Somewhere around six months ago, Big Ten Commissar Darth Jim Delany didn't hold back when asked about the Ed O'Bannon suit, which threatens to interrupt the river of money pouring into collegiate coffers: (paraphrasing) we'll go Division III, rather than pay athletes. Hilarious, right? We all laughed. And, of course, as Pat Vint later noted from the mothership, Darth Jim, while under oath, wasn't really serious about the D-III thing.
But this week, exiting some otherwise anonymous gathering of conference commissars, two of whom are actually in charge of things, Jimmy had the same message. Oh, he pivoted a bit; he rephrased a little. And the new phrasing earned an ovation, instead of a second round of guffaws. What a difference phrasing can make, huh? That's salesmanship, Jimmy. That's lawyerin'.
To borrow from every 1L's fantasy: "this won't be won by the law, but by the lawyers - so poker faces. It's about assignment of blame. College football is dead. The jury wants to know who is to blame. We're gonna give 'em Jonathan Football."
Awesome choice, Jim - no one likes that a-hole (not even most Aggies). Wright Thompson wrote a piece on him, and could not in good conscious omit relaying that Jonathan told his grandmother to "shut the hell up". Who says that to his grandma? No matter how many millions you make as the Chief Commissar of Amateurism, you'd look good attacking that stooge.
And, that's exactly whom Darth Jim picked:
If they're not comfortable and want to monetize, let (the minor leagues flourish). Train at IMG, get agents to invest in your body, get agents to invest in your likeness, and establish it on your own. But don't come here and say, 'We want to be paid $25,000 or $50,000.' Go to the D-League and get it, go to the NBA and get it, go to the NFL and get it.
Preach on, brother!
I argue it's the [school] color, I argue it's the institution. If you think it's about you (yes you, Jonathan), then talk to John Havlicek about that, you've got to talk to Michael Jordan about that. These brands have been built over 100 years.
I don't view it as a labor force (of course not). I view them as athletes (oops), as students. I view the universities and the brands that have been here for 118 years. It's built by predecessors, from Isiah Thomas to Magic Johnson to John Havlicek to Archie Clark to Red Grange.
Wow! Dropping Red Grange on Johnny's ass! How's that one taste, Johnny?!
Look Jim, I like you. But cut the crap already. Your premise, despite the praise from paid writers around the innernets this week, remains wholly unchanged: you'll share the wealth with players when Bert Bielema becomes classy, or Steve Spurrier stops playing golf. That is, never.
Yet, you know you're wrong, which is why you're still negotiating. You'll offer stipends, up to $2k. Maybe even $3k or $4k, depending upon some arbitrary federally produced figure. You can't get that passed under the current NCAA setting, because only 25 schools can afford it with that inconvenient Federal Title IX law. Good news, though - you're expecting to have your own shiny new (ex)-NCAA division next year.
But $20k salary? $50k for the Heisman winner who helped the Aggies rake in $40M? $12k for the MVP of the 2014 playoffs, which brings the schools $10M each? Go
pound sand train at IMG.
Unlike other conferences, you have a fall back position. Good for you, Darth Jim - increase your Best Alternative To Negotiated Agreement (BATNA). The Big Ten Network (BTN). You have your own TV channels (there are actually more than one). Plus, you've been selling me student run productions, with student quality, over the web for an extra $15/month for the last 2 years. I'm a wrestling fan, Jim, and our community still talks about the "illegal fist to the back" call your Cornhusker announcers gave us a while ago. Thanks for the entertainment.
That criticism aside, I really do like you, Jim. A lot. You're doing your best for your conference from a losing position, in order to continue hording the cash for as long as you can. I don't blame you. That's your job. So keep negotiating, brother. But you're going to have to move position eventually. Losing sucks - and, let's face it: you're gonna lose, if for nothing else than because you're surrounded by morons like Slive and Swafford who still think everything is kosher, and want to continue playing the same game. Good luck.
More from Black Shoe Diaries:
- Blue/White Roundtable - Bye Week Victories?
- Penn State Basketball: Offseason Synopsis
- Big Ten Power Rankings: Week 5
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