Charles Walker makes a prudent business decision

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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.

42 responses to “Charles Walker makes a prudent business decision

  1. This is going to start happening more and more, and it should. To be called out by a coach who is literally using the kid for his own career is both laughable and disgraceful. Not everyone gets to ride the coattails of their much more successful brother. Some have to make a living on their own.

  2. Why should he put himself on the line for college ball?

    NCAA doesn’t show their players enough respect to merit loyalty. It’s not a good or bad teammate issue. All of these kids are going through the gauntlet and risking their bodies for a small chance to become pro where they will actually be compensated.

    Go kick rocks Stoops.

  3. “in exchange for room, board, books, and snacks.”

    You forgot tuition, which for Oklahoma is around 22k a year for out of state students. That puts his total compensation package at 36k dollars a year. Not a bad sum of money to earn while learning a trade that could net him millions. Or a degree, which could give him a life long career. All without crippling student debt.

    Yeah, these football players are sure exploited!

  4. “most play college football not for the degree but because it’s an unavoidable aspect of the broader path to the NFL.”

    These kids are free to hire Nick Saban to coach them everyday and make youtube videos or whatever and then get drafted. Why don;t they do that? Maybe because college football provides them with more than just “room, board, books, and snacks.” How much would it cost to have Jim Harbaugh or Nick Saban to train these kids? A lot.

  5. And frankly, the degree they get in exchange for playing football isn’t what it used to be. It will likely lead to a “lucrative” career in retail or a rewarding life as an office drone. And that’s if they can get a job at all. Lots of folks I know have to lie and omit their degree to even get an interview since most employers are looking for those who want a “career” as a $10 hr employee. Since most of these guys won’t make the pros, they’d be better off if they were taught a trade, like welding, instead of earning a degree. They’d always have work, and 60k per year beats $10 per hr at Staples.

  6. I guess everyone just thinks players have the skills to go straight from high school to the NFL? Along with free tuition, room and board, and best experiences of those kids lives the coaches invested time and effort into the him to teach him skills he needed to become a NFL prospect. They made him a NFL prospect. And now he doesn’t need them anymore so he bails on the team and coaches.

  7. especially since most play college football not for the degree but because it’s an unavoidable aspect of the broader path to the NFL.
    ———-
    Then most college players are going to be disappointed because very few actually make it past the NFL orientation we call training camp. Many try but very few actually make it. And even fewer do it long enough to call it a career.

    Take full advantage of the opportunity you have for an education and the connections you can make as a big time college athlete.

  8. So…. using this logic a professional player who is in the last games of his contract with a given team should find an excuse to sit out or not give anywhere close to 100% in order to protect himself and the hope of the new contract. Prudent business decision? I doubt the fans would see it that way. Or coaches. Or management…

  9. Beyond everything, the kid’s trying to go out, work hard, and *earn* his keep. Ya think Mike Stoops would you have his job if he didn’t ever-so-conveniently share a last name with the head coach/a football legend at Oklahoma….

    #nepitism

  10. And saying your leaving college early because you missed over a month with a concussion is not going to help your draft stock.

    If you missed over a month and decided on your own to skip the rest of the season, I’m not sure how much $ I’d want to guarantee the kid if any.

  11. those kids aren’t there for there DEGREE, there in it to play ball with the hopes of playing in the NFL. The degree gets handed to them ” if they stay “, ever hear some of these NFL players talk “an they got there degree “.

    I MADE HE LOOK LIKE A FOOL TODAY ? huh

  12. Yes tuition room and board are a great gift but the fact remains. After all expenses Oklahoma Football brings in an animal profit of around 50 million dollars. Kids deserve to be paid something for their effort

  13. Walker was cleared by team doctors to play over a month ago. He has missed almost the ENTIRE season, not just the last month. I wonder how his interviews are going to go at the combine…”you mean you basically quit on your team trying to secure being drafted? Will you do the same during the last year of any of your professional contracts?”
    This kid is a first or second round talent that just slid to the 4th or 5th round.

  14. It’s a tough issue.
    By your logic, why should any player likely to get drafted in the first round play in a Bowl game?
    Should Ezekiel Elliott have sat out the national championship game?
    Should the five or six Alabama defensive players likely to go in the first round bolt the team before this year’s championship game? They have a lot to lose by playing.

    You can scoff at the notion of loyalty, and commitment to teammates, but some players take that seriously.

  15. joepescisballs says:
    Nov 16, 2016 10:30 AM
    “in exchange for room, board, books, and snacks.”

    You forgot tuition, which for Oklahoma is around 22k a year for out of state students. That puts his total compensation package at 36k dollars a year.

    ————

    Your math is off. This is the actual real world value of free college tuition for many big time college football players:

    $0.00

    A lot of these guys would never be in college, do not want to be in college, will never earn a degree or do anything with whatever small of education they do manage to squeeze into their busy football schedules.

    Saying that you’ve “paid” many college football players with free tuition is like saying you “paid” a vegan with 4 years of free steaks.

  16. I think some of your guys are missing an important part of it. While yes the school has given him a lot and “invested” in him. He has suffered one known concussion and who knows how many more. Saying that means if he went for any other degree and stayed playing the rest of the years he could suffer more and not be able to do anything. you never know how these things work, he could jump to the nfl make a good rookie deal and even if he injures out he could take time to recover on some level. He has a real fear

  17. Let’s count the assumptions in this article:

    1) Prudent business decision. – Unless his injury concerns scare teams away, then he just pissed money away.

    2) Most play college football to get to the NFL. – If most can be interpreted as something less than 9%. 255 draft picks, roughly 3,000 draft-eligible FBS players. The real number drops if you consider the rest of the sub-divisions of football.

    3) Yes, college football players get something in return for their efforts. No, it’s not nearly enough. – Unless that degree actually pays off, then they have a career without the debt.

    4) So good for Walker. And shame on Stoops… – Because it fits my narrow view of this topic without considering the support it gives to thousands of non-NFL talents and the non-revenue sports that would be worse off without it.

    Look, I am not looking for some faux-debate ala ESPN or FS1. I think it would be good for PFT to have someone reasonably map out the pros and cons of the system. It is far from perfect, but this article is ridiculously slanted.

  18. @Black Dog says: “Should Ezekiel Elliott have sat out the national championship game?” Yes, he should have.

    “Should the five or six Alabama defensive players likely to go in the first round bolt the team before this year’s championship game?” Actually they should bolt right now. What is an Alabama national championship going to pay them now or in the future?

  19. “Saying that you’ve “paid” many college football players with free tuition is like saying you “paid” a vegan with 4 years of free steaks.”

    Hilarious analogy !

    I don’t watch college ball its meaningless to me, so I can only applaud the kid to wanting to get on with his life if he can get into the bigtime.

  20. Saying that you’ve “paid” many college football players with free tuition is like saying you “paid” a vegan with 4 years of free steaks.
    ——-
    No it’s like saying you gave them the opportunity of a life time and they blew that opportunity of a lifetime because they failed to look past the next 4 years of their life.

    It’s not just the grades but also the connections you make in college that can get you ahead of the game of life. The connections can be more important than the grades.

    I’m stunned by how many commentators expect to get everything handed to them without putting any effort into your own life. I find it odd because I was raised that nobody is ever going to give me anything and everything I do get I’ll have to compete for and earn all on my own. I’m glad they taught me that too because that is exactly how the real world has treated me thus far in my life.

  21. 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.
    ===================================

    Did you invent that all by yourself? You want us to believe that most of the tens of thousands of college players believe they can make it to the NFL? No, most know they will not make it to the NFL, they want a college degree.

  22. Curious. If he is deemed healthy and refuses to play, does he have to pay back any of the scholarship he received? I understand the business decision aspect and on the surface it looks like a good idea to sit. But I would assume if you get a full scholarship to college by playing football, you would have to actually play football? If you are in your last year contract in the Pros and decide to take the year off, you lose your pay. Do college players lose any of the benefits they are getting(tuition,room and board, healthcare, snacks)? I really do not know, that is why I am asking.

  23. harrisonhits2 says:
    Nov 16, 2016 11:58 AM
    “Saying that you’ve “paid” many college football players with free tuition is like saying you “paid” a vegan with 4 years of free steaks.”

    Hilarious analogy !

    I don’t watch college ball its meaningless to me, so I can only applaud the kid to wanting to get on with his life if he can get into the bigtime.
    ________________________________________
    College football is meaningless to most patriot fans because Boston College is terrible. If they start doing well then pat fans are all in. Much like after 2001 with the patriots.

  24. “in exchange for room, board, books, and snacks.”

    You forgot tuition, which for Oklahoma is around 22k a year for out of state students. That puts his total compensation package at 36k dollars a year. Not a bad sum of money to earn while learning a trade that could net him millions. Or a degree, which could give him a life long career. All without crippling student debt.

    ——————————————————-

    The problem with this argument is that the reality of being a college football player today means you spend over 40 hours a week on football: practices, workouts, games, plus travel and that leaves you no time to study for your “free” degree or attend class. Not to mention some of the electives like Underwater Basket Weaving they take to maintain academic eligibility do not help much in the real world. Also, if they get injured and can’t play, they’re off the team and lose their scholarship and health plan. Game over.

  25. @southpaw79 – good point. Legislators in Missouri wanted to pass a law players couldn’t boycott [SEC!] games. How do you deem someone healthy if they really don’t want to play? Do you really want that one player pulling against the other 10 on the field,actually getting the other ten players in jeopardy of injury because everyone is not on the same page going full speed? Coaches do have in their contracts what happens when there is breach, misconduct, or quitting but a scholarship is different. I kinda like letting each program decide what to do about it. As for this OU kid, good for him, they already lost twice, but if they were still in contention for a title, would the same decision be made?

  26. Most college football players will never play in the NFL. That is a fact. Most college football players will graduate with a professional degree, and many of them will be able to join the workforce without crippling student debt. I hear the argument about the amount of time spent on football activities being too much to take advantage of a “free” education, and yet most of them will follow that path.

    Throw in the fact that many division 1 football players do not qualify academically to the school they attend, football becomes a doorway to a much larger wold of opportunities beyond professional football, that they otherwise would not have earned.

  27. The problem with this argument is that the reality of being a college football player today means you spend over 40 hours a week on football
    ———–
    When I went to college I worked 60 hours a week to pay for the 2 classes per semester that I could afford. It seemed normal because about a 1/3 of the students I had classes with were doing the exact same thing as I was.

  28. He has every right to quit if he wants but thinking that quitting on your college team is going to help him for the NFL is laughable. Good teams will drop him on their boards over it. They don`t want to spend draft picks on players like Anthony Smith and Chris Borland who don`t love the game and may walk away early. He will either drop in the draft or be taken by a team like the Browns who don`t understand the importance of the smaller signs signaling bigger problems. I wouldn`t touch him in the first 2 rounds.

  29. Hypocrisy on the part of any coach who calls out a player for trying to gain leverage for their ‘next job.’ As many have also commented, most college coaches consistently try to gain leverage on their current university/school to seek out a better paying more affluent school to coach at. The landscape is littered with college coaches who ‘quit’ on their recruits and current ‘student athletes’ to take a job elsewhere.

    However, on the flip side, ‘collusion’ exists here for most coaches will have to call this out when a player does this. Coaches know if they do not guilt their players into playing and not looking after their own (the player’s) self-interests that this type of activity will become more and more prevalent.

  30. The days of teams only looking at players on the field performance only is over. He is showing them that he`s in it for the money and not for team work and winning.And that is fine for him and i don`t blame him personally at all but coaches and GM`s have their own careers on the line so if you don`t think it matters your naive. It doesn`t take 4 months to evaluate game film on these guys.Most of the time preparing for the draft is back ground checks with college coaches,teammates, classmates and team managers trying to determine who going to work hard like a Tom Brady type and who`s going to cash a paycheck like a Damarcus Russell type. The NFL is a hard place to work.If you don`t love the game and the work your at a huge disadvantage trying to hold off all the guys who do.
    HUGE RED FLAG!

  31. If you have solidified your draft position it makes no sense to play. I can see this going on step further with guys like Leonard Fournette skipping the year all together. If I was Leonard I wouldn’t have played at all this year and just entered the draft.

  32. Mike Stoops should shut up. This kid has a concussion history but he
    gave up on his teammates? When the Colleges start to give the players
    a fair share of revenues then you can talk about accountability!
    If he has early dementia is the NCAA going to provide med coverage? “. Provide money for his family due to his incapacity that occurred as a result of his college play?
    When the answer to the above is yes …then Mike Stoops can bitch until then ..how about was is best for the kid?

    P.S. Hey mom and dad make sure your kids don’t play for Stoops!
    He cares!

  33. If this logic works, then:

    “Why bother playing the last year of your contract? You just might get hurt, so why not sit out and wait to renegotiate a bigger contract next year? It’s about your financial well-being, so why risk it?”

    Yeah, I’m sure teams love that kinda mentality, right?

  34. jchipwood says:
    Nov 16, 2016 12:31 PM
    College football is meaningless to most Patriot fans because Boston College is terrible.
    ==========================

    So it’s not just football you don’t understand, it’s the mind set behind what makes Boston a pro town. As sports fans we come together over our pro teams. We know it’s hard for someone in the Third World environment of South Florida to understand but there are hundreds of exceptional institutions of higher learning in the Boston media market. Loyalties are highly divided when it comes to college athletics, with alumni of all of them spread throughout the region remaining loyal to their alma mater. You don’t get it because you have a few football factory public universities with basket weaving and tanning as acceptable majors, the schools here exist primarily to teach not field teams to entertain cretins that never attended them anyway.

  35. The surgeon who just saved your life may have started college on a Lacrosse scholarship, paid for by the football revenue. Nothing, especially this issue, is black and white. But in my opinion, coaches of revenue generating college sports, shouldn’t be paid any more than an equivalent professor position in academics.

  36. NFL teams tend to drop players on their boards if they loaf or quit on their team.

    See #1 overall pick Jadeon Clowney…oh wait, no they dont. If you can play, they’re drafting you.

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