College football continues to experience the chaos it has long deserved. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh believes things will only get more chaotic.
Via Austin Meek of TheAthletic.com, Harbaugh told reporters on Monday that two-year-old practice of players getting NIL money and nothing more is not sustainable.
“I don’t think this current system is going to survive,” Harbaugh said. “The status quo is unacceptable. That’s my opinion.”
Harbaugh wants players to share in the NCAA's massive TV revenue. That's something the schools have resisted, for decades. And so they shell-game their way around it, as Harbaugh noted.
“When student-athletes call it a game, corporate-types call it a business,” Harbaugh said. “When the student-athletes call it a business, the corporate-types call it a game. . . . We are where we are. We have to try to make it work. We have to try to make it better."
This isn't simply a case of Harbaugh complaining because he'll miss the first three games of the year as a school-imposed punishment arising from an ongoing NCAA investigation.
“This is something I’ve long talked about,” Harbaugh said. “I didn’t wake up this morning and decide to share this.”
It's good that Harbaugh is speaking his mind in a way that cuts against his own self-interest. Most college coaches predictably toe the line that keeps players squarely on the wrong side of getting paid.
“What I don’t understand is how the NCAA, the television networks, the conferences, the universities and coaches can continue to pull in millions and in some cases billions of dollars of revenue off the efforts of college student-athletes across the country without providing enough opportunities to share in the ever-increasing revenues,” Harbaugh said.
Amen to that. Harbaugh also pointed out that players need a voice in the process, and he called upon more coaches to provide that voice.
He's absolutely right on that, too. The players are the reason people watch the game, and the players continue to be the only ones who don't get a piece of the pie. It's wrong. It's always been wrong. Most have become desensitized to the free-education talking points aimed at maintaining the grift.
And it is a grift. It's exploitation. College football players help provide benefits to many, and they get none for themselves — beyond tuition, fees, room, board, books, and snacks.
The reckoning is long overdue. The chaos created by NIL and the transfer portal are hopefully just the first step in the process.