NOVAK: College football is broken

Published 4:47 am Saturday, September 30, 2023

College football is broken in so many ways I am not sure it can be fixed.

Forget about the Xs and Os. I am taking about the game in general. It is certainly not the college football I grew up on that was so much fun to watch, both on television and in person. But those days are long gone.

College football became a business years ago. I had come to accept that, but what is transpiring now is going to ruin the game, if it shas not done it already. There are several key things that have turned the college game into a farce.

While I agree that players should get some sort of financial compensation for schools making millions of dollars off of them, this Name, Image and Likeness business is out of control and has turned college football into a semipro sport. This is no longer amateur athletics, which makes me sad.

It also returns the game to his dark history when the schools with the biggest pockets among their boosters got the best players. The NIL Is an updated version of that. The bigger the program, the more money a school can create for its star players. It is no longer a level playing surface.

Maybe even more damaging is the transfer portal, which has already ruined the programs. College football’s version of player free agency has been allowed to run amuck and has kids moving from team to team on a whim. I really had no opinion about the portal until an Ohio State linebacker quit the team at halftime of a game and said he was entering it. I knew then and there; college football was in big trouble.

The final straw for me is player getting six or seven years of eligibility. I mean, seriously people, no one needs the more than the one extra year they used to get due to injuries. I was okay with the NCAA giving that extra year that was affected by COVID-19, but we are long past that now. No one should be allowed to transfer from school to school and play six of seven years of college football.

But once again, the game has become more of a minor league system for the National Football League, than part of a player’s college experience. I am not naive, the vast majority of kids who go to college on an athletic scholarship, are there to get an education. They are there to audition for a spot in the NFL.
It saddens me to admit that, but the truth is the truth. That is why I am always so happy when we find out about a player who still plays the game because he loves it. He is not there to use his school as a stepping stone to something bigger and better. When it does propel that individual on to the next level, that is even better.

Last week I was talking sports with a friend and he asked me how long before NIL filters down to the high school level. I admit, I have thought about that. My response was that it probably will eventually. In my heart of hearts, I am hoping that is not the case. High school athletic organizations already have enough to worry about trying to make sure transfers are legitimate.

As we all know, most of them are, but there are still plenty that are not. When states like Michigan went to school of choice, it made monitoring legitimate transfers even harder to keep track of. Making enforcement of that even tougher is we live in a litigation world. If someone does not get their way, they will sue anyone and everyone until they get their way.

It is tough to overcome the power of the almighty dollar. I can only hope that people come to their senses soon and we return to the way it used to be when sports were played for the love of it, not the financial winfall they have become.

But, I am afraid there is no putting this particular horse back in the barn.


Scott Novak is sports editor for Leader Publications. He can be reached at