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ESPN assembled a panel of college sports experts – including ESPN analysts, current head football coaches, a former conference commissioner and a current athletic director – to examine a variety of topics surrounding college football and propose a potential blueprint for change. Segments from the College Football: Blueprint for Change roundtable will air across ESPN’s SportsCenter, College Football Live and Outside the Lines, as a one-hour special on ESPNU and on ESPN.com from Sunday, Aug. 14 to Sunday, Aug. 21.
Rece Davis will serve as host with ESPN college football analysts Kirk Herbstreit, Urban Meyer, Mark May, Mike Bellotti, Robert Smith and Rod Gilmore; ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas; current college football coaches Nick Saban (Alabama) and Bob Stoops (Oklahoma); former BIG EAST commissioner Mike Tranghese; and current Tennessee athletic director Joan Cronan.
SportsCenter and College Football Live
SportsCenter’s College Football: Blueprint for Change five-part series will focus on the subjects that have been discussed and debated by fans, industry representatives, media and more. A different segment examining each topic will debut in the morning editions of the program and re-air throughout that day:
- Outside Compensation (August 14): A debate on whether it should be legal for college athletes to market their image and likeness for profit.
- Outside Influences (August 15): An examination at the impact agents, third parties and 7-on-7 coaches have on a prospective student-athlete and what needs to be changed.
- Recruiting and Enforcement (August 16): A look at recruiting rules, what needs to be changed and how it should be enforced.
- Pay for Play (August 17): A discussion on what an athlete is entitled to as the true value of a college athletic scholarship beyond room and board, and books.
- Postseason (August 18): A look at how college football could establish its national champion and what changes could be made.
In addition to SportsCenter, College Football Live – aired weekdays at 3:30 p.m. ET – will televise each segment: Pay for Play (August 15 on ESPN), Outside Influences (August 16 on ESPN), Recruiting and Enforcement (August 17 on ESPN), Compensation (August 18 on ESPNU) and Postseason (August 19 on ESPNU).
Outside the Lines
ESPN will dedicate the entire Outside the Lines episode Sunday, Aug. 21, at 9 a.m. to Blueprint for Change, providing a compilation of the five SportsCenter segments and concluding with a potential blueprint consensus for change.
ESPNU will televise an original one-hour College Football: Blueprint for Change show Sunday, Aug. 21, at 3 p.m. with an encore presentation at 8 p.m. The program will combine new content from the roundtable discussion with segments from the five-part SportsCenter series. It will be re-aired Monday, Aug. 22, at 5 p.m. and Saturday, Aug. 27, at 11 a.m.
ESPN.com will post each SportsCenter segment and offer fans an opportunity to weigh-in via a daily poll question.
A behind-the-scenes story including interviews with roundtable panelists is available at www.espnfrontrow.com.
Excerpts from each segment:
Bilas: “My thing is – what would it hurt if we had an Olympic model where an athlete could cut a reasonable contract using his or her name and likeness? It wouldn’t cost the university anything – and we’re using the players as billboards now.”
Stoops: “It’s going to all be about recruiting. You come here, I’m going to line you up with the BMW dealer, Nike, he’s right next door to us, you’re going to have this that and the other, we’re going to have you on billboards, this is what we’re going to pay you. Who can pay him the most? And you just know – you talk about getting out of control.”
Herbstreit: “We have all-star coaches that are basically street agents, that are trying to go and talk to all of these schools. And hey – what are you going to do for me, kind of a thing. I think really enforcing third parties and outside influences is priority number one currently for college football.”
Tranghese: “If college football doesn’t get their hands around the 7-on-7, it pains me to say this – and Jay [Bilas] knows it. That’s what we have in college basketball right now. The scholastic influence in college basketball has been minimized so much, it’s frightening. You are not getting a top college basketball player to go to your institution unless you deal with – quote, what we refer to as the street agent. College basketball’s problem is immense. If football doesn’t get their hands around it, it’s going to be just like it.”
Recruiting and Enforcement:
Saban: “We should penalize the perpetrators. I’m with you a hundred percent on that. But I’m saying, we spend all of our time on technical aspects. Same thing with all of the technology that we have, and how we communicate with people. We shouldn’t have a hundred rules on phone calls, text messages, emails, this and that. I mean, we should just say – okay, this is the way you communicate now. Here is when you can communicate, and everybody can talk to everybody. And I think that we would eliminate a lot of these secondary things that the NCAA spends a whole lot of time on, to be able to spend more time on the major violations.”
Meyer: “There was a great template used in the 80’s. The biggest issue in college football was steroid abuse. And I’m proud to say, as part of college football, we fixed that. They got all of the press together, had a special convention, and they said we’re going to clarify the rule – which I think is what Nick is saying – clarify these rules. But also have a penalty in place that is non-negotiable, oh, my uncle did it, I didn’t know the rule, no, no, no. I sat down with two of my ex-players before I came on this show – the guys that I trust. I said, tell me are steroids in football? College football? And they said no. And I said, well why not? And they said because the risk far outweighs the reward. I said, now let me ask you another question. How many great football players take things from agents, how many great football players get induced? I asked these two kids. They said, coach – its everywhere. I said, why? He said, because you’re probably not going to get caught.”
Pay for Play:
Cronan: “And I am very much for cost of attendance. But I think we have to tweak it a little bit because we’re all looking for a level playing field. If a cost of attendance of Tennessee is $4000, and cost of attendance at X University is $6000, putting $6000 dollars in a kid’s hand versus $4000 means a lot when you’re 18 to 22. So, I think we have to look at tweaking a little bit, but I think that’s a great place to start.”
Saban: “But I really think that the Pell Grant, this should be over and above a guy’s capability or qualifying for Pell Grant. Because those players actually come from a socio-economic background that they should be compensated because they don’t have the kind of support at home that they may need financially, so this should be over and above that – we shouldn’t wipe out, you know, the federal grants that these guys can get because of their financial situation.”
Tranghese: “But I’ll tell you this – sit and talk about an 18-team football playoff and try and tell me how it’s going to work. We have the SEC and now we have the Pac-12 and the Big Ten and the SEC championship game is on about December 10. Now we have exams. We can’t play football period during exams. Now it’s Christmas….Now, we’re going to jump into January – we can’t play on the weekends because of the NFL. Now we’re going to play during the week. People have jobs, people aren’t traveling to the bowl games as much as they used to because we’re now playing on Mondays and Tuesdays. There are such huge issues with a playoff. I understand why people want a playoff. We are a society that wants an easy conclusion.”
Meyer: “When I was at Utah, we went undefeated in ’04, and I knew on any given day, that team, if we’re healthy, we could beat any team in America….and so I was a big proponent and kind of a vocal proponent of giving us a shot, just give us that one shot, like at Butler in basketball. Then I go to Florida and it’s completely different. By the time you get to that end of the season, through that schedule, the SEC championship game and go play in a bowl game and then, by the way, if you win that, you get one more – you’re unfortunately on fumes. Your team is – you’re barely holding that thing together. But as far as the BCS, I’d keep it as it is.”
Gilmore: “The model we have right now I think can work tweaked a little bit. I don’t like using the BCS to determine the formula to determine the two teams, I think it ought to be a tool, you know, have a committee, have your six, eight, 10, or whatever number of folks you want, use that as a tool, use the polls as a tool, and figure out which two teams ought to play.”