FILE - In this April 19, 2019, file photo, an athlete stands near a NCAA logo during a softball game in Beaumont, Texas. California will let college athletes hire agents and make money from endorsements, defying the NCAA and setting up a likely legal challenge that could reshape U.S. amateur sports. (AP Photo/Aaron M. Sprecher, File)

Fair Pay

It's here. It's all happening.

(How great is "Almost Famous," friends? Seriously, on the scale of the movies that are truly sneaky great — movies that you may not have expected much from but turned out to be all-timers — "Almost Famous" may be the Jordan of that discussion. Let's work in some of the great scenes, quotes from that 2000 classic. Deal? Deal.)

In terms of William's sister's tip that "listen to 'Tommy' with a candle burning and you will see your future" the NCAA is having its hand forced.

California governor Gavin Newsom signed the Fair Pay for Play act into law. The law — which allows college athletes at schools with athletic departments that generate more than $10 million in revenue annually (an important caveat for schools like UTC) to make money off their names, images and likenesses — goes into effect January 2023.

The ripples have started. It's all happening for real.

We know that South Carolina, North Carolina and New York already have similar bills in various stages of state government. There is talk of Florida also getting in the mix, and Florida state leaders are looking at a law that could go into effect as soon as July 2020.

Yes, next summer, friends, because true music, not just rock-n-roll, choose you.

It's all happening. (Yes, TFP ace sports columnist Mark Wiedmer wrote about the rights and wrongs on each side of this issue in today's TFP. He, as always, makes some salient points, and as always, his column is worth your time.)

Here's what should happen next: The NCAA needs to forget the status quo and protecting the way it was or the way it wants to pretend it has been.

The NCAA needs to have across-college-sports-regulations ready to go by the start of the 2020-21 school year.

For once, the NCAA should lead rather than react. It should stride boldly rather than spin. It should make a statement rather than release one.

This is coming, and the hollow threat of California schools — or Florida, North Carolina, or any other state institutions — not being able to compete for NCAA titles is folly.

It's time, Mark Emmert, and if you can't do it, then the NCAA needs to find its Dennis Hope, who famously said, "I didn't invent the rainy day man, I just own the best umbrella."

Talking about fat-cat boosters using this state law to give kids money or cars or suits in return for playing for their favorite school is cute and nonsensical. That pie-in-the-sky, Chicken Little lament is to pretend that it's not happening already.

And not happening on a player level and a university level with shoes and apparel and potato chips and lumber and Dodges or Fords and everything in between.

"This legislation will lead to the professionalism of college sports," the Pac-12 said in a statement.

Huh? College sports has been professionalized for a long time, Pac-12. When assistant coaches are making seven-figure salaries, and LSU's long-snappers have cryogenic-like pull-out chambers at the base of their lockers.  

And yes, Zion Williamson is the name everyone is going to bounce around because of his one-year star turn at Duke. (Actually, the NCAA getting in front of this could actually convince a few five-star hoopsters to come to school for a year rather than go directly into the NBA in the future when that path becomes an option.)

What about the chance for Olympic sports or women's soccer or all the other opportunities for these athletes who otherwise would never have a chance to earn?

In truth, if the NCAA embraced the role of leadership here and would get in front of this, it would solve a lot more problems than it would create.

THE Ohio State AD Gene Smith said THE Buckeyes will not play California teams moving forward, and that is a wrinkle for sure.

But that wrinkle is solved if the NCAA allows this.

It also would give the NCAA a few other feathers in its cap, because if the NCAA thinks, "I have to go home," it needs to realize "You are home."


For example:

> Universal fair pay rules across the NCAA would allow the NCAA to quiet its "pay the players" critics like Jay Bilas, who takes to Twitter every morning with a Jeezy lyric and a snarky "there's not enough money" every time a coach signs an extension or a school renovates a stadium;

> Universal fair pay rules across the NCAA would give the rainmaking players a chance to get something back without violating Title IX rules;

> Universal fair pay rules across the NCAA could allow the schools and conference to dip their toes into a different revenue stream as well — like recreating the College Football video game — to help augment the lose of donations;

> Universal fair pay rules across the NCAA would actually give the NCAA a reset and a chance to restructure its structure.

And making the most of that last one is of paramount importance.

For example, all of the FBI investigations and shoe money and sneaky wheeling and dealing in the shadows would no longer be against the NCAA rules and could actually be done in the open and regulated.

If it's happening already — and the NCAA has never or likely never will be all that interested in stopping it — then figure out a way to control, right? This is that chance.

To be painfully blunt, if the NCAA is not going to enforce its rules or pretend like no one is breaking those rules, then changing the rules would allow the NCAA a chance to reestablish some governance and discipline.

Like Weeds wrote, we painfully undervalue the six-figure opportunity that is an athletic college scholarship. And that's fine for the tennis player who won't go pro or the field hockey star or anyone else who fills the Enterprise commercial that proudly states 98 percent of college athletes go pro in something other than sports.

But unlike the misleading name of the bill, this is not calling for schools to pay the players, which of course would mean the schools would have to pay all the players across all sports evenly.

It's a chance for the star players to get in the revenue stream the star player creates that everyone — coaches, schools, conferences and the NCAA — is already bathing in.

NFL power poll

"Look at this — an entire generation of Cinderellas and there's no glass slipper." That's from William's momma Elaine, played by Frances McDormand. (Side question: Is anyone in Hollywood as consistently great in every role as Frances McDormand? Seriously? Look at her IMDB page and point me toward the one in which she disappointed. We'll wait.)

There is an interesting intersection in today's NFL at quarterback.

You know my thoughts about how giving a mediocre starting quarterback franchise quarterback coin. It is the safe move that will help GM keep jobs but will lead, at best, to a decade of mediocrity.

At worst, it leads you to the Cincinnati Bengals.

But across the NFL right now, be it injury or replacement, there were 11 teams that started or used extensively QBs who were not the opening-day starters.

And some of those dudes are making the most of their chances. Gardner Minshew. Daniel Jones. Teddy Bridgewater. Kyle Allen.

For Carolina and Jacksonville, when their starters return, will there be a decision moving forward? Very possible. If not there, then elsewhere, and if not now, then soon.

Life is about chances, and those dudes are making the most of this one.

To the power polls.



1. New England (4-0). After this Sunday's date with the hapless Redskins, the Patriots likely will become the first team in the modern era not to allow a TD pass in their first five games. Chew on that.  

2. Kansas City (4-0). Winning without your A-level fastball is an important trait, and the Chiefs demonstrated that at Detroit.

3. New Orleans (3-1). This may be a little lofty considering, but without Drew Brees, wins at Seattle and at home Sunday night against Dallas is a testament to the balance and quantity of young talent on the roster.

4. San Francisco (3-0). Yes, you are what your record says you are, but there are still a lot of questions about a team that has wins over Tampa, Cincy and Pittsburgh. Still, even you can't name many of their skill-position guys, Kyle Shanahan's offense is third in points (32.0), fourth in yards (421.0) and second in rushing yards (175.0). Nice.

5. Dallas (3-1). I still believe in this bunch, and in truth, the contract that likely will be the cause of controversy could be Jason Garrett's.



28. Arizona (0-3-1). Yes, I was tempted to put the Falcons here, but Atlanta has a win — something Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray are still hunting.

29. Denver (0-4). The Broncos could not hold a two-touchdown lead against the Mustache Minshew experience, and they lost difference-making linebacker Bradley Chubb for the season. So how was your Sunday?

30. Washington (0-4). Wow, just when you think it can't get any worse, the Giants walked the Redskins to the woodshed with a rookie QB and Wayne Gallman running wild.

31. Cincinnati (0-4). The Bengals were housed Monday night — hey, we got an NFL pick right, hooray — by a Pittsburgh team that is not going to be confused with the 1978 bunch.

32. Miami (0-4). The Dolphins are being outgunned by almost 250 yards per game. Thing about that.


Let the season begin

What's our baseball saying, Spy? Talk to me in the 'er' months.

Well, we're here.

Let's review five quick thoughts as we get going into what is the best month in all of sports.

> The Dodgers really need Milwaukee to win tonight. L.A. has the most pressure of any team in the postseason, and Washington's pitching staff could be hard to handle in a five-game series.

> Houston is the team to beat. Not sure if you are aware how great Gerrit Cole has been this year, but dang. He's 20-5, and know this: Since a May 22 loss against the White Sox, he's 15-0 and dropped his ERA from 4.11 to 2.50.

> The Yankees-Twins series could set a five-game record for homers and for the least number of live balls put in play.

> If you are the Braves, you need a fast start in Game 1. Do not let the Cardinals, who have better starting pitching at the top of the rotation, get rolling. Sneaky stat to watch: The Cards like to run, and the Braves are not really great at stopping base stealers. You have been warned.

> Can anyone name more than three A's or three Rays before they meet in the AL wildcard game Wednesday night?
We'll wait.


This and that

— Vontaze Burfict was suspended for the rest of the season. Call it a career achievement award. He will appeal.

— Talking about Burfict, Jack Del Rio used "teabag people" rather than "T-bone people" in terms of tackling this morning on "Golic and Wingo." Uh, Jack, those are distinctly different things.

— The Falcons made a trade with the Eagles. The details are here. For Atlanta it kind of feels like shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic.


Today's questions

True or false. It's a Tuesday. (That's true.)

True or false, you have zero confidence in the NCAA doing anything close to the smart thing or right thing in terms of the Fair Pay for Play bill.

True or false, THE Ohio State is infinitely more likable and downright rootable (yes, I made that word up) with Justin Fields at QB and without Urban Meyer on the sideline.

True or false, the Lakers should be the NBA favorite as we start training camp.

As for today, Oct. 1, well, let's review.

The Model T was introduced on this day in 1908. Cost: $825.

Jimmy Carter and Mark McGwire celebrate birthdays today.

The Thrilla in Manila happened on this day in 1975.

Rushmore of single sporting events with an all-time moniker. Go.