College football programming decisions another insult to free laborers


Among the many flimsy arguments in support of college football’s traditional failure to pay college football players is the notion that they get excellent exposure via the platform the NCAA provides. But thanks to the same folks who would argue with a straight face that players shouldn’t get paid because they’re not adults (there’s a perfect irony that comes from a guy named “Oliver” denying a bunch of kids “more” — or as the case may be “any”), the exposure isn’t always as excellent as it should be.

Last year, after the brand-new final four tournament was televised by ESPN and not its sister company of ABC, I argued that the players should be upset that the NCAA didn’t insist that the games be broadcast on the network that would have generated a much larger audience. That same argument applies even more forcefully to the stupid-in-foresight-even-stupider-in-hindsight decision to move the semifinals games to New Year’s Eve.

Via John Ourand of SportsBusiness Journal, the Cotton Bowl drew a 9.9 rating and the Orange Bowl generated a 9.7. That’s way down from last year’s 15.3 and 15.5 for semifinal games played on New Year’s Day.

As Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports has been consistently explaining it, the NCAA picked New Year’s Eve to prevent the Rose Bowl from having to move from its 5:00 p.m. ET spot on January 1. And so the supposed “new tradition” of parking two of the biggest college football games of the year on New Year’s Eve will exist only until those years when the Rose Bowl has one of the semifinal games.

Which means that, in those years, the kids who are sacrificing their bodies and otherwise exerting effort for room, board, tuition, and snacks will have to deal with the fact that the folks who run the NCAA don’t care about maximizing the audience.

While the NFL is equally greedy, the NFL understands the year-in, year-out value of having the biggest possible audiences for as many games as possible. That’s why Sunday Night Football on NBC is and always will be bigger than Monday Night Football on ESPN, and it’s why the NFL has moved half of its previously-sluggish Thursday Night Football series to broadcast TV.

Despite the many technological advancements of the last 20 years, millions still get their TV from the free airwaves captured by rabbit ears. And with live football being one of the few things that can prompt millions to congregate on a given channel at the same time, putting the biggest games on broadcast TV is in the best interests of everyone involved — especially the persons whom everyone is tuning in to watch.

41 responses to “College football programming decisions another insult to free laborers

  1. All of these players have a right to pay for college and not play sports if it’s such a raw deal. This is insanity.

  2. Only the Citrus Bowl is being broadcasted. All three other games, including the Rose Bowl, I cannot watch.

    But hey, at least I’m excellently exposed to Jim Harbaugh…

  3. More and more people are cord-cutting and getting their tv by antenna. Between using an Antenna, Netflix, Hulu there isnt much you will miss. If you want to watch sports you just buy the package like for $100 for the year. It has blackouts but those are very easy to get past. Most college games are on CBS, ABC, Fox which you get from the antenna or you can stream for free online and chromecast the video to the tv. I cut the cable 2 years ago (was paying $150 a month), and couldn’t be happier

  4. Got sick of cable and got rid of it. There a re few games I miss but they aren’t worth the the $100+ dollars a month. And you can always find a place streaming it. The biggest thing I miss is not being able to skip those Truck and insurance commercials.

  5. Most of these dopes wouldnt be able to get into these colleges if it wasnt for football. How bout they actually get a degree in something and take advantage of going to a great school for free

  6. If someone gives you an opportunity to receive something the average person is paying off the next 20 years of their adult life for free, its hard to say you should be paid for it as well.

    The school is making money off of them? The school is making 10 times as much off the student body.

    It doesn’t cost $30,000 a year per student for them to stay in a dorm room the size of a prison cell, and to sit In a room with 30-40 other students while a professor teaches you something from a book that you paid $225 for, even though there’s no way it cost more than $10 to publish it.

    Every student in this country is absolutely taking advantage of and ripped off by these colleges, yet you take up the fight of the poor privileged student athlete who gets preferential treatment their entire time on campus, all the while not paying a dime for any of it.

  7. I’d give anything to have the players get paid more than just for their school and sports expenses(remember those flights aren’t free!). The entertainment would be off the board. Players complaining their other teammates shouldn’t be paid as much as them, hundreds of non-football programs turning into club sports and or folding, football programs folding, thousands of kids no longer able to attend college due to lack of scholarships begging for a reversal of policy, football players complaining the woman’s volleyball team shouldn’t make as much as them. Just a train wreck for all our enjoyment!

  8. College football in general is a mess. The conference system is archaic. The ranking methodology is a joke. And their partial solutions to determining a champion are laughable.

    No one can agree on an ideal system (mine would be 8 conferences, whose champ goes to the playoff). And it seems ripe to be ripped from the greedy universities by whatever entity is brave enough to build a minor league. The NFL would be smart to abandon Europe and Mexico and build such a league, where QBs could learn to be QBs instead of RBs who throw, and a pool of competent coaches and officials would continually refresh the pro ranks.

  9. Not only do they get a free ride through college(something a lot of us will be paying back for decades),

    I GUARENTEE, that the majority of these kids are not academically qualified to be admitted to these institutes in the first place.

    So they “go to school” for free despite not being qualified, don’t have any intention of stay until graduation, and now they want to be paid?

    This isn’t “College” Football. If you have to pay these guys, all its going to do is raise tuition even further out of reach of people who have trouble getting in with 3.7 GPAs. Have you ever heard Marshawn Lynch speak? You need darn near a 4.0(with the majority of your classes being Honors Courses) to get into Cal-Berkeley.

    As a college student I think you are ALL insane.

  10. Ugh, this argument again. Look at it this way. They are getting paid. Its called free room, board and tuition. Secondly, if they are good enough for the NFL, they stay 2 years, get nothing out of the free education they received, and make more in a year than most workers will make in their lifetime. If they aren’t good enough to go to the NFL and they have stayed in school, it likely means they will be able to get a good paying job on school connections alone, or hired by the school to be a coach of some sort. No one forces them to play, and for a year or two of being “exploited”, the rewards they are likely to reap more than make up for it.

  11. It was truly another moronic Disney decision. It should have been on ABC but of course trying to keep the four letter network from cratering into they abyss further is more important than sound programming decisions.

  12. Then there’s also the issue of playing the semifinal games on New Year’s Eve. So basically not only did you have to get ESPN but you also had to care enough about one of the teams to plan your party around the game, or choose between evening activities and the game and in the case of Clemson/OU possibly take off work to make the mid afternoon kickoff.

    I like college football but if I didn’t get ESPN I damn sure wouldn’t have gone out to some sports bar (especially on NYE) just to watch it.

  13. We live in a capitalist society. If a college football player thinks he can put together a system that pays them, they are free to do so. Competition is the great equalizer.

    But, if you are unable to work out the logistics of high paying television contracts, stadium rentals, etc. then your competitive proposal has a functional problem and is doomed to failure.

    No problem you say, I will organize the workforce and threaten to strike. Now, you’ve got my attention because if games are not played, that breaks the flow of money and the whole thing falls apart for everyone.

    Who blinks first?

  14. You guys are missing the point. Of course these athletes shouldn’t be in these schools, but what choice do they have? The system forces football players to go to college because there is no minor league and the NFL puts restrictions on who can declare for the draft. We all know they aren’t there for the education. It’s a shame they don’t take advantage of the opportunity, but let’s be honest, many of them are just biding their time until they can get out. That is on the NCAA and NFL.

  15. Most of those “dopes” aren’t at school to learn, they are there to play a sport and make the university money. Better players = more exposure= more money for school. See? Academics has nothing to do with this, and it has nothing to do with them getting paid.

  16. If they got paid the NFL would lose its free minor league system. Hundreds of football programs wouldn’t be able to afford to continue and thousands of kids getting a free education would be out of luck. For the 200 kids good enough to go pro every year, maybe your plan would make sense, for the thousands of others, you’re depriving them of the exposure and education that will help them live productive lives.

  17. I was all for paying the kids to play until I read the comments here. They are solid arguments against. I LOVE the idea of someone, somewhere, somehow starting a minor league system. However I will agree with Florio that it makes no sense for Disney to show two of the three biggest college games of the year on a network that guarantees less available viewers. Then again, and I don’t know this to be true, but I wouldn’t be surprised if those ratings numbers aren’t some of the highest for ESPN while ABC did fine broadcasting New Years Eve celebrations for the non sports fans of the world. Disney isn’t in the business of losing viewers.

  18. The good ones go on to the pros and make their money, the others just got a top notch education for free and have a jump on making money the old fashion way (work!). Its win-win for theses kids how it is now IMO

  19. All the replies here that are anti-NCAA back what I’ve been thinking for years and why I don’t go out of my way to watch any college games including my alma mater. The way Saban recruited a local kid at my daughter’s high school sickened me.

  20. Who will pay for these college football players salaries? Consumers. Or as we all know them, the middle class. The money will come from somewhere, and it won’t be the colleges. A lot of the price we pay for things is advertising. 25 million to put the letters AT&T on a stadium? It is n your phone bill if you have AT&T. Buffalo Wild Wings sponsors a bowl game? Every bit of every wing you eat there puts 10 cents into paying for it.

    This argument comes across as a “war on the rich” argument. Anyone who wants these so called rich people to pay more do not realize these so called rich people charge us more to pay more. They will not give up their profit margin, period. So, keep screaming about how we working folks simply are not paying our fair share. It is working, as we are being charged more every time the words are spoken.

    If college players start getting paid to play, I will quit watching college football.

  21. I think what a lot of you guys are forgetting is that the vast majority of these student athletes aren’t on a full ride scholarship. Those are the minority by far. Do a lot of these students have some sort of scholarship? Sure, but that doesn’t mean it’s free, only discounted. That’s where the problem is. I have little sympathy for those in a full ride, it’s everyone else that is helping bring in millions why living off of ramen for the next month or two once their books are paid for.

  22. They can’t pay players but nothing says you can’t pay their girlfriends with a job as a way to channel the money to the player.

  23. Well, in fairness. Since it is a smaller audience, I guess you could say the players are being exploited a little less. Because the argument being made is that the powers should be faulted for not exploiting them more.

  24. I can’t even understand morons that get all upset when the legit argument is made that D-1 football players should be at least in limited way be compensated. First, never give me the argument that most of these guys would never get in to some of these schools and that their scholarship is enough. Or that you fatty sitting behind a computer has to pay to go to college. If you’d have half the talent, drive, and intelligence in understanding schemes like these guys do then you can open your ignorant mouth. Until then, shut it! Second, these schools make billions off of these kids who HAVE to play 3 years for them before they can turn pro. Some of their coaches make $5, $6, $7 Million a year yet nobody calls them “greedy”. Also, if you over perform before you can go pro you are forced to stay yet if you under perform or injured they can take away your scholarship. I could see the argument if scholarships were guarantees even if you don’t do well but they aren’t. Lastly, a vast majority of these kids do really well in school while managing brutal training regiments, injuries, expectations,and all at 19-23. So PLEASE stop your stupid argument that they’re all dumb, it only shows how dumb you are. These kids should unionize and strike to get just a small part if the insane pile of money all of these schools make off of their hard work. I don’t even like Unions and I would definitely represent these kids if they wanted to fight for just a little more compensation. This is a racket that NCAA has and should be class action under several statutes. I’m so tired of talentless, ignorant, and dimwitted people arguing against these kids getting a small stipend when they have no clue of how much money is being made off of them and how little in relative return they get from their schools. I at least see the NCAA’s, the school’s, and the AD’s perspective which is just greed. But for a regular dummy sitting in front of his computer who couldn’t carry these kids jock strap because you lack any talent or skill to sit there and hate on the kids that deserve to get some additional compensation than just a scholarship is insane. Look in the mirror and remember that you wish you could be a Bosa, or a Boykin, or a Fuller. This argument drives me crazy and I hope Congress, the NFL and NFLPA pressure the NCAA to treat these kids fairly.

  25. I suspect your straw man’s flimsy argument doesn’t apply to the student athlete there to take advantage of his scholarship for the education. What difference does it make to a future accountant how many millions watched him play special teams in the Cotton Bowl. My assumption is that “exposure” matters more to someone who wants to make it to the pros, but even then this article makes no sense.
    Sure it might be fun for a student athlete to play in front of fifteen million rather than ten million, and coaches pitch the fact that their team is on national television x times a year, but neither makes any difference to anything beyond the student’s ego.
    I’m not sure why anyone would think that a smaller audience would hurt the player with hopes of a pro career. Surely you aren’t arguing that NFL scouts were among the millions of lost viewers.
    And if it is among many flimsy arguments, why did you point out that you had “argued that the players should be upset that the NCAA didn’t insist that the games be broadcast on the network that would have generated a much larger audience?” You weren’t defending the player’s nonexistent ad revenue share. What were you doing if not lending credence to the idea that exposure has value?
    Finally, I have never heard anyone make the case that student athletes cannot be paid because they are not adults. Talk about a straw man.

  26. While they aren’t paid, they do get some generous benefits. Have you seen some of the planned athletic centers in the Washington Post recently? Bowling alleys, theaters, etc.

    Poor guys.

  27. Anyone saying they should not pay student athletes is flat out an ignorant foolish comment full of jealousy. Time commitment and potential life altering injuries for an education? These are world class athletes not regular Joes so subsequently they use their God given ability which happens to be their bodies to further themselves.

    Football progress LIMIT course load and specify that they would like their athletes to take “courses” that they can be helped with. What then ensues is athletes taking retarded classes that technically cost the same as our law and business classes but usually result in a labor job where like the author said means you have to use your celebrity just to get a decent job.

    These kids are getting $200000 educations their getting glorified Community College degrees so stop wirh the nonsense. The team and school don’t care about them after school just on field production these free rides can be taken away with simple mistakes that 99% of students do like DRINK OR SMOKE. Many of these players come from lowering income families or societies bc “middle and uper class families have alternatives.theee kids go home for Xmas break and they ain’t no food..

    I am one of these aforementioned type people. Obviously you are about fairness how fair does this sound? You’re selfish to think people should all be imposed the same financial circumstances why don’t we just make everyone pay a flat fee for taxes. Who cares about proportion to income or savings or anything. Stupid comments all over this thread!

  28. ckg0913- so the school makes millions possibly billions of dollars off the backs of players and bc they raise Booster money to build updated facilities to compete with other schools the kids should be just fine going home for winter break (if they can afford their OWN money that the only cannot make) and when you get their you have no money for presents and might not even have lights on in some of these players cases. So these poor kids should be content with bowling alleys the seahawks don’t own and workout facilitate they are required to be at, at 5 am wow that seems totally fair..

    Idiot comments like this reek of jealousy

  29. Isn’t the maximum exposure promised targeted to NFL GM’s?
    I don’t think a college player cares equally about my ability to watch him play against another top 4 team as about Jerry Reese’s ability to watch him play.
    Heck, the real maximum exposure they need is on game film and that has zero relation to network TV exposure.

  30. It is the height of STUPIDITY to say the college players scholarship are NOT GETTING PAID. People who say that simply do not understand the simple fact that money is no different than getting a scholarship. It is still a bartering system, even if the price is set and we accept it without question. The players are getting paid to play college sports with an education for free. THAT has a cost, probably around 20-40 thousand dollars a year , depending on the school and major. If the players wish be paid money, so be it but the all scholarships should be done away with. They either get money or a free ride, not both. If they are not intelligent enough to take the free education just for playing a sport AND understand it may give them a chance to get a shot the pro game, they are obviously too stupid to manage the cash.

  31. I have a new hdtv and an outdoor antenna and get a lot stations. like around 40 and most of them have decent programming and the picture is mint. i get infuriated that i cannot watch bowl games. what a stupid idea to have them on espn.

  32. masher1965 – The idea that a scholarship is payment is not a new concept. IF the student athletes could pick EVERY class they wanted to attend and the athletic department could not interfere with that student’s class scheduling, it MIGHT be considered payment for services rendered……’s not that way.

    These colleges collect BILLIONS every year from TV contracts, regular student tuition, state funding and grant from alumni. They need to give these players SOMETHING for their trouble besides a BA in Basket Weaving.

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