By Harrison March:
Todd Gurley and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad NCAA
Todd Gurley looked like a man among boys on the gridiron this season.
The Georgia running back and Heisman frontrunner was trashing defenses week-in and week-out. Gurley, on just 94 attempts in five games, rushed for 773 yards – that’s 8.2 yards per carry – and 8 touchdowns. Mind you, he only carried the ball 6 times in the Bulldogs’ 66-0 rout of Troy.
If we extrapolate to a 13 game season for Georgia, which very well could be 14 games if the Bulldogs stay on track for the SEC Championship game, Gurley was on pace for the 17th 2,000-yard season in the history of college football. If Gurley hit that mark, he would have joined an illustrious list of running backs. A list that includes Barry Sanders, Marcus Allen and LaDainian Tomlinson – just to name a few.
Gurley was also headed for 263 carries on the season, and at 8.2 yards per rush would have broken the NCAA record in that category for players with at least 215 attempts on the season.
Nobody in college football could stop Todd Gurley, but that’s when the NCAA did.
It was discovered that Gurley had accepted money in exchange for signing autographs and the Bulldogs’ start running back was forced to hang up his cleats for four weeks.
His shot at an NCAA record? Gone. 2,000 yard season? Not a chance. Immortalization in the fraternity of Heisman Trophy winners? Hasta la vista. All because the NCAA prohibits a student athlete from profiting from their personal brand.
My one question: Who the hell cares??
The story is Gurley accepted $3000 dollars over a two year period for signing autographs. The National Conference of State Legislatures says the state of Georgia’s minimum wage for 2014 is a measly $5.15. That’s just all kinds of wrong, but we aren’t he to talk economics.
If Gurley gets a part time job to make some coin, which is fair game in the eyes of the NCAA, he has to work over 580 hours to make $3,000 – and that’s without considering taxes, which in all honesty I’m too lazy to research and calculate for this instance.
Instead, he can just write his name on a poster or souvenir helmet or whatever and in less than five seconds, he’s down a fraction of a milliliter in ink in his Sharpie, but now has $50. As my favorite TV character Ron Swanson would say, “Welcome to capitalism, my friend!”
(Note: I tend to dislike the guy drinking a case of Bud in the back of his pickup truck shouting, “‘Murica!” I hope I don’t sound like that guy.)
Here in America, trade and industry are owned privately. I can open a lemonade stand on Welch Ave. and make whatever profit I make. The government doesn’t get to step in and tell me I can’t profit off of Harry Lemons®.
Instead of operating under similar principles, the NCAA has treated its athletes much like fascist autocrat Benito Mussolini did the citizens of Italy in the mid-early 1900s. The NCAA has developed a system in which it maintains total control over how its athletes can participate in industry and commerce.
It doesn’t matter that Todd Gurley is going to school on someone else’s dime or that he can eat however many cheese sticks he wants.
He’s worked his tail off to become the single greatest player in college football this season – that’s Todd Gurley’s brand. He put in the work, made it happen and marketed it to the country by trashing opposing defenses. Gurley showed off his brand and made money from it. That’s part of what America is all about – the free market.
Gurley earned those $3,000 fair and square. The NCAA didn’t like it – for whatever reason, I can’t even comprehend – and made Gurley pay for it in the form of time taken away from the field. It doesn’t matter what the rulebook says. The NCAA’s actions are unjustifiable. It’s that simple.
While Gurley will probably blow dodge in the spring to collect his NFL pay day, a part of me hopes he hangs around to stick it to Mark Emmert and claim his rightful place in college football lore – while maybe signing a few autographs for cash in the process.