Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

20 May 2014

How Much College Quarterbacks Are Worth

538 creates a system with college QBR to project how much college quarterbacks were actually worth to their schools.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 20 May 2014

10 comments, Last at 11 Jul 2014, 11:48pm by mstef8


by BDC :: Tue, 05/20/2014 - 3:35pm

Maybe I missed the point of the article, but it isn't complicated at all to determine how much these guys are worth. Let the schools bid for their services on the open market exactly like they do for everyone else working for the school and we'll figure it out real quick.

by Omroth :: Wed, 05/21/2014 - 7:34am

(Says something isn't complicated)

(Suggests something unbelievably complicated)

by BDC :: Wed, 05/21/2014 - 6:32pm

Um, hiring people isn't that complicated. Literally every single person who is working is hired.....

by Anonymous Jones :: Wed, 05/21/2014 - 8:08pm

Yeah, no. Did you mean each year? What are contract lengths? Is there a salary cap? What happens if the player wants to leave before length of contract up? Does he get paid if cut, injured, or is salary guaranteed? What are the workplace rules? Are there fringe benefits? Are those extras part of the cap or not? Can certain employers rig bids? How do you stop them from exercising their freedom of rigging?

I guess you don't realize that there are more precedents and regulations regarding the employment of "every single person who is working" than you could possibly read or understand in years of study?

Also, you realize the article was about determining value after it has been created, not before? Contracts in sports are prospective, based on the value the employer hopes will be created. This was a theoretical experiment about what value was created after the fact. Value, of course, shifts over time and rarely remains constant. The results of bidding will almost never equal retrospective valuation.

So, yeah, it's way, way, way, way more complicated than you realize, but don't let the Dunning-Kruger in you stop the train that's left the station.

by nlitwinetz :: Thu, 05/22/2014 - 10:18am

Sure there needs to be a HR department to figure out contract terms but schools already have these in place for hiring coaches. The process of biding on star players could be the same that they use for bidding on desirable coaches.

by MC2 :: Thu, 05/22/2014 - 8:36am

Man, there are a lot of pretentious pricks around here.

by ChrisS :: Thu, 05/22/2014 - 10:41am

I agree that negotiating contracts with over 80 current players while simultaneously trying to add 25 new players per year would be a pain in the butt. Having 4 year contracts would make it more manageable but what about players that are on the team for 5 years or players that leave early so I think annual contracts are necessary. I had always envisioned more of a pay scale type of solution like the salaries that draftees get slotted into. I think the total pay package for FBS players should be equal to the total pay of the coaching staff. So each FBS team pays its players the same amount based on the average total coaching salaries paid by the FBS schools. I think it is fair to argue that the players are at least as valuable as the coaches. This would provide about $4m a year for paying player salaries. Say walk-ons get about $25k and then rank every scholarship player 1 to 22 (85 scholarships) with 4 at number through 21 and 1 designated 22. Then each player gets $25k plus $1k for each rank they move up in the scale so your 4 number 1 players would get $25k+$22k. This would be illegal and unions are not possible since they are banned at many State Universities, so Congress would have to pass an anti-trust exemption.

by tuluse :: Thu, 05/22/2014 - 11:37am

In the NFL coaches get approximately 5% of what the players get. I see no good reason this shouldn't be the same in college.

by CBPodge :: Thu, 05/22/2014 - 7:26pm

I have two main problems with the details of this analysis.

1.) If Andrew Luck is worth $3m more than the average college QB, and is getting screwed by not getting paid that, does that mean the worst college QB should have to pay $3m back to his college for sucking?

2.) Sitting down after a player's career is a dreadful way to work out value.

I'm pretty sure all the paying college players thing is massively overcomplicated. They get a sweet deal (free education), but are disadvantaged by the time commitment. So why not just work out what the "average" college student earns from extra curricular work, and just pay every college player that amount? That's basically a fair opportunity cost for a college football player in comparison to a standard college student - they just don't really have the time to do a job to earn cash. Because they spend so much time effectively doing a job that doesn't get them cash.

I can't imagine it'd be that much per player. Going off random jobs in Uni in the UK, I'd guess people earn somewhere between £1k and £4k a year from part time work to supplement their uni loans. Even at the upper end of that, that's 80 players getting $6k a year, or just shy of half a million a year. That's pretty affordable, right?

by mstef8 :: Fri, 07/11/2014 - 11:48pm

How much are they worth to a pointspread if they are announced out of the lineup. That is the most important factor of worth here