Well, we said there would be big news coming out of the SEC Meeting in Destin. It started coming today, but what it actually was might surprise you. Steve Spurrier, with the support of several SEC coaches including Les Miles, Will Muschamp, and Nick Saban, proposed that the the coaches pay players $300 per game out of their own pockets.
Aw, isn't that sweet?
As much as I adore Spurrier, I'm going to have call shenanigans on this one. First of all, there's absolutely no chance that it will pass. Firstly, it would compromise fairness across Division 1A. $300 per game would equal between $250 and $300 thousand per year, depending on how many post-season games a team plays. That's not a lot to most SEC coaches other than Vanderbilt's James Franklin, but it is a hefty chunk of change for most mid-major programs. If that doesn't stop the NCAA, the fact that it would run afoul of Title IX might. The only proactive thing this move does is opens up the conversation on the topic of pay-for-play.
While I have no doubt that Spurrier is sincere on some level here, the cynic in me feels that this is mostly a media game of sorts. First of all, it gives the SEC coaches the chance to one-up the Big 10, whose commissioner Jim Delany has been floating ideas about paying players around as of late. The SEC doesn't seem to want to be behind the ball on the issue of student-athlete welfare, and this move not only gives it a chance to dispel that notion, it also makes some of its coaches look like saints. Just imagine the recruiting conversations: "I'd give you money out of my own pocket, son, if that darn NCAA would let me."
Even more cynically, one has to wonder if this move is meant to deflect criticism that may come if the league doesn't do anything to curb the oversigning problem. Of course, if that were the case, you might expect the coaches to be split on the issue down the oversigning divide, but, in fact, oversigning opponent Muschamp is all for it while notable oversigner Bobby Petrino isn't.