Latest new developmental league will challenge college football

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Would-be developmental leagues are a dime a dozen, and one out of every dozen actually manages to make a few dimes. The latest new developmental league could manage to make some money by actually paying players who are not yet eligible to play in the NFL and who aren’t inclined to play for free at the college level.

Via multiple reports (we didn’t get the press release, for some reason), agent Don Yee is launching Pacific Pro Football. The L.A.-base developmental league will be limited to players four years or fewer removed from high school, giving former high school players a for-pay alternative to college football.

Players will receive, on average, $50,000 per year. While that may not match the retail value of “an education,” plenty of college football players end up playing college football not because they want to go to college but because they want to play football. With the NFL keeping them out for at least three years after high school (an obvious attempt to protect college football), plenty of young football players had no viable alternative to playing college football.

They now do. And while “Pac Pro” remains in its infancy and possibly will never learn how to walk much less run, it’s already a clear threat to the college football model. Which, given the extent to which the NFL tiptoes on eggshells when it comes to protecting college football, makes it cause for concern for the NFL.

Which could make things very interesting, very quickly, for a professional football league that will become the first one to directly challenge college football. And which could, if this new league has any success, could force college football to finally find a way to pay its players.

58 responses to “Latest new developmental league will challenge college football

  1. The NFL should have a “minor league” like baseball… feed the fan on the off season… not all of us love the MLB or NBA… or even hockey.. some of us just wanna watch football

  2. I think it’s about time they did something like this. All the other major sports have minor leagues so it only makes sense for football to do the same. I’m sure the NCAA fat-cats don’t like this. It will eat into their bloated salaries. They’ll have to hold off on buying a new yacht every year.

  3. Just because a young man is an excellent football player, does not give him the right to be an NFL player. The NFL should be allowed to do whatever they want, including not allow players into the league who are not 3 years removed from high school. The NCAA should also be allowed to do whatever they want, including not paying student athletes. Being a great football player does not entitle you to an NFL career.

  4. If they don’t have adequate coaching and connections, very few of these players will make it anywhere past the developmental league?

  5. I think, if this league succeeds (which is a long shot), that it could serve more as a pipeline to the minor leagues, not the NFL. A good college player, like a Leonard Fournette, would probably either sit out or take out an insurance policy and stay in school. Only in rare instances would I think this is a league for future NFL players. College prepares you for the NFL. There is so much class work and film study and preparation involved in the NFL, it’s way better if the kids are educated and disciplined. Maybe one or two fringe players will ever get to the NFL, and that’s if the league succeeds. The current system works great.

  6. I just wish this league could finally rid college football of the fake student-athletes. Like Cardall Jones said ‘They didn’t come to play school’ so let them do it somewhere else.

  7. The pay the players mantra is tiresome. These guys are getting paid handsomely. If they are not smart enough to see that and put it to good use, then they shouldn’t be in college.

  8. A lot of the players could be younger than 21, so Id offer free beer in the locker room as well. Technically I think that would be legal because its a private area. That would be a huge selling point to guys that age.

  9. The concept has many flaws… so if a real good player is in his 4th year from college and is a star – he is one and done for a team. Can’t build a fan base that way. Won’t work.

  10. And throughout the NCAA organization bitter old men are very upset to hear that their cash cow might be threatened in any tiny way.

  11. @Najacoo22
    Your argument would be more valid if there wasn’t such an obvious need for talent in the NFL. The NFL ratings are down in part because the quality of play is down.

  12. OR, It could have the reverse effect and shrink the NFL viewer ship by not having 3 years of making the top 1% of players even bigger stars by giving them a stage to perform on.

    College football has a built in audience made up of the current students and Alumni of those particular institutions. While it would decrease the pool of elite talent at a lot of Universities it wouldn’t stop the brand of College football. It would however siphon off a lot of the players who are only at Whatever U to play football and not for the experience and education.

    I think having this Minor/Developmental league would solve a lot of the dilemma that College Football has now about paying players. College Football will survive even if this league took off just because its a tradition that ingrained regionally and individual schools do not have rely on National appeal for survival.

    FYI, I am of the opinion in the current model where College Football is a multi-billion dollar industry and players have no real options if they want to play in the NFL they should get paid over and above their scholarship.

  13. I knew a high school player that was offered a full ride to Michigan, but couldn’t pass act tests to get in. Big and fast enough for NFL, yet no chance to play. Not real smart, but would fit in.

  14. wow seriously, college players are not paid?? they are getting a scholarship and at those big schools the tuition is probably 40k per year +/- with housing and food. They have no student loans to pay back, well of course unless they are getting them and using the student loan money for their tattoos. give me a break, college athletes are paid. Should college coaches be paid millions…hell no!

  15. Beyond the after High School stuff, there is a desperate need for an NFL Minor League. How many guys are really ready for the NFL after college ?? How many excellent small school players never get a chance in the NFL but if they had a few years in a development league would ?
    Finally most QBs are NOT ready for the NFL and most could really use a couple of years training and experience in a minor league before they are ready for the NFL.

  16. Good deal. As an aside, where I’m from, the “value” of an education doesn’t even add up to $28-30K per year, much less $50k. Of course, this doesn’t apply to doctors, chemical engineers, geneticists etc., but very few have what it takes to work in those fields, or can afford 12yrs of school. Most folks end up with a Business/Humanities or other “soft skills” type degree which won’t even get you an interview at Office Depot around here. Nowadays even teaching k-12 requires a Master’s degree. So if these guys can get ANYWHERE NEAR 50k to play football, they’re better off than those playing for a degree

  17. No development league is going to survive without the support ($$) of the NFL. College isn’t the real problem as there is always some small college willing to take the academically challenged or criminals.

    The real problem is AFTER college when their eligibility runs out and they haven’t quite made the league. There are many late bloomers, those who had a bad day at tryouts, were injured, or came from a different college system. These guys are around 22 and just reaching their athletic prime.

  18. uncommon1 says:
    Jan 11, 2017 10:51 AM
    @Najacoo22
    Your argument would be more valid if there wasn’t such an obvious need for talent in the NFL. The NFL ratings are down in part because the quality of play is down.
    ———
    And the quality of play is down because the young players are too coddled and pampered. They only practice for a fraction of the time they use to practice and it shows on game day. You can’t refuse to do the work and expect to be great.

  19. Taco, where do you live?

    Where I live, the annual cost of attending the University of Texas at Austin is roughly $23,000/year, so theoretically a four year degree costs around $92,000.

    And that’s just for Texas residents, out of state residents can add $10,000 per year extra.

  20. 3 types of college football player

    1- the NFL bound, no point to doing any academics player

    2- The 3rd string, playing for an education, actually takes real classes and gets some sort of learning done

    3- the in betweener, wont make the NFL, doesnt care about education. most likely on scholarship

    1 and 2 are going to college 100%. number 3 would be the target for this league. a main factor working against this league attracting this player is the lifestyle that the average college football player has. it really is 4 years of being big man on campus and untouchable in some places. the only way to convince an 18 year old to give that up is $

  21. It will take a while to really challenge college football. Most top recruits will wait until it is proven this d-league is as good a path as top colleges are now. Worst case scenario would be getting stuck in the d-league doomed to be all-but-ignored by the NFL.

    Coaching will be a huge part of the d-league being accepted by the NFL and it will be tough to get top coaches unless they think they can get the money and exposure in the d-league that college positions now offer.

  22. Who’s the main sponsor behind all this, the NFL? It takes a LOT of money to operate a model similar to college football without any of the great facilities the universities provide. Will be interesting to see who the main investors are.

  23. Once a player signs to play in this league he can never play in college, so if he gets cut or suffers an injury and is removed from the roster, he is SOL.

    I presume the founders intend to make money and thus will be cost-conscious, so I suspect the coaching will be far less extensive – i.e. player development will be less – than you see in college.

    Plus there’s no opportunity to be a BMOC with all that entails, And I imagine at least some college players actually do get some value from their college education as stripped down as it might be.

    I don’t oppose someone trying the League, and maybe it will hang on, but I don’t see it as having too much impact on the college game. Besides anything being pushed by Don Yee has to be evaluated with a pound of salt.

  24. najacoo22 says:
    Jan 11, 2017 10:33 AM
    Just because a young man is an excellent football player, does not give him the right to be an NFL player. The NFL should be allowed to do whatever they want, including not allow players into the league who are not 3 years removed from high school. The NCAA should also be allowed to do whatever they want, including not paying student athletes. Being a great football player does not entitle you to an NFL career.

    ————————————————————

    I think you’re missing the point here. Being in this league does not guarantee anything especially an NFL career. What’s wrong with a little competition? The NFL rule is in place to keep a person who a high school senior a few months ago from getting hurt playing with grown men.

    That being said, there is a huge need for a legue that can help players get used to the pro style game which the NCAA by and large does not do. Also, what happens to players who don’t get scholarships but still have enough skill to play the game?

    I think the sticking point that the NCAA doesn’t like is that college age young men will get paid right away as opposed to having to wait until they are drafted. Let’s not act like this league is going to turn out “Lebrons” of the football world and very few in this league are going to make it into the NFL and if they do, they most assuredly will be undrafted free agent. With these thoughts in mind, I think it’s a great idea that is long overdue.

  25. yooperman says:
    Jan 11, 2017 10:58 AM
    I knew a high school player that was offered a full ride to Michigan, but couldn’t pass act tests to get in. Big and fast enough for NFL, yet no chance to play. Not real smart, but would fit in.
    ——
    That’s what Junior and Community colleges are for. They are to get your grades up so you can play your Jr. and Sr. years at a regular university.

  26. I wish everyone on here would stop saying that receiving a scholarship is the same as paying someone. It’s nonsense. Fresh out of college I received a job that paid pretty well and as a BENEFIT the job also paid for graduate school. You can call that a perq, you can call that a benefit, but what nobody ever did was call it getting paid because doing so made no sense.

    Also….If athletic scholarships are considered payment then college athletes are seriously underpaid for what they bring in vs what they receive. Secondly the unflated numbers thrown out when people site the dollar value they always include the out of state value of a scholarship to inflate the value when in actuality most athletes on a team qualify for in state tuition because most athletes attend school in their home state.

  27. I also remember when NFL owners had teams in the arena league, the smaller thinking owners screwed it up because they wanted the league to be cheap. Now there probably won’t even be a league for much longer. That was decent platform for play development and folks like Kurt Warner came out of it. There is a definite need for a minor league.

  28. College already pays it’s players. Free tuition, free food, free board, free healthcare, free travel to away games, etc.

    Just the players don’t see that as payment…because they’re morons

  29. A developmental league could also shorten an NFL bench and salary cap. If each team had one with free use between the big team and the developmental one they could use like the NHL does for injury replacement, etc. Would not have to carry three or four teams worth of players every game to cover the odd replacement when needed. Plus the back-ups get game time vs riding the bench and only practice time. And they could move up and down for conditioning if/when needed not to mention real scrimmages during pre-season/practice.

  30. The biggest problem with these leagues is that you need a fan base to generate the revenues that are necessary to have it succeed. Plus you then need adequate coverage to satisfy the players to ensure they are getting the visibility that is needed to get drafted into the NFL.

    However, if they set it up right, then I think it could be a viable threat to the NCAA, particularly if they focus on having their games over the summer months. If the league ran from May to September, with players able to sign on once they complete high school, it may be attractive enough for players to eventually sign there.

    But I don’t get why it has to be a league made up of players only 4 years or less removed from high school. Why couldn’t it be a league for guys to try to make it to the NFL, or back to the NFL?

  31. “Just the players don’t see that as payment…because they’re morons”
    _________

    Or they notice their head coach is making $5 million a year and the college’s football facilities are like palaces while they’re being encouraged to avoid any hard classes that might take their attention away from football.

    I love how people like to pretend that the schools want these guys taking classes that might get them into academic difficulty. Half the guys you see are still undeclared majors when they’re juniors or they’re majoring in PE or sociology.

  32. $50k per year does not even shake a stick at the value of a college scholarship. While I am sure this will attract certain people involved in unfortunate circumstances, the majority of participants will likely be morons who can’t calculate the real value of the college route or flunk-outs. I can’t imagine these dynamics will lead the quality of football that will be of any real interest to the NFL or even to attracting fans. But other than that, it sounds like a great idea.

  33. If “established” spring independent leagues like the Arena Football League have franchises springing up and folding almost yearly and can barely stay afloat, I’m not sure how this is going to be a successful business model paying players almost $50K a year.

    If the NFL really wants some form of minor league development system, why not establish an NFL Europe like league in the the US and Canada during spring time in smaller markets that probably would support football? Cities that are probably a bit too small for an actual NFL franchise, but where games could be easily played at a local collegiate or public stadium in the area. The NBA has the NBDL and the NHL and MLB have their own minor league systems.

  34. Some players will still get paid more at the LSUs & Texas’ of the NCAA.
    I think Tunsil still owes his trainer from Ole Miss a few bucks from his playing days.

  35. bettis3636 says:
    Jan 11, 2017 10:32 AM
    The NFL should have a “minor league” like baseball… feed the fan on the off season

    ———

    It does, it’s called college football. That being said there are many minor/amatuer leagues out there and if they got their stuff together could make a push at respectability.

  36. base pay shouldn’t be their focus. this NFL D-league should focus players attention on the fact they could accept endorsement money as well as a portion of jersey sales!

  37. gogreenbiotch says:
    Jan 11, 2017 1:02 PM

    Any kid who gives up a free college degree for a short term 50 grand a year job is a moron and deserves the job at Walmart they will get
    ——————————————————–

    I wish I could down-vote this four or five more times.

  38. I’m not on the college players should get paid plan. But I am opposed to the ban on players leveraging their popularity to make money. Guys should be able to make money endorsing products signing autographs making apperances. If a player from a poor background can send mom 25 or 50k a year home for showing up to a few parties and selling cars for the local dealership he’s less likely to move to the NFL for money reasons.

    You have to remember many of these players that declare early are doing so to benefit their families.

  39. yooperman says:
    Jan 11, 2017 10:58 AM

    I knew a high school player that was offered a full ride to Michigan, but couldn’t pass act tests to get in. Big and fast enough for NFL, yet no chance to play. Not real smart, but would fit in.
    ____________________________________

    Michigan is a very good academic school, one of the best. If your high school buddy had an offer there, I’m sure there were much easier schools to get into that would have wanted him and given him a chance to show his NFL talent.

  40. Why all the complaining about college players not getting paid? Do High School players get paid to play? Where does it end?

    And all this talk about the NFL needing a minor league or development league?? Last time I checked, each NFL team has a practice squad … and those players get paid. Why not just expand THAT?

    And this new “D-league”? How is this NOT going to create an atmosphere where athletes begin to drop out of high school to go get paid to play? This new league will have to make an NFL-like rule that a player must graduate high school to be eligible. How is that any different than requiring athletes play college ball before being eligible for the NFL?

  41. It could work as long as they:

    1. Keep tickets pricing in the $5-$25 range.
    2. Make parking is free.
    3. Keep concession pricing reasonable.

  42. There’s really no need for a developmental league to compete with college. What they need is a league and farm system to develop players AFTER college if they can’t get drafted in the NFL so they’re not back on the street and keep them in game shape. Make it a 21 or older league, when they are in their physical prime. It would be a waste of talent without giving them a chance for further development and one day to make it in the pro.

  43. NFL should raise the Team Roster to 62 players and 56 for game time.

    In addition, raise the Practice Squad to 15 players.

  44. How about adding four more more Divisions to the NFL. Drop Teams playing divisional teams twice by adding in the extra NFL teams.

    Would be FAR BETTER for the entire NFL and the USA as opposed to the DUMB plan of expanding NFL Games to travel overseas.

  45. najacoo22
    No one is forcing these young men to play football.

    =====

    Your logic is not jiving with the gist of the article. They are being ‘forced’ to go to class. Football is all they care about. If a league does happen, they get to play football from the jump. In college players would want both, football and a degree. Also, the guys playing in the dev league can still go to college on their own and have jobs and other side business if they desire. The college kids are prohibited from doing that.

  46. yooperman says:
    Jan 11, 2017 10:58 AM

    I knew a high school player that was offered a full ride to Michigan, but couldn’t pass act tests to get in. Big and fast enough for NFL, yet no chance to play. Not real smart, but would fit in.
    ——————————–
    Any university in Florida would take him.

  47. It doesn’t take a genius to realize that the NFL has had a free ride when it comes to the minor leagues. This is what the colleges and universities provide. They’re the minor leagues of the NFL.

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