Much like the way my boss, who also owns a small pizza restaurant, might offer me a free slice whenever I go in there. It's a nice perk, but if he said that pizza would be my sole form of compensation from now on, I'm getting a pretty bad deal.

A gym membership would be a better analogy, but I'm hungry.

130
by dryheat :: Thu, 09/06/2012 - 1:49pm

No they don't. They offer something which has an indeterminite value for free which they charge most other students a hefty sum for. It's not the same as paying them.

Much like the way my boss, who also owns a small pizza restaurant, might offer me a free slice whenever I go in there. It's a nice perk, but if he said that pizza would be my sole form of compensation from now on, I'm getting a pretty bad deal.

A gym membership would be a better analogy, but I'm hungry.

2
by Independent George :: Wed, 08/29/2012 - 4:59pm

I've always hated the 'three years out of HS' rule; there are likely good medical reasons for wanting players to be a little older, but in that case, it should be an age limit instead of the 'three year' rule. Let anyone who turns 20 before a fixed date each year be eligible.

6
by cisforcookie (not verified) :: Wed, 08/29/2012 - 5:34pm

if there are medical reasons, then teams won't draft those players or won't play them immediately if they do draft them. no nfl team is going to trot out a 170-180 lbs 18 year old, but with modern training methods there's no reason why a good prospect couldn't be nfl-ready and 200-215 lbs at 18 or 19. other than that, I can't imagine why it would be problematic. the nba and pro soccer are incredibly physical, and 18 year olds are (or were) commonplace in both.

11
by Jimmy :: Wed, 08/29/2012 - 6:09pm

The only way soccer is a physical game is if you count all the times that a player gets tapped on the ankle and throws himself to the ground holding his face as actual contact.

12
by Snack Flag (not verified) :: Wed, 08/29/2012 - 6:13pm

It's obvious that you've never played or watched competitive soccer. It's not American football, but it still has incredibly rigorous physical demands beyond running around for 90 minutes.

17
by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 08/29/2012 - 6:49pm

Really? If you watch the premiership, the European cup or any major tournament hen you'll see plenty of players who be have like they've been shot in the face when someone tugs their shirt. It is a result of the rules rewarding people for gaming the ref. in most other sports, American football, rugby, cricket, it would be suicide to look so soft as you'd encourage the opposition to beat the living tar out of you, not so for football, you get a free kick and retaliation is red card.

21
by BywaterBrat :: Wed, 08/29/2012 - 9:15pm

Professional soccer at the highest level, like with basketball and more recently football, is not as physical as at the lower levels. Admittedly flopping has gotten out of control (and is also why Messi is that much more respected, just search 'Messi never dives'). Still, here in Argentina, the third (and lower) division matches rarely pass without a disturbing knee/ankle injury or one good skull crack. Hell, even in my informal weekly men's league game never does a week pass without someone getting at least mildly injured. I think it's hard to understand how vulnerable those players are trying to control a ball with their feet.

The other big difference with soccer is that fouling someone is not that big of a deal and is frequently the smart play. I'm from a small town in New England where hockey is the major sport, and other than the enforcers, we all played soccer in the fall with the exact same mentality as if we were on the ice. Unofficial bounties and non-vicious kill shots were the norm- after all, if the guy has you by half a step or if you want to set the tone, you might as put an elbow on his chin or a knee to the kidneys because it's just a free kick as long as you go down too (in high school soccer in New England, goals are not scored on free kicks from 25 meters believe it or not, and they also don't toss out 16 year olds over 'boys being boys'), it's also strategic as it helps the defense get set.

Over less than 15 games a year we prolly had 2-3 season-ending lower leg injuries, 2-3 broken bones and 6 - 8 concussions (especially goalies). Those are pretty high figures from a percentage standpoint.

24
by Kal :: Wed, 08/29/2012 - 9:45pm

Yeah - I'm sure Ronaldo and Beckham and all those other ridiculously buff soccer players are just that way because of the photo shoots, and it has nothing to do with physical prowess.

31
by akn :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 3:34am

In addition, soccer players work almost exclusively on lower body strength and flexibility, which helps minimize the most common types of injuries they suffer. It's a lot harder to tear your MCL or ACL when you've got giant tree trunk-like quads stabilizing your knee. Football players, on the other hand, are more likely to suffer injuries all over the body (including concussions), making it more difficult to prepare for.

40
by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 8:25am

This argument has almost no merit at all. Have you ever seen Usain Bolt or Johan Blake, or any sprinter for that matter. They tend to be rather buff and their sport is entirely non contact.

To be clear, I'm English and so entirely familar with football, or soccer to you, at all levels of the game. It just isn't remotely as physical or as tough as american football and diving has become an increasingly irritaing problem. And as for the poster below who's league involved most players kicking hte crap out of each other, it really sounds like they need some much better refereeing.

59
by RickD :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 10:51am

I think the issue here is that people are using "physical" to mean different things.

Soccer is certainly physically demanding, but it's nowhere near as violent as American football.

32
by kamiyu206 :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 4:38am

Messi never dives......but he uses his hand to score.

41
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 8:40am

You're thinking of either Thierry Henry or Diego Maradona.

101
by kamiyu206 :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 7:11pm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPmCnjEVAf8

That guy looks like Lionel Messi to me.......

103
by Intropy :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 8:09pm

Which pixel was Messi?

105
by kamiyu206 :: Fri, 08/31/2012 - 3:52am

OK, I admit I couldn't see the clip because my office blocks YouTube. I just searched 'Messi Handball' then copy and paste the link.

If you want to know more about the incident, read this.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-1229167/Thierry-Henry-...

Kinda surprised some people don't know this incident, while they know Henry's. It was actually very important league match. (Barcelona & Real Madrid was neck and neck for the league title at that time)

109
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 08/31/2012 - 2:32pm

Henry's is known because it was the tiebreaker that put France into the World Cup over Ireland.

Maradona's is known because it won a World Cup -- and was the most effective thing Argentina did against England during the 80s.

Those handballs were important to entire nations. A league one just isn't.

121
by kamiyu206 :: Mon, 09/03/2012 - 5:29am

Fair enough. Still, Messi's one was very important, too and it shouldn't be forgotten just because Real Madrid won the race eventually. That's my point.

26
by Snack Flag (not verified) :: Wed, 08/29/2012 - 10:41pm

So quarterbacks and punters never fake going down to get a penalty? WRs never ham it up to fake pass interference? It's all gamesmanship. I wish it was in neither sport, but until refs are omnipresent and see every angle of a play, there's going to be some acting. I'm not indicating that soccer is more physical than football; that's impossible. But to act like it's not a physical sport is silly. Just watch two opposing players going after a ball, or a group of players jumping to get a their head on a ball off a corner kick. These guys aren't waifs - a lot of them are 6'3", over 200 lbs and strong in both their upper and lower body. They take a beating over the course of a game/season.

28
by Intropy :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 12:47am

Those are not mutually exclusive things. In fact, if soccer wasn't as physical as it is then all the stupid diving wouldn't exist. Diving only makes sense if there is reason to believe that maybe it was genuine. Without the existence of actual tackles those dives would be fake with 100% certainty and thus 100% ineffectual.

36
by Jimmy :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 8:08am

Wrong on all counts, try again.

3
by Dean :: Wed, 08/29/2012 - 5:00pm

How does one establish who counts as a "running back?" So many players are high school QBs reqcruited to colleges as "athletes" - who later become DBs, WRs, RBs, QBs, and whatever other position Coach thinks he'll best help his program. Even then, these same players frequently change position again from college to pro.

How on earth would you be able to accurately classify Devin Hester for ellibility?

5
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 08/29/2012 - 5:21pm

Or Tim Tebow.

50
by Bnonymous (not verified) :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 9:37am

Who?

100
by FrontRunningPhinsFan :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 4:33pm

Ha! I see what you did there!

Fire Jeff Ireland.

20
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Wed, 08/29/2012 - 8:50pm

Exactly why this could never work. Players' designated positions are not static. In essence you would be inviting every reasonably big/strong/fast HS athlete with NFL aspirations to switch to RB for their senior season and then get an NFL contract, only to switch to another position immediately.

I expect better from a FO writer, who should actually think his idea through and recognize the impracticalities and undesired outcomes instead of just identifying a "problem" and tossing out a "solution" like he's smarter than everyone else.

27
by Snack Flag (not verified) :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 12:38am

I don't think this is a new thing. Bill Barnwell made a career out of using specious facts, generating flawed "studies" and ignoring every argument that runs counter to his own. That being said, it's still one of the best football sites on the web, and at least they're asking interesting questions instead of discussing whether it's impressive that Tebow hit a garbage can from 25 yards out.

But you are correct. There's an argument to be made that HS players should jump directly to the pros, but it's not this one. Making exceptions doesn't solve the problem, it just creates new ones.

37
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 8:10am

Dare I say that Barnwell has gotten better since his move to Grantland?

39
by dryheat :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 8:12am

I don't know if there are many people here who would be in position to confirm or deny. I know I wouldn't.

70
by t.d. :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 11:12am

you can say it, doesn't make it true. I think Barnwell's biggest shortcoming related to handling criticism- he was an ass. He's circumvented that by not having a comment section on his Grantland articles. All well and good, but i personally think it diminishes him; he can dish criticism, but he can't take it

76
by Aloysius Mephis... :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 11:23am

I absolutely think he has gotten much better. Much less empty snark, many fewer obvious mistakes. I think his work is benefiting from a stronger editorial hand at Grantland.

84
by sundown (not verified) :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 12:18pm

I don't think there was any editorial hand when he wrote here. I don't mean that as a cutdown, just an observation that he had free hand to post anything he wanted and nobody ever stepped in to make him fix even obvious errors. He would post blatant, sloppy errors, they'd be pointed out within the first couple comments, yet they'd never be fixed. It hurt the credibility of the site and it was 100x worse when he'd decide to wade into the comments and snark it out with somebody when he was obviously wrong. His departure was a bright day for this site.

90
by Shattenjager :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 12:53pm

I find it very difficult to believe that there is any kind of "strong" editing at the site run by the sports world's current champion at puling about people daring to edit anything of his in any way. Bill Simmons once claimed that he had retired because ESPN cut like three minutes from the B.S. Report (and it was three minutes of absolutely worthless garbage, btw), and people think he's going to have a website with strong editing? Tony Korheiser also intimated that there wasn't much editing at Grantland when Simmons was trying to recruit him. I think it's likely that Barnwell is less edited at Grantland than he was at FO, and I really don't understand the thought that he's more edited.

I honestly never disliked Barnwell to begin with and I think a lot of the Barnwell hate around here was the same as the Dave Cameron hate at FanGraphs--the commentariat just decided it was "cool" to hate that guy, so they attacked him whether it was fair or not (though the Barnwell criticism was never as an insane as much of the Cameron criticism is).

I don't think he's really changed, but Grantland suits him better. Grantland has a sense of humor (a ridiculously misogynistic and homophobic sense of humor so juvenile that sophomoric would be a kind way to put it, but a sense of humor nonetheless), which is something that has largely waved goodbye on FO and is presumably going away even further with Tanier's departure. Grantland is aimed at a general audience, the type of people who judge players on Super Bowl rings, rather than the total football freaks who make up FO, which allows him to make his preferred sweeping general statements without being as concerned about details that don't fit (which sometimes matter and sometimes don't). There's also no one else there, really, to take away his top choice of what to write about at any given time, so he always gets to write whatever he wants.

He did make a major obvious mistake just recently that really bothered me. I love the Advanced Passing statistics on p-f-r. He tried to use them but claimed they were percentages (i.e., 125 means 25% better than league average), when they are not. P-f-r did something much smarter and used the scale for IQ, which is part of why I love those stats so much.

92
by Snack Flag (not verified) :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 1:48pm

I dislike Bill Barnwell's specifically because of your last paragraph, not because it's "cool." He plays dress up as a statistician and only has a cursory knowledge of the subject, yet he writes as if his work is infallible. It's as if he knows the words, but has no grasp of the concept behind them. I think his writing would be greatly improved if he did one of two things: (1) actually made an effort to understand statistics instead of reading an article from Baseball Prospectus and incorporating its terms into his own writing or (2) let someone else do the statistical heavy lifting and communicate the results, a la Joe Sheehan or Tanier.

Barnwell's work is further invalidated by his utter refusal to engage any argument that challenges his own. Instead of seeing that as an opportunity to strengthen and focus his work, he puts his hands over his ears and says "La la la, you're a dummy!" and avoids addressing any problems. He would never interact with the commenters with an open mind, nor would he discuss his work in a mature manner. He was always right, even when he was objectively wrong. He was a bully, and I think that's why the hate was ramped up on him.

He fits really well on Grantland, because that's the Bill Simmons and Malcom Gladwell approach to writing: start with a hypothesis, write 10,000 words about why it's correct, and ignore any/all counter-arguments to your premise. I think I would find them readable if they didn't come off as know-it-alls, but it's pretty insufferable as is to me.

93
by Shattenjager :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 2:08pm

"He fits really well on Grantland, because that's the Bill Simmons and Malcom Gladwell approach to writing: start with a hypothesis, write 10,000 words about why it's correct, and ignore any/all counter-arguments to your premise."

100% accurate. However, I expect that approach in all sportswriting, because that's what most of it is. I'm happy when I see people who don't write that way in sports, but I don't get wound up about people who do. (Side note: I personally think Malcolm Gladwell is one of the most dangerous people alive, because he insists on bringing the same approach to everything, not just places where it's nearly impossible to do any harm like sports, and people believe him. He's headed down the path to becoming the next Oprah Winfrey, who has probably done more harm to humanity than any other living person.)

I have to admit I rarely saw Barnwell involved in the comments, so I'm guessing he cut back on that before I started coming here, because plenty of people make the same comment.

Barnwell is a football writer for the general public who was miscast at a statistically-oriented, analytical website like FO. I don't particularly like his work, but it's just part of the wide range of background football noise to me, not something particularly hate-worthy.

106
by QCIC (not verified) :: Fri, 08/31/2012 - 12:17pm

Meh,

I have been here off and mostly on since 1994, and I found him vapid and abrasive. I didn't feel like the hate was at all just to "be cool" in the same way that say the Peter King hate is. I felt everyone gave Bill a pretty good shot at the beginning, but that he tried too hard to be snarky/funny all the time, and reacted very poorly to criticism when leveled. If you are going to wade in to the comments section as a site administrator using your authority as such to win arguments is extremely bad form.

I agree he works better on Grantland, and he clearly does get more editing there and that has helped.

Not sure what to say about the rest. I wasn't aware people hated Dave Cameron. He always seem pleasant to me.

And I agree about the value of the IQ system. Members of the top .01% unite!

107
by QCIC (not verified) :: Fri, 08/31/2012 - 12:20pm

Gah!

2004. Someone was speaking to me while I was typing and I used the word 19. :(

Stupid brain.

111
by Noah of Arkadia :: Sat, 09/01/2012 - 7:17pm

I liked Barnwell. Still do.

------
We posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

29
by Intropy :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 12:49am

That's easy. If it's a player you want, he's a running back. When you decide during training camp that he's better suited to play another position, that is merely by chance.

7
by sjt (not verified) :: Wed, 08/29/2012 - 5:41pm

Let's assume this rule gets put into place. What NFL team is going to take a risk on a high school player, knowing that they would have to invest time, a roster spot, and (probably) a draft pick on them? Especially when you can invest those same resources on a college player who has spent 3-4 years working out and playing and proving their talent at a higher level?

8
by MJK :: Wed, 08/29/2012 - 5:47pm

What NFL team is going to take a risk on a high school player, knowing that they would have to invest time, a roster spot, and (probably) a draft pick on them?

The Dolphins? (go Jeff Ireland!)

The Raiders? (Provided said guy is fast)

Didn't Maurice Clarette get drafted, after all?

18
by sjt (not verified) :: Wed, 08/29/2012 - 7:24pm

And I think that proves the point pretty well.

And yes, Clarett did get drafted. He didn't make it through training camp and never played a down (not even preseason) in the NFL.

42
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 8:43am

He didn't make it through training camp two years after he was drafted, during a time period in which both the NFL and the NCAA blacklisted him.

If ever there was a man with grounds for a lawsuit for illegal collusion between the NCAA and the NFL, it's him.

45
by dryheat :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 8:49am

It seems he tried the legal end-around, and it didn't work, although I forget the particulars.

You'd have to prove blacklisting by the NFL somehow. He was drafted, he sucked, and then got hurt, showed immaturity, and showed up out of shape and sucked again when given a second chance (note: my memory has often shown to work less that 100%, but that's roughly the pattern I remember).

More importantly, if he could help a team, he'd be playing. Note the oppositeness of Mike Williams.

48
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 8:57am

The 270-lb, former-Biletnikoff-at-USC, two-years-out-of-football, vagabond, whose entire career amounted to less than what Calvin Johnson did last year? Because that's the Mike Williams who was involved in the draft problem, not the guy currently at Tampa. That guy went to Syracuse.

Despite winning a federal case against the NFL, the NFL kept out Clarett and Williams -- both considered 1st (Williams) or 2nd (Clarett) round talents who had impressive freshman and sophomore college seasons. Both amounted to about nothing in he pros after being forced to sit out for a season, and being forbidden from practicing with their college teams.

Basically, they spent a season prevented from engaging in their trained profession as either an amateur or a professional. That's a hell of a labor racket.

55
by dryheat :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 10:34am

Damn it, my long brilliant response just disappeared. The basics:

1) Yes I have my Mike Williamses correct. One USC one, drafted top 10 by Millen, was able to come back and play, so I don't think it's accurate to say he was blackballed, just overrated like fellow Biletnikoff finalists and Millen top 10 draftees Roy Williams and Charles Rodgers. He had a couple of seasons, one very good, and might not be done yet.

2) Clarett knew what he was doing by hiring an agent. We can bust up the NCAA all we want, and I'm cool with that, but he intentionally burned that bridge on a low-percentage legal challenge. He wasn't going back to Ohio State.

3) Clarett could have played pro ball. There is minor league football leagues, arena ball, Canada. He chose to do none of that but sit and get fat...and maybe one better and get arrested. My mental timeline is foggy on the timing there.

4) Clarett had one great season on a National Championship squad that was loaded with talent. Isn't it possible he was highly overrated, and undeniable he was extremely immature, to be charitable (arrested and jailed for aggravated robbery, leading police on a chase, getting pulled over with an assault rifle and wearing body armor)? Shanahan over-drafted him and cut him. Clarett just wasn't that good. He got freakin' outrun by linemen at the combine!

I don't think he was blackballed. I think he, spurred by family, potential agents, hangers-on, and OSU fans, teammates, and coaches, had an inflated value of his abilities, and had the usual problems with entitlement for far too long. He was blackballed much like Lawrence Phillips was blackballed...after a while it becomes apparent that the talent doesn't justify the headaches.

63
by Thunderbolt of ... :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 11:00am

The primary knock on both Mike Williams (during his few years with the Lions) and Clarett (during his training camp with the Broncos) is that they were out of shape and unprepared for the speed of the NFL game. You don't think that problem was at least partially caused by those players being forced to spend a season (or two, for Clarett) without football, or even any kind of organized training or support system?

Clarett and Williams weren't blackballed by the NFL, but the argument that he could have played in the CFL or AFL doesn't hold much water. That's like telling someone who excelled at a prestigious law school that it doesn't matter that an arbitrary rule prohibits them from working as a lawyer, because they're still free to work as a janitor.

69
by sjt (not verified) :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 11:10am

You know who's likely to be out of shape and unprepared for the speed of the NFL game? An 18 year old high school star who's always been far and away the best athlete in on any field he's every set foot on.

72
by dryheat :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 11:14am

If this lawyer is debarred from his profession, he can either get another job which he is qualified to do, or do nothing. Intentionally flauting a rule, whether one thinks it arbitrary or not, generally has consequences.

Do I think the problem was at least partially caused by not being able to play NFL football? Minimally. I'm in pretty good shape even as I near 40, and I've never played a down in the NFL. It's not hard to stay in shape, and the fact that someone is planning on a football career for their livelihood can't stay in shape points more to a flaw in motivation and/or intelligence than anything else. I mean, using Arena Ball as an example, if your choices are to either play football and stay in shape -- even for lesser money -- until you can play in the NFL, or do absolutely nothing to prepare yourself for that goal, what's the smart play? Earn a few bucks playing football, hit the gym every day, and supplement your income as necessary. Don't sit around getting high, breaking into apartments, and playing Madden, or whatever alternative Clarett pursued instead.

The attorney who has a suspension should probably get a job as an accountant or whatever while keeping his skill set sharp instead of doing absolutely nothing because he feels the salary is beneath him.

116
by arias :: Mon, 09/03/2012 - 4:51am

Oh come on. That's a poor analogy. To make it even accurate you'd banish the lawyer to work as a paralegal. But that's imperfect too since there's a legitimate injury risk in playing in the CFL where there's no risk the future lawyer's going to hurt his brain doing paralegal work.

86
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 12:38pm

As much of a joke as he was in Dallas, Roy was pretty good on the Lions.

96
by tuluse :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 3:39pm

He has one career year over 900 yards receiving. He wasn't as good as you probably think he was.

99
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 4:06pm

It's more that I think those Lions were worse than you think they were.

Williams was a shining light of mediocrity in a sea of incompetence.

73
by sjt (not verified) :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 11:17am

Clarett didn't win his case, not ultimately. He won the initial lawsuit, but that result was overturned on appeal and the overturn was upheld by SCOTUS when they refused to hear the case.

There was nothing stopping either player from working out or playing football in preparation for the NFL. Williams actually did work out during his "missing season" and showed up to the combine in decent shape. He later dropped and ate his way out of the league.

And if one or two extra seasons of practice in college are so important to NFL success, how can a high schooler with zero years of college practice possibly succeed?

117
by arias :: Mon, 09/03/2012 - 4:57am

IIRC, Clarett winning that initial lawsuit was the entire reason Williams decided to forgo his final year and declare. Williams really got shafted in that respect since the NCAA wouldn't let him return after Clarett's case was overturned. Probably as a means to escape his bitter disappointment he responded by going on an eating spree. He never recovered.

So indirectly, Clarett kind of screwed it up for Williams.

71
by t.d. :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 11:13am

it was all about the grey goose

67
by sjt (not verified) :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 11:07am

He didn't make it through training camp two years after he was drafted, during a time period in which both the NFL and the NCAA blacklisted him.

Which again proves the gamble in betting on an untested or barely tested running back. Granted he was a head case which was one source of his ultimate demise, but if its head cases you want to avoid I wouldn't suggest hiring 18 year old athletic phenoms and giving them millions of dollars.

85
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 12:37pm

Williams and Clarett didn't fail because they were head cases. They failed because they weren't in football shape after 1-2 year layoffs.

88
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 12:41pm

If they hadn't been head cases, they might have stayed in better shape. Chicken and egg.

95
by sjt (not verified) :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 3:15pm

Clarett was definitely a head case, which is part of the reason why he didn't show up in shape. Nothing was stopping him from working out. Players miss seasons all the time and work out, stay in shape, and come back to be productive players. He was lazy and physically out of shape. He also got himself kicked out of school at which he was a god and is now in prison for some straight up crazy stuff. If he's not a head case I don't know who qualifies.

Williams was in shape. He spent what should have been his junior year working out, and at his pre draft pro day he was 230 lbs, ran a 4.5, and was impressive in the vertical and broad jump. And then the reality that he was a bit too slow and a bit too lazy to be a top NFL receiver took over. You can't blame his failure to produce, despite the fact that he got chance to play with 4 different teams, on missing one additional season of college practice time.

112
by Lance :: Sun, 09/02/2012 - 11:17am

He could have played JuCo or NAIA. Not quite the same talent level, but he'd have been able to work out, get coached, and get his conditioning in.

I don't care one way or the other, but it seems likely that he'd could have done something.

10
by Thunderbolt of ... :: Wed, 08/29/2012 - 6:05pm

If I were a NFL team, I'd much rather take a chance on college-freshman-Marcus Lattimore than half the RBs who go in a given NFL draft. Some kids are just freaks.

19
by sjt (not verified) :: Wed, 08/29/2012 - 7:26pm

So according to you the #1 overall rated high school running back of his year would be about as appealing as the average drafted running back coming out of college.

23
by Scott C :: Wed, 08/29/2012 - 9:31pm

Median.

68
by sjt (not verified) :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 11:08am

Right. My mistake, and a bad one at that.

74
by Thunderbolt of ... :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 11:18am

Sure, why not? Let's look the 5-star high school RBs from 2002 to 2010 (so that they have played at least two years in college) according to rivals.com:

2002: Ciatrick Fason, Gerald Riggs, Jerious Norwood
2003: Reggie Bush, Kregg Lumpkin, Demetris Summers
2004: Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch
2005: Jonathan Stewart, Marlon Lucky, Jason Gwaltney, Kevin Grady
2006: Beanie Wells, Stafon Johnson, James Aldridge
2007: Joe McKnight, Marc Tyler
2008: Darrell Scott, Jermie Calhoun
2009: Bryce Brown, Trent Richardson, Christine Michael
2010: Marcus Lattimore, Michael Dyer, Lache Seastrunk

Sure, you have your busts, but among 25 players you also have Reggie Bush, Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch, Jonathan Stewart, Beanie Wells, and Trent Richardson - all of whom are anywhere from solid starters to stars (or, in the case of Richardson, expected to be so).

Meanwhile, from 2002 to 2010, there were 29 RBs selected in the 4th round of the draft (i.e., in the middle round): http://pfref.com/tiny/a3ADU. Of those players, only Domanick Williams, Darren Sproles, Brandon Jacobs, Marion Barber, and Michael Bush have given their teams starter-quality production, and none of those guys has had the star power of the five-stars mentioned in the previous paragraph. And the fourth-rounders had plenty of washouts as well - only 14 of the 29 players started more than four games, and only 6 started more than 16 games.

So yes, I'd certainly take my chances with a highly-ranked HS RB than a median RB in the NFL draft.

79
by dryheat :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 11:38am

Where would you draft them, or how much would you sign them for, and what would you do with them until they are good enough to put on the field? Or do you think an 18 year old Reggie Bush or Marshawn Lynch were capable of playing NFL running back, coming out of high school schemes where they could get by on superior athleticism? Or would it be like the NHL, where players are indeed drafted young, and THEN go to Junior Hockey or the NCAA? But unless NCAA starts allowing players to be paid, that doesn't change the issue. Adrian Peterson would not be a star without his years playing at Oklahoma. You can't replicate that level of competition and experience in practice.

And Marion Barber and Darren Sproles have had better careers than anybody in that first paragraph outside of Peterson.

97
by sjt (not verified) :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 3:42pm

And yet, when given the chance to draft those very same 5 star running backs a few years later, a lot of times NFL teams decided to pass. Instead they often choose guys who were "only" 4, 3 and even 2 "star" recruits coming out of high school but who have been through the crucible of college football for a few years.

104
by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 8:26pm

This would be a fabulous system for the NFL teams. But even for the players who made it, it'd be a disaster.

Let's use Trent Richardson as our example. He goes to Alabama, excels, and goes high in the draft with a nice big guaranteed contract. But he wouldn't have been a first round pick coming out of high school, probably third or fourth round at best. He signs for a whole lot less money. His big payday now gets pushed back to when his rookie contract is over. Even if he turns out to be the same player he is today, there's no love affair with the college kid who dominated, no highlight tapes, no limitless potential. His team would have had time to diagnose and dwell on all his faults. Unless he turns all the way into a superstar, he probably gets shorted on his second contract, as well.

118
by arias :: Mon, 09/03/2012 - 5:02am

Yeah but some kids would trade those college glory years for the income from that second contract that would set them and their families up for life. Actually I think most kids would if it were an either/or proposition.

9
by Aloysius Mephis... :: Wed, 08/29/2012 - 5:51pm

This reminds me of an old Dr. Z quote:

"Here's the deal on Fast Willie Parker, the third stringer who ran for 161 yards against Tennessee. In his senior year at North Carolina, he rode the bench. 'I really didn't take any hits in college, so my career's just beginning' he said. Which reminds me of something Tom Keating once told me when he was playing for the Steelers and Tony Dorsett was a rookie, I mean a freshman, at Pitt. 'They've got a kid here who's a freshman who could play in the NFL right now. If I were him, I'd go hide in a cave for three years and save my legs.'"

14
by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 08/29/2012 - 6:37pm

Carry limits for high school and college football? Would that be totally unfeasible?

15
by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 08/29/2012 - 6:37pm

Carry limits for high school and college football? Would that be totally unfeasible?

43
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 8:45am

How strongly do you want to pretend that the NCAA cares about non-professional track athletes?

If you vote "strongly", then no, you cannot support carry limits for HS and college runners.

If you vote "not at all", the NCAA has a man in a suit in that alley over there who wants to talk to you.

49
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 9:33am

You'd get a kid suing because the rules prevent him from showcasing himself to his maximum potential. The ability to be a "workhorse" is something that many draft hopefuls would like to be able to show off. Certain running backs (think Ron Dayne) have made a much bigger name for themselves, and gotten drafted much higher than they otherwise would have, through racking up counting stats.

61
by RickD :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 10:58am

I cannot imagine such a lawsuit having a chance in hell of getting anywhere.

The NCAA already controls all sorts of aspects of the lives of "student-athletes". Limiting the number of carries would appear to obviously fall under their jurisdiction.

81
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 12:02pm

Not saying it would succeed, only that someone would complain and ultimately try to sue.

Also, more to the point, putting a limit on the number of carries is no more fair than imposing an age restriction on entering the draft. It's an artificially imposed limitation on a player's ability to play to his maximum potential.

119
by arias :: Mon, 09/03/2012 - 5:06am

Well isn't requiring 3 years of college ball also potentially an "artificially imposed limitation on a player's ability to play to his maximum potential"?

16
by Danny Tuccitto :: Wed, 08/29/2012 - 6:45pm

If they do this for RBs, they should do it for MLBs too.

30
by Intropy :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 12:58am

Also, for every other position.

113
by jebmak :: Sun, 09/02/2012 - 12:09pm

+1

115
by Lance :: Sun, 09/02/2012 - 1:07pm

I don't get the correlation. So Ray Lewis is freakish in that he's been able to play so well so late into his 30's. How does that relate to 18-year olds?

125
by Danny Tuccitto :: Tue, 09/04/2012 - 2:34pm

The point of the article I linked to is that MLBs have similarly short NFL lifespans as RBs. The point of Rob's piece is that the short NFL lifespan of RBs makes draft eligibility at 18 years old a potentially good idea. The argument I'm making is that, if both have short lifespans, then what's potentially good for RBs is potentially good for MLBs.

22
by Scott C :: Wed, 08/29/2012 - 9:30pm

What? High School RB's are not yet big enough or fast enough. Most gain quite a bit of speed and size in the first 2 years in college. Maybe every now and then one comes along that is full size at 18, but 95% of the time this is a poor proposition. No NFL team is going to keep a 18 year old RB on the practice squad waiting to see if they bulk up to NFL size fast enough.

25
by Kal :: Wed, 08/29/2012 - 9:48pm

Most, but not all. Some start as a freshman in college without any issue. Some gain some mass but most of it is done in that first redshirt year when they get trainers and meal planning and whatnot.

But really, the question isn't whether or not kids would be good; the question is whether or not the kids should be allowed to.

Though a better question is whether or not the game is reasonable given that we're talking about how kids should come out at 18 so they have a few more years to play as pro before their bodies are irrevocably crippled and they have to live their life in pain.

62
by RickD :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 10:59am

RBs who are not big enough, strong enough, or fast enough would simply be ignored.

The argument here is that younger RBs should have access to the market, not that they would necessarily be viewed as highly by the market.

33
by Willsy :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 6:06am

In Rugby League and Rugby Union if you are good enough you are old enough. And I don't want any rubbish that Rugby League isn't as tough as the NFL etc. The game is brutal.
Lots of kids can make it and they earn a nice living out of school.
The whole college thing is a stinking pile of hypocrisy. I have often wondered if a kid really pushed the system could they get the rules changed? Hmmmm, 2.5MN with the Raiders (with Raider Joe as a fan) versus playing for Washington State for free, what would I want to do?

They should be allowed to pick for themselves.

44
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 8:47am

Rugby is as mean. Lacrosse is too. But the only sports I'd put up for brutality against football are either TKO-based fighting sports, and ice hockey. The speed and direct violence of those is just so high.

47
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 8:54am

"I have often wondered if a kid really pushed the system could they get the rules changed?"

Not very likely. Maurice Clarett challenged the NFL age rules in court and eventually lost. Clarett was literally the poster child of who the age rules hurt. He absolutely would have been drafted (maybe not in the first round, but drafted) if he had been allowed to enter the draft after his freshman year. Moreover, he had also been kicked off his college team during the offseason, making it no longer a simple matter for him to go back to playing college football at the D1 level. It's hard to imagine a player with a more compelling case than Clarett had, and again, he lost.

65
by RickD :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 11:01am

Well, that might be construed as one attempt to "get the rules changed." But it certainly is far from the only possible way.

83
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 12:06pm

Off the top of my head, litigation is the only mechanism I can think of for an individual player to get an NCAA or NFL rule changed, in a manner timely enough to do him any good.

91
by Intropy :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 1:11pm

They could make a convincing argument and actually turn the opinion of the people with authority of the rules. It's not likely, but it's a mechanism. You could also convince the legislature to pass laws in your favor.

94
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 3:11pm

Those things have no chance of success. None. Zero.

87
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 12:41pm

Indeed. The more interesting possibility lies in suing the NCAA, which isn't protected by collective bargaining provisions like the NFL is.

34
by Basilicus :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 7:20am

So we're over accepting players out of high school having diluted the quality of the NBA? Because that was the overwhelming argument for many, many years.

35
by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 8:07am

Not necessarily. People aren't talking about it because this discussion is about what's good for the players, not what's good for the league or the fans.

Obviously both the NFL and NCAA benefit tremendously from the current system- the NFL gets a free developmental league and the NCAA gets a virtual monopoly on athletes for 3 years (also for free). The fans also benefit- they get higher quality college ball and higher quality pro ball than they would otherwise. That's just not the point of this conversation.

46
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 8:50am

Stupid GMs diluted the quality of the NBA.

(Because you could blame poorly selected Euro players and Duke draft picks for the NBA dilution, as well, but the five guys who were most discussed in the NBA in the last three months or so {Lebron, Durant, Howard, Gasol, Bryant} spent a combined one season in college.)

78
by t.d. :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 11:29am

i think that the nba age limit more likely prevented guys like korleone young from ever being drafted, because there was greater sample size of that type player not excelling against tougher competition, which is indication that the gms in general were ok when they had enough information. The problem gms had in the '90s was that they had no frame of reference other than body type to judge the hs guys declaring for the draft. Now, at least, they can see how these guys respond to coaching (and adapting to anew system in a more professional environment)

66
by RickD :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 11:06am

Most of the best players in the NBA today did not play four years of college. LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett all went straight to the NBA from high school. John Calipari currently runs a program at UK that consists of a revolving door exploiting the non-eligibility of players who would otherwise be drafted.

This rule is just another unnatural restraint of trade put in place to prop up the ongoing embarrassment that is NCAA basketball. In the current state of affairs, it's usually the case that the best freshmen are far better players than the best seniors.

75
by dryheat :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 11:20am

And likewise, the top of the NFL draft is full of juniors and redshirt sophomores. Most top NFL talent doesn't stay for four years when they can be getting paid. But a 21 year old with three years against viable competition and a weight and nutrition program is a long way from a high school graduate.

80
by sundown (not verified) :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 11:43am

Exactly. They leave early because they've made it clear they are stars ready for the next level. The article puts the cart before the horse and assumes these same guys would get big contracts straight out of high school...except they were just another prospect coming out of high school. No GM is going to use a high draft pick on anything that uncertain.

From 2002 through 2010, Rivals and Scout agreed on 27 5-star running backs. There were even more that earned 5-star ratings from just one of them...Scout gave 49 5-stars in that span. No way do all those kids go high in the NFL draft and live the good life. NFL contracts are not guaranteed, so even if a kid were drafted straight out of high school, if he didn't immediately pan out, he'd be cut and his big contract would be no more. Other than a few superstars who'd end up being stars regardless, I see no way how this system would help kids. It would just make a bunch bypass college, which is the best deal most will ever see, even if they don't realize it.

98
by tuluse :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 3:45pm

No it was a rule put in place because NBA GMs are awful and Stern has to constantly make new rules to keep them from doing stupid things. The one year rule was put in place because it helps the NBA and that is the only reason.

38
by dryheat :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 8:10am

One argument I haven't seen yet is that of the NFLPA. For every HS kid who makes a roster, one vet loses a job. I'm sure the NFLPA is as against this as the NFL and the NCAA.

I also don't buy the argument that an HS grad is ready for the NFL. Their bodies aren't finished filling out and while maybe a WR is big and fast enough to get drafted by the NFL, one hit by a Brandon Spikes or Patrick Willis could cause some serious damage, even the odds of death would likely be increased. I don't think one can overstate the physical change of a man's body between 18 and 20. And I haven't even touched on the concussion issue, which there is some evidence (certainly not a sure thing) that they do more damage to a younger brain.

Could a HS player succeed in the NFL? I guess it's possible, but why change a rule to accomodate such a tiny percentage when it will almost certainly be a detriment to the vast majority. Once that first signing bonus comes in, no more college eligibility, and the accompanying free college education, that will allow all these kids to get a job when their NFL dreams get dashed.

Oh yeah, and isn't the whole premise a fallacy to begin with? If the average career for an NFL RB is 2.8 years, or whatever is claimed in the article,there is no reason to think that starting at an earlier age is going to make the career longer. There are still the career-ending injuries and RBs trying to take your job every year. A three year vet can be as washed up at 21 as he is at 25. A running back who had a three year career didn't retire because he was healthy and productive. He was either hurt or someone better came along. Youth doesn't prevent those things.

53
by apbadogs :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 10:11am

I agree. I think it would be very possible that one of these 18 year olds would be killed on an NFL field. Look at Mendenhall, a fully formed college star getting lambasted by Ray Lewis his rookie year, busted him to pieces. There might be the once in a generation kid that could hang but for the most part these kids would be completely overmatched, and I would venture to guess, scared shitless to step on an NFL field.

56
by Podge (not verified) :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 10:46am

The premise isn't a fallacy. The premise is that a 3 year vet is actually more like a 6 or 7 year vet, because he takes 3 or 4 years of pounding at college. I don't think its single career ending injuries that stop a veteran running back, its more that the continual pounding catches up with them.

Average career length stats are skewed, because there's far more people with a 1 to 3 year careers (for example, UDFAs who don't make it out of training camp, or low picks who don't ever really contribute before being replaced) to people with 10-15 year careers. But assuming that a running back is no less likely to make a team after being an UDFA than any other position (which I think is a fair assumption, especially given how often you see UDFA RBs make it in the league), I think its fairly compelling that the running back career is .5 year shorter than other positions.

60
by dryheat :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 10:55am

Well, there's probably not a huge percentage of NFL-caliber players who take 3-4 years of pounding in college, but I understand the point clearly enough.

Regarding your last sentence, I don't think it's compelling at all, other than the nature of the position. I think it's shorter because it's the one position where the player is usually at his peak on his first contract. Other positions get better with age/experience and peak in their mid-to-late 20s. Every year there are dozens of RBs coming out of college that can do the job for rookie salaries. That's just the economics in a salary-capped world.

120
by arias :: Mon, 09/03/2012 - 5:27am

There is something to be said though about running backs taking far more punishment than any other position that correlates to how many times per game they carry the ball. And it's true that even the best NFL running backs have spoken about hitting a wall after taking so much punishment where they're just done after that. Look at Eric Dickerson after playing with the when he tried to play with the Raiders. Or Ricky Williams after his 1800 yard season with the Dolphins where he literally carried that team on his back and took the gruesome punishment to boot.

They're at the peak during the first contract BECAUSE of how lopsided the physical punishment is on running backs compared to any other position.

102
by Xao :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 7:59pm

Roster flux shouldn't really be an issue for the NFLPA in this scenario. You have seven rounds and thirty-two teams in the draft either way so the influx of bodies via the draft remains the same. The squeezing issue is actually on the other side of the draft with NCAA players going undrafted in favor of high school players.

Now, it's possible that undrafted collegians could grab roster spots from NFL veterans, but if you're getting unseated by an undrafted player, odd are that your career was doomed anyways.

52
by Podge (not verified) :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 10:03am

RBs in the Rivals top 100s from 2003 to 2008 are listed below. From the lists you'll see usually a couple of guys who are good NFL players (e.g. for 2003 Reggie Bush and MJD), a couple of guys you've heard of getting drafted and sticking around a little while (e.g. Kregg Lumpkin) and a whole lot of nothing. Now I would like to assume that pro scouting is going to be better, but then you'll also see a lot of names of people who were drafted and terrible.

I get the argument, I just don't think it would even work on a practical level. It says its fairer that Trent Richardson should get paid to take his lumps while he's a pro from age 18, but I would take a wild guess that whatever he earns as a draft pick now will be way more than he'd earn through his career as a draft pick straight out of high school

2003: Reggie Bush, Kregg Lumpkin, Demetris Summers, Alley Broussard, Tyrone Moss, Darrell Blackman, Maurice (I assume Jones-)Drew, Rashaun Grant, Emeka Nnoli

2004: Adrian Peterson, Marshawn Lynch, Bobby Washington, Thomas Brown, Charlie Jones, Dwayne Jones, DJ Wolfe, Jamaal Edwards, Tony Temple, Andrew Johnson, Webster Patrick

2005: Jonathan Stewart, Marlon Lucky, Jason Gwaltney, Kevin Grady, Antone Smith, Toney Baker, James Davis, Jamaal Charles, LaMarcus Coker, Roy Upchurch, Rashard Mendenhall, Kalvin Bailey

2006: Chris (Beanie) Wells, CJ Spiller, Stafon Johnson, James Aldridge, Michael Goodson, DeMarco Murray, Carlos Brown, Ben Tate, LeSean McCoy, Charles Scott, Vondrell McGee, Emmanuel Moody, Knowshon Moreno, Terry Grant, Kylan Robinson

2007: Joe McKnight, Noel Devine, Marc Tyler, Enrique Davis, John Clay, Brandon Sasine, Armando Allen, Lennon Creer, Robert Hughes, Caleb King, Raymond Carter, Chris Rainey, Jahvid Best

2008: Darrell Scott, Jermie Calhoun, Ryan Williams, DeSean Hales, Jonas Gray, Cyrus Gray, Ryan Bass, De'Anthony Curtis

54
by apbadogs :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 10:13am

Being on the Rivals Top 100 list in no way means they could've went to the NFL...MJD, Bush, whoever.

58
by Podge (not verified) :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 10:48am

No, but its an indication of who were perceived to be the top rated high school players.

64
by Tony D. (not verified) :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 11:00am

What I take out of those lists is that even if the NFL was allowed to draft high school players, they still might not do so, or at least not very often. It's a crapshoot drafting college players who are mature and have played other top-level talent. Using draft picks on high schoolers would be even riskier.

What I could see happening is teams using late-round picks on prospects with the express intent of sticking them on the practice squad for a couple years. But the argument in the article was to help these kids out by getting them to the NFL early, and the practice squad route would end up with them getting paid peanuts, likely still not making it, plus failing to have a shot at a free college education. It'd be far worse than what goes on now.

81
by sundown (not verified) :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 12:02pm

Totally agree. The article is naive in that it thinks it is presenting a way to help kids, but it's really setting the table for them being left in even worse shape. This isn't the NBA where contracts are guaranteed, the NFL cuts guys who don't pan out. Running backs in general aren't seeing the huge contracts these days...and that's the guys who have proven to be stars in the NFL. They're not going to risk tons of money on high school kids who will almost certainly not make it.

And there are comments in here about how great it would be if there was a development league. Has anybody looked at what life is like for minor league baseball players and NBA d-leaguers? They make poverty level wages chasing the dream. At least going to play in college involves a scholarship. They may choose to waste that opportunity, but it beats anything the minor leagues offer to the guys that never make it to the big show.

108
by QCIC (not verified) :: Fri, 08/31/2012 - 12:26pm

TO be honest a fair number of those guys are not doing anything better with their lives anyway. Its not like if they quit the D league they would become chemical engineers.

122
by arias :: Mon, 09/03/2012 - 5:33am

No. But they'll at least be in a an environment that will will provide them options and force them to think about their futures should the NFL not come calling or work out. Even if only a small number of them end up taking advantage of their education then that's still better than the alternative.

110
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 08/31/2012 - 2:36pm

There are plenty of career minor league baseball and hockey players who joined out of high school.

123
by arias :: Mon, 09/03/2012 - 5:34am

The equivalent of minor league baseball and hockey though is college football.

126
by Intropy :: Tue, 09/04/2012 - 5:17pm

You can make a career out of playing minor league sports. You cannot make a career out of playing college football.

128
by RC (not verified) :: Thu, 09/06/2012 - 1:42pm

Tell that to anyone who got a degree playing college football.

They generally make more money than anyone playing minor league baseball.

131
by Intropy :: Fri, 09/07/2012 - 2:50pm

Very well. Present me with someone who got a degree playing college football and I will inform him that he cannot make a career out of playing college football. Presumably he'll already be aware of that fact considering his familiarity with the topic, but I guess that's just a risk we'll have to take.

77
by Dan in Philly (not verified) :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 11:28am

One of those ideas which sound provocative and interesting but falls apart under further examination. Some of the problems:
1) Why only Runningbacks? Why not DBs? Why not WRs? Why not everyone? Open that door and you'll find it impossible to close.
2) The most physical conference in football is the SEC, and there are very few RBs who make a big impact as freshmen, they need to get stronger and bulkier before they can go out and play - multiply that by 10 and that's what would happen if 18 year old kids went against man-eating DL-ers who had strength trained from age 18 to 25.
3) For better or worse, college football is among other things the minor leagues of the NFL. If players could go straight to the NFL, it would probably mean the end of that system, and might end up with rules like allowing NFL teams to draft a player under 21 and put him on the practice squad for up to 3 years before his eligibility even started, with no chance of another team claiming him. This might end up being a better system both for the pros and for college, but don't pretend it won't happen for better or worse, it's a debate which needs to be had on its own merits and not snuck in under the cover of a "these poor kids trying to feed their families" argument.

Advocates for exceptions to the 3 years of college rules are either willfully ignorant of the consequenses of such actions, or they are deceiving about their true intentions.

89
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 08/30/2012 - 12:49pm

Lattimore and Dyer were premier backs as freshmen. The typical SEC RB peaks as a sophomore.

114
by jebmak :: Sun, 09/02/2012 - 12:24pm

My true intentions are f'ing over the college football system, because I think that it is stupid and unfair.

124
by arias :: Mon, 09/03/2012 - 5:44am

Maybe not straight out of high school but maybe shaving a year or two off the eligibility requirements could restore some equity to the most talented from having to forfeit future income.

Because if it's straight out of high school you have to ask what is the cost of allowing the elite a shot at making more? At the cost of kids never being drafted after declaring early that could have had a shot had they gone to college, not to mention an education?

It's not worth it. If you shave a year or two off their requirements that would seem like a reasonable compromise that could offer the best of all worlds.