Wednesday, June 25, 2014
The NFL recently announced that they are looking into starting a minor development league, but a failure of the NFL is the inability to make one work after two failed attempts.
Football has a need for a minor league system as a way of developing players. The NFL and NFL Player's Association's new collective-bargaining agreement gives coaches less access to players, which hurts those who need extra work to make the league. On the flip side, the deal helps veteran players because it makes it harder for younger and cheaper players to take their jobs. If younger players have less time to work with coaches, it's harder for them to make the team, but that also hurts teams when they are hit with injuries during the season and don't have players they can use for injury replacements.
While the NFL is not currently immune to lawsuits, the timing of its plan to start a new minor league is interesting. Could the NFL see that the lawsuits against the NCAA might affect their current de facto minor-league system? Consider Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany, who has once again threatened to end major sports in the conference if players are paid. Until the NCAA loses a lawsuit and appeals the case, it will take time to see if Delany will blink or follow through with his threat.
The five major conferences could continue even if the NCAA loses current lawsuits, but smaller conferences may decide to do something else if they can't afford to keep up with the big boys.
Depending on the outcome of lawsuits against the NCAA and college football players trying to unionize, the landscape of college athletics could change in the next few years. But that change might not be good for colleges, athletes or fans.
If, and it is a big if, colleges decide to quit football, the NFL minor league would be there to feed the fans' appetite for football.
Change is coming to college sports, but it might not be the great thing everyone thinks it will be. It won't stop the NFL from trying to cash in on whatever changes happen.