If the ongoing Johnny Manziel autograph hullabaloo has taught us anything, it's that the NCAA is too awash with money for its own good, or that of its players. The problem is that the lure of future money is still a dominant motivation for many of the game's best players themselves. Need proof? Just check out the latest recruiting handout from Alabama below.
The total illustrated proudly in the recruiting mailer that Alabama has sent out to prospective future Crimson Tide players is $51,810,000. That's $51.8 million if you got tired of counting zeroes along the way. The sum represents the aggregate total of all four-year contracts signed by Alabama draft picks who were selected in the 2013 NFL Draft (there were nine of them).
There's nothing blatantly inaccurate about Alabama's method here. In fact, there's nothing directly illegal or wrong with it. The issue is a much broader one.
The NCAA holds that players compete for the love of the game and the right to get a free valuable collegiate education. There is truth to that sentiment, particularly at lower levels (there aren't many D-III football players who are going to suit up in the NFL, but an education at Williams or Wesleyan might put them in a boardroom).
Yet, at the top of Division I there's little question that many players are competing now just to set themselves up to compete for money later. It's not about passion for one's school, or even passion for the game. It's about money, and making it appear that Manziel or the likes of Jadaveon Clowney or Teddy Bridgewater is an exception rather than the rule is an example of intellectual dishonesty.
Of course, the NCAA is no stranger to intellectual dishonesty. It blatantly markets its amateur players to the NCAA's own benefit.
That Alabama flaunts the newfound financial might of their recent graduates only further thumbs NCAA's proverbial nose. The Crimson Tide know that the college game is all about money. In a sense, they're just now taking a step toward being honest pimps, couched in the terminology of "the process pays off."
Hey, if you've got it, flaunt it. Just don't pretend that you were there for the right reasons all along.
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