As the gears keep turning on the NCAA’s future regarding pay-for-play, consider the Chase Young situation one of those rare pieces of evidence. It can be used by both sides of the argument to make a point.
Let’s catch you up, assuming you’re not fully plugged into today’s college football. Chase Young is yet another high-quality defensive end at Ohio State, to the point that he’s ranked among the top favorites in Heisman Trophy speculation. That’s as good as it gets for a defensive end.
Well, an issue has cropped up. Young didn’t play Saturday. Might not play next Saturday. The NCAA discovered that Young’s family accepted a “loan” from a “family friend” he first met “the summer before my freshman year.”
If the NCAA offered a class called Recruiting Violations 101, the words loan, family friend and summer before freshman year would likely be in Chapter 1. And you might want to sit down for this one: It’s being reported that the “family friend,” who happened upon the Young family’s lives just as Chase was leaving high school, is a sports agent. Surprise!
Glad George Gipp ain’t around to hear all this.
Those in favor of going all Wild West and fully opening the college athletic markets, for players as well as athletic departments, will add this to their talking points. Here’s a gifted young football player who, barring serious injury, will likely be worth millions shortly after next spring’s NFL Draft, and the NCAA is sidelining him because he reportedly borrowed money to fly his family and/or girlfriend to last season’s Rose Bowl.
The NCAA makes allowances for loans, but suffice to say, this one didn’t thread the rulebook’s needle.
The Smart People could put a number on what Chase Young has meant, economically, to Ohio State. You and I could give a number based on the sales of his No. 2 jerseys in the campus book store, but it’s harder to put a number on what his talent has meant to the Buckeyes’ football success, which can lead to the biggest postseason games and biggest payouts to the university.
Simply considering Chase Young’s worth versus the relative pittance he may have borrowed from an agent, it’s easy to suggest the NCAA’s rules weren’t designed for these situations. And that it’s archaic to bench perhaps the country’s best football player for such a thing.
On the other hand, if they open the gates and fully eliminate the premise of “amateur athletics,” just imagine how this will play out. You already see how the best high school athletes are showered in glory when recruiting season heats up, and how some are practically handed a future Hall of Fame plaque along with their paperwork on signing day.
Consider the addition of contractual language to all that. But guess what. A lot of hotshot 18-year-olds don’t make it to 19 with the same luster and confidence they had before leaving home and competing against similar talent under the watch of coaches who sure were a lot nicer to them before they signed with ol’ State U.
The stories of financial windfalls going unfulfilled would be rampant, because that’s the way it works with youngsters in all fields — it often happens with 30-year-olds, too, of course. So there’d eventually be a leveling of the supply-and-demand scales.
Faced with operating under such a system, the NCAA would rather head for the hills and blow up its batteries, tracks and bridges along the way. And that’s why the NCAA’s conference table is surrounded by people searching for something between what they have now and the extreme.
Oddly enough, the Chase Young situation feeds both sides’ arguments.
Reach Ken Willis at email@example.com