Oklahoma defensive lineman Charles Walker, who has missed more than a month with a concussion, has decided to no longer risk suffering further concussions in exchange for room, board, books, and snacks.
With a pair of regular-season games remaining in Walker’s redshirt junior season, he won’t be returning to college football. Via Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, Walker has informed coach Bob Stoops that Walker will leave the program to begin preparations for the 2017 draft.
The brother of Bob Stoops, Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, does not approve of that message.
“Quitting on your teammates is hard to take as a coach,” Mike Stoops said, via Ryan Aber of the Oklahoman.
That’s right, Mike. Go ahead and make a kid who is trying to do the right thing for himself and his family feel guilty for it. Make him feel small. Stigmatize him as he tries to do what you’re doing in football: Earn a living. (Mike Stoops currently earns $900,000 per year.)
How many coaches quit on their players by taking jobs with other programs, sometimes with a bowl game still left to be played? Coaches routinely do what’s right for them. Coaches never should demean a player who does the same thing.
Yes, college football players get something in return for their efforts. No, it’s not nearly enough — especially since most play college football not for the degree but because it’s an unavoidable aspect of the broader path to the NFL.
College football is and has been a business for everyone except the players. Players need to start viewing it as a business, too, and they need to be willing to make business decisions even if the men who make millions from their efforts don’t want them to.
Here’s why they don’t want them to: If enough players start viewing college football as the business that it is, it eventually will become harder for the men who make millions from their efforts to keep making those millions. And if the antitrust challenges to the entire system of college football ever succeed, college football finally will become officially the business that it already is.
So good for Walker. And shame on Mike Stoops and any other coach who does anything other than fully support the efforts of a player to parlay his God-given skills into man-made money.