Fournette argument strikes a nerve in Baton Rouge


College football players make billions in exchange for peanuts (literally, if that’s the snack of choice for a given day). So when that no-money-for-a-lot-more-than-nothing system is threatened, some of the people receiving the revenue that college football players are generating will understandably be upset.

In Baton Rouge, some of the folks whose salaries are paid by the exploits of running back Leonard Fournette and his teammates already are upset about the notion that Fournette, barred by an unfair and arbitratry NFL rule from entering the draft until 2017, should sit out the 2016 season.

This is insulting to Leonard the person,” LSU Sports Information Director Michael Bonnette said on Twitter. “Can’t he get credit for also being high-character guy, loves his team & LSU?”

He deserves plenty of credit for that. He also deserves an opportunity to be fairly compensated for his skills, abilities, risks, and sacrifices. If the college football system isn’t going to give him fair compensation and if the NFL is ready to do so, he should be allowed to enter the draft.

Thanks to that arbitrary and NFL rule aimed at keeping college football coaches sufficiently happy to allow NFL scouts to attend practices, watch game film, and otherwise gather info about the vast majority of players who wouldn’t be ready or able to enter the NFL after fewer than three seasons, Fournette must wait until 2017. And so the question becomes whether he should make a business decision to not play in 2016.

But good luck making a business decision when employees of LSU will attack even mere question of whether a business decision should be made as an “insult” to the player.

It’s not an insult. It’s a compliment. The only insult is a system that exploits young men who collectively generate billions and in return receive a fraction of that value. Plus snacks.

Until that system changes, guys like Fournette need to be thinking less about love of the game and more about short-term and long-term business realities. Everyone else connected to college and pro football thinks that way. When the players do it, they’re ridiculed. When someone encourages the players to do it, it’s characterized as an insult.

Meanwhile, no one in the LSU cocoon is ever going to be truly honest, candid, and objective with Fournette about the situation because all of them are at some level protecting their own self interests.

56 responses to “Fournette argument strikes a nerve in Baton Rouge

  1. Unless college football players unite and walk out, strike, unionize, or whatever tactic is legally stronger, nothing will change. The suits will continue to get the money at the players expense.

  2. Mike, this is tiring and I could care less about LSU. I agree some, albeit very few, are ready for the NFL at a young age. But there are many more who are still underdeveloped and weak minded that would make the terrible decision to go to the NFL early and then risk their college degree, winding up with nothing to show later on. You would also be the first one crying foul if the NFL did allow younger players in, only to later find out that they are underdeveloped. Then you’d be singing the tune of, “Well the NFL is responsible for taking care of these young men.” The rule was made long ago due to colleges actually caring about the student. Those colleges making billions now are greedy, but the original reason still has merit.

  3. You advance this theory once per year, and every time you’re wrong. Sitting out a season does nothing but raise red flags for NFL scouts and allows other people to be fresh in the scouts minds and pass him.

  4. I know the slavery comparison is frowned upon in this establishment, but there is no other fully sanctioned American institution that earns billions, yet returns so little to the revenue generators, as NCAA sports.

    It’s basically a free farm system for the Trust exempt NFL, which also pockets billions. But why slavery? Well, it raked in billions and like the NCAA, provided the basic essentials for the workers to keep producing at optimal rates. (food, housing, uniform/clothing, medcare)

    What happens when eligibility is used up or a player is replaced by a new & improved model? Well, they are devalued, kicked to the curb and rendered useless. Their scholarship is taken away.

    One day, we’ll look back at this system and wonder why it took so long?

  5. So the 60,000 scholarship he receives each year is peanuts? What about the free room and board, the free high quality meals while your average college students diet consist of ramen noodles, pizza, and cereal. Or what about being able to train in a world-class facility? Also, what about the stipend that Power 5 conferences are now paying their athletes? The media needs to stop acting like these kids aren’t being compensated.

  6. I agree that universities are unfairly taking money from students by using their likeness in video games and advertisements, but at the same time a lot of these football players are there on scholarships and don’t even have to attend harder classes so it isn’t like they’re being extremely exploited like sweatshop workers in 3rd world countries so let’s pump the brakes here.

  7. College athletes bring in so much money to the universities they play for in order to make the school better. The players get a free education that 95% of the rest of the students will be paying off for 10 years. That is what they get paid in. Whether or not they chose to take advantage of it is their fault.

  8. Complex problem for an occasional exceptional player. But remember Marcus Lattimore. Torn ACLs twice. Looked to be just as good. Now done in the pros.

    The challenge is that so many players get bad advice and come out early. Dozens of players who came out early last year did not get drafted. The current college rule makes them give up their eligibility when they declare.

    Why not let them declare, but come back to college if not drafted?

    If I were Leonard’s dad, I would tell the tale of Marcus Lattimore and sit out now.

  9. Hey Florio – The argument that you throw out at the top of this post is one that is made pretty often, but does not really hold all that much water if you really think about it. The issue is that while the compensation for top level college players is small for the individual, it is huge when you look at all of the players across all of the schools.

    By that I mean a typical BCS program has 85 scholarships a year with players receiving tuition, room, board and other benefits worth quite a bit. Then there are about 120 fcs schools. That works out to over 10,000 football scholarships each year at just the top level of football – add in FCS and divisions 2 & 3 and that number grows.

    So it is going to be tough to come up with an average benefit to players given that you have tuition at places like Stanford or Duke at $50k+ and many state schools at perhaps $15k for in-state students. But lets just say the average for tuition plus room and board and other sundries is $25k a year. That would put the total benefit to college football players at just the FBS level at over $2.5 billion a year. So the line that college players are getting peanuts while college football players get peanuts is really just wrong.

    Schools make billions and players get billions in benefits that an individual student may or may not actually want. Furthermore the benefit to each player on a team is essentially the same – it is a bit socialist that way.

    So what we really have is something more akin to a salary cap where each player is given an equal share and they are not actually paid in cash – they are forced to accept barter.

    So it the system fair? For a player like Fournette no. But for all of those players who never had the opportunity to go on and play at the pro level it is not a bad deal. I’d happily be the 85th player on the overall depth chart at Northwestern – whomever that player is right now is going to make out like a bandit.

  10. qdog112 says:

    I know the slavery comparison is frowned upon in this establishment, but there is no other fully sanctioned American institution that earns billions, yet returns so little to the revenue generators, as NCAA sports.


    Wrong. Prison labor.

  11. The major concern I have is the fact that the term “amateur athlete” was concocted many, many years ago to prevent players from profiting off their abilities.

    A college scholarship is an amazing perk but compared to the billions that the program generates it’s exactly that, peanuts.

    You have head coaches making more than $1 million, assistant coaches making north of $200K.

    Paying a stipend to a player, somewhere around $5K a year, given the athlete remains eligible academically, isn’t going to cause mayhem. The players would receive the money upon graduating and not while they are in school.

    Marcus Lattimore didn’t lose millions (can’t lose something you don’t have) but instead missed an opportunity to live a lifestyle that he dreamed of. I hope Fournette doesn’t suffer from the same fate.

  12. Forget the whole “loyalty” thing (which is silly…players should start by looking after their own well-being), and let’s overlook that college football shouldn’t bring in such ridiculous revenues in the first place…can we please drop this talk of “fair” compensation?

    These players receive the luxury of room and board, plus fame (and the networking opportunities that come with it…talk about an overlooked financial benefit), and finally the opportunity to be spotted for a professional football future. That IS “fair” compensation, and then some; these players receive it for playing a GAME. Just because the professional ranks have reached a point of ridiculous compensation doesn’t mean such fortunes should trickle down to the college ranks (it also doesn’t mean that they should NOT…it’s simply a separate issue). These players aren’t being “deprived” of NFL-level earnings; those earnings exist ONLY for NFL players, and if the NFL does not allow players of a certain status to join its ranks, than NO OPPORTUNITY EXISTS.

    Calling the age limit arbitrary is also goofy. The NBA has shown the downsides that can come from allowing physically/mentally/emotionally unprepared players (traits more likely to exist with recent high school graduates) to play professionally. Skills don’t receive necessary polish, players get exploited and/or are unable to handle riches well, and so forth. The NBA made the NON-ARBITRARY decision that it was wiser and more beneficial for the league and players as a whole to create a limit. And sure, some exceptions will exist who would otherwise have been prepared for the pros…but the analysis of the NBA (and, likewise, the NFL) is that not having a limit would create far more harm than good. And I would argue that such a conclusion is correct.

  13. Kids should be allowed to make money from their likeness (endorsements, jersey sales, etc.)

    As for Fournette, taking next year and training full time at IMG or another performance academy is absolutely an option. Or he can just play. It’s up to him and anyone saying one is definitively better or correct is probably out of line.

  14. Sure sit out…
    …and forfeit your scholarship, your ability to work out at the facilities, your room and board

    I’ll tell you what, McDonalds will give you far less while you wait and hope.

  15. never liked this rule… kids are literally dying to play the sport. If they feel they are ready then they should be allowed to play at any age, the coaches and scouts will let them know if they can hang by week 1 of an NFL Training camp. With the position he plays as well being a dime a dozen position that has turnover and injuries galore every year you’d think they’d want more bodies out there.

  16. I played DII basketball (no scholarship)and would have killed to be good enough to ‘exploited’ in DI and not have had to take out student loans. Problem is too many don’t take advantage of the free education and increased lifetime earnings that go with it. If they are making money off your likeness(jerseys with names on the back and video games) you need to be compensated. Suiting up on Saturdays they are fairly compensated.

  17. I don’t know why everyone does the whole, hey he is getting a college education and room & board. The schedule given to players (practice, games, media sessions, etc.) are demanding so most can never study something that is going to help them in the real world (liberal arts, etc.). It is not only four months of work as others have suggested they have OTAs and spring games.

    They should create a d-league in the cities with no NFL teams and have a high school draft and a college draft. The players who could care less about school can play in this league for 3 years while only keeping the kids who want an education n college. IMO

  18. The thing that bothers me most is that not only are college players not paid a wage relative to the amount they earn, but they are also blocked from earning money on endorsements. It’s pure exploitation. The crap they call NCAA violations just needs to be brought above board so that it’s all out in the open. It happens everywhere anyway. It’s such a joke.

    Unfortunately the only way this will change is if everyone voted with their dollars and stopped watching college football.

  19. Lattimore is the cautionary tale. As much as you love your team running back is a dangerous position and to me it would make the most sense to sit out the season. Maybe there could be a happy medium where his carries get limited but that raises more issues than just sitting out the year.

  20. The “billions” is spread out over every school in the nation. Only a few schools are making serious money. The rest are breaking even when money is used to help pay for the other “non-revenue” sports. Take those other sports away and you’re losing the whole university experience.

    Also, receiving free tuition, free books, free clothes, free meals, free medical care, access to top notch work out facilities, free tutors, preferential treatment on class selection, etc are amazing perks for playing a sport. 95% of the other college students would jump at the chance to get those perks athletes get. Ask any graduate still paying off loans or the truly hungry student who eats ramen and crappy mac n cheese. I had a roommate who was a football player, and he used to sneak me a steak every so often that I was so grateful for.

  21. princeopus says:
    Sep 30, 2015 12:30 PM
    free college education ,room and board,,,,he is paid well
    Being paid well implies being paid according to one’s value. Fournette is being paid the same as the 3rd stringers .

  22. Agree 100%. South Park is totally right about this. Considering the risk these guys take on, the permanent damage they’re doing to their bodies, and the money they generate, they should be paid. Period. Or they shouldn’t play until they can get paid in the NFL.

  23. Heck yeah, sit out – just go ask two former SEC bretheren running backs; Todd Gurley & Marcus Lattimore

  24. This is losing battle for players.

    You tell the players to unionize and the colleges shut down the program or gets scab players to take their place and the former players are kicked out of school.

    You tell a player to sit out to skirt the rule and the rule is going to be rewritten to require two years of eligibility play before entering the draft.

    MOST kids won’t get drafted and they’ll be gifted a four year degree from a university. Something that most wouldn’t have or couldn’t have afforded anyways. The kids that get drafted end up getting their payday.

  25. I agree. Pay EVERY player, in cash, the amount of their scholarship plus 15%. According to many, they are ready for the NFL, let them demonstrate their maturity by properly handling their own money and pay their own tuition. Let them learn about the IRS getting their fingers in the pie.
    After all, so many NFL players demonstrate their inability to handle large sums of money.
    How many college players could handle $50,000 dollar checks and still pay their college fees? I doubt if the number would be 5%.
    About two years of this system and there would be no college football because there would be no players able to pay their tuition.
    Better solution…income redistribution…Take a percentage of the NFL salary cap and pay it to the college player. I am certain the NFLPA would be right out in front advocating this.

  26. When a team cuts a player – it’s a business decision.

    But if a player makes a decision that the team doesn’t like it – it’s personal.

    Got it.

    SOme of those BILLIONS that college players generate need to go to the college players. Ain’t nobody coming out on Saturday afternoon to because of Nick Saban and his whiny butt. The fans are there to see the players.

  27. I won the $250 million powerball yesterday. Without explanation, they only gave me $1 million instead of the $250. I didn’t say anything though because I’m just happy being a millionaire.

  28. I will share a hypothetical story:

    Ryan, a 20 year old junior in college, is a brilliant mathematician. He has a 3.8 GPA and is being touted as the next bright mind of the future. His father is ill and his family is unable to pay the medical costs. Ryan’s friends start a gofundme page and he leaves college to work for JP Morgan Chase. He’s a hero – his story goes nationwide and the gofundme page exceeds the requested goal.

    If you replaced the Ryan above with Ryan the freshman standout football player, it’s illegal and a major violation.

    I am not saying these players should be six figure deals but at what point do you look at the fat cats are start realizing the rules are outdated.

  29. Some of the supporters of the college system keep pointing out that these players are getting their tuition and whatnot paid for and that it’s not “peanuts.” Fair enough- any of us I’m sure would JUMP at the chance to get our education paid for. But when you consider that these players, if allowed to go pro, could easily make WAY more than that college tuition and in turn simply pay for their education on their own and still have plenty of money to spare, that arguement falls apart.

    I don’t think all college sports athletes should be paid (women’s lacrosse certainly doesn’t bring in the same revenue as the Orange Bowl), but not allowing these players to go pro when they’re ready is silly.

    How many millions of people go straight into the workforce without going to college? I’m in the military, and I can tell you that we get TONS of soldiers straight from high school who are nowhere near ready for the real world (let alone military life), but the only age restriction is that they’re of legal age.

    Would there be plenty of immature kids jumping pro early? Of course. But that would be on them to figure their lives out, just like it is for every other kid in America once they graduate and go out on their own.

  30. Also, one last point regarding the whole “They’re getting more than enough from the cost of education” crowd:

    Ask any of these scholarship athletes what their normal day is like, and they’ll tell you that their whole world revolves around their sport. Multiple practices per day, studying their playbooks and film of their next opponents, gym time, etc- there is very little time left over for the “Student” part of “Student-Athlete.” These kids are basically interning for football, with only a small percentage of them actually having a shot at getting drafted, all the while taking risks that could end their career before it begins.

    Someone mentioned that they should get an insurance policy- what if the kid doesn’t have the money to pay for that? We all know what the NCAA thinks about these kids getting money while on scholarship, so unless the kid comes from a family that’s relatively well-off already, the insurance policy isn’t necessarily an option.

    Pay these kids, or let them enter the draft as soon as they graduate high school.

  31. Missing from this conversation is that many colleges purchase insurance to indemnify top players from catastrophic injuries that damage their ability to fulfill professional careers. I would be surprised if LSU hasn’t made such arrangements for Fournette.

  32. Does anyone remember Trent Richardson who was a Number 1 Draft pick of the Browns. He was supposed to be the next Jim Brown and he has come up as a BUST

  33. “The only insult is a system that exploits young men who collectively generate billions and in return receive a fraction of that value. ”

    So then why dot he players continue to go to college at all? They must think it is worth it. Supply and demand

  34. What are the unintended consequences of paying selected players more? And who determines what they get? If you want guys like Fournette to earn more it’s going to come from the backs of other student-players. A few will win, hundreds or thousands, more will lose. In the end, what did you accomplish?

    We all take risks and make trade-offs. Were you looking for a guarantee when you started this website? I mean, what if something happened to you in the early days?

  35. princeopus says:
    Sep 30, 2015 12:30 PM
    free college education ,room and board,,,,he is paid well

    No, he is not paid well.

    A person like you, i.e. average, no special skill that is exceptional at nothing would be paid well by free college, room and board.

    On the other hand this young man has a skill that only a few people have in this entire world. A skill-set that is coveted by the best amateur and professional organizations that play football. He brings in millions of dollars in revenue to his school and $50-60k per year doesn’t cut it for someone with such a unique and rare skill-set that could easily make millions of dollars a year if/when he turns pro.

  36. Ok so the people saying that their scholarships equate to fair compensation maybe aren’t allowinf themselves to see the whole picture. They are making billions off of these kids and ” higj quality food” in addition to paid tuition truly is peanuts compared to that. One year isn’t going to make a difference mentally to these kids, so why have the rule in place? The whole thing is designed for profit and nothing more. A potential hall of flame pkayer could on their first play of a year they should have been in the nfl get a career ending injury and be screwed for life. At least they’d have a nice check if they were in the nfl. Education these days doesn’t get you where it used to.

  37. darkgoody says:
    Sep 30, 2015 1:08 PM
    Agree 100%. South Park is totally right about this. Considering the risk these guys take on, the permanent damage they’re doing to their bodies, and the money they generate, they should be paid. Period. Or they shouldn’t play until they can get paid in the NFL.

    Ooooooooor, they could use the golden opportunity to take advantage of the free education to train and expand their minds to increase their knowledge. Too many anti-education posters in this website are de-valuing the lifetime value of receiving an education. The vast majority of college basketball and football players will never step foot on an NFL field.

    Beyond the higher salary afforded college grads, America benefits from an educated society.

  38. If the average NFL life span is 3-4 years and players start coming in at age 19 or 20…if that is a change that would be considered, that would make them around 22-24 when they would be out of football and have to hope they were smart enough to save money because even a degree in today’s international business world doesn’t mean as much as it used. What happens when you don’t even have that?

  39. If the main argument for paying players is that the suits are making billions while the players are getting peanuts (a scholarship), all I can say is welcome to capitalism. There’s a corporation near you that is paying it’s workers less than a living wage and not sharing the pie. Why should college football be any different?

  40. Isn’t this more or less the same rationale that Jadaveon Clowney used his last year at South Carolina? Physically be present on the field, but don’t go all out and risk an injury

    This strategy caused all of the NFL personnel people to question his motor, his love of the sport, etc.

    We can certainly rail against the unfairness of the early entry rule all day long, but Fournette skipping a year does as much to hurt him as a possible knee injury

  41. In todays world a college degree is only as good as demand for the degree you have is worth. And there is no way you get a degree in mechanical engineering and play college football. That said the NCAA uses the “they get a free ride” as payment. For what? A degree in something that will never pay them anything they would have gotten never going to school. Come on what are these college players IQ’s and SAT scores. And how many of these so called players graduated and got a job related to their degree. A college degree doesn’t mean you are smart it is just paper saying you know that material. Smart people get paid regardless degree or not. Going to college won’t make you smart. The NCAA is a business and they are there to make money period. As other posters have stated the players need to not play if they want a real change to a broken system.

  42. natigator says:
    Sep 30, 2015 4:50 PM
    Isn’t this more or less the same rationale that Jadaveon Clowney used his last year at South Carolina? Physically be present on the field, but don’t go all out and risk an injury

    This strategy caused all of the NFL personnel people to question his motor, his love of the sport, etc.

    We can certainly rail against the unfairness of the early entry rule all day long, but Fournette skipping a year does as much to hurt him as a possible knee injury
    Jadeveon Clowney? You mean the guy that went number 1 in the draft?

  43. People decry the abuses of FIFA, yet see nothing wrong with the tragic exploitation of these kids? Somehow we’re convinced that a coach gets endorsement contracts and the suits of academia make millions, wining and dining corporate big wigs in University meets & greets or stadium suites.

    Oh, but not every team makes money. Of course not, but have you noticed how many different uniforms college teams now use? I swear American workers are so dumb, it’s scary. The corporate structure even have us convinced we are not worthy.

    The system is a joke and it will be toppled just like other unfair institutions, that were as American as apple pie. It’s basic employment law that the right legal team will win.

  44. Everyone that thinks a scholarship is equitable compensation needs to consider the fact that these athletes are in the top 95th to 99th percentile of their respective field.

    Colleges compete against other college in the form of scholarship offers to secure the rights to these students. It is the same case for every other field of study, be it engineering, math, science, etc.

    However, what is unique to student-athletes is the idea that they can not be compensated by anyone (not just the college or university). It would be absolutely absurd to imagine a world where colleges began dictating to physics students that they couldn’t participate in any grant funded research.

    I don’t necessarily think colleges need to begin paying athletes a salary, however, it is plainly obvious that preventing students from monetizing on their own image while the school is doing the exact same thing is absolutely a skullduggerous money grab clearly exploiting student athletes.

  45. I don’t think it’s fair that non-athletes are forced to go through a minimum of four years of college and incur astronomical debt just so they can get an average paying job. I don’t think it’s fair that for each scholarship given to an athlete, regular people are forced to pay more! If they pay college athletes then it is actually professional football that they are playing!

  46. It does not need to be huge. Just pay the players for their time as if it was a good student job. $12/hour for every hour practiced, were at meetings, 8 hours/day when on the road and game-days, etc. Most students can get a job to make some spending money. Not these guys, and that is truly unfair.

  47. There is no easy answer to this. While I don’t think it’s right for the NCAA and the schools to make tons of money on the likenesses of college athletes, when we get beyond that specific issue I have a hard time feeling bad for scholarship athletes.

    The schools are providing a benefit to them that many of them would not otherwise be able to afford. That is what is getting lost. To the majority of college players, a degree is what will serve them in life because they’re not making it in the NFL.

    The whole idea of the NFL Dream is also vastly overinflated these days, as well. Rookie contracts are no longer huge piles of money. And there are no guarantees. Guys don’t make it, or get injured, or get derailed by personal issues.

    In other words – getting drafted does not guarantee economic security. The average NFL career is what, 3-4 years?

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