August 25, 2021
I asked Colorado State coach Steve
Addazio two questions about the revolutionary changes in the college football landscape while I was among the group of scribes
gathered around him as he ate a salad at the Blake Street Tavern Wednesday afternoon. (Or as Irv Brown often said, "Chris
expounded at length in his responses, and the the most provocative comment amid it all was this: "As a college football guy, I hope they don't ruin college football. If I was starting
my career again right now, I'd probably go to pro football."
Dropped in alone, minus context and with a screaming headline
to click, whether in social media or anywhere else, would be overreaction. So I'll get to the context -- plus the abridged
comments -- in a second.
The occasion was the Front Range Huddle, the communal Denver media availability of the five region coaches -- Addazio,
Colorado's Karl Dorrell, Air Force's Troy Calhoun, Northern Colorado's Ed McCaffrey and Colorado School of Mines' Gregg Brandon.
And, yes, there was such a thing as a free lunch.
I first asked Addazio if the dizzying events taking place especially in the Power 5
world, are affecting how CSU will strategize
moving forward. I was referring mainly to NIL -- Name, Image, Likeness -- income opportunities for NCAA athletes -- but also
to the potential realignment and expansion frenzies that could lead CSU to a jump to the Power 5 ranks ... or be left behind,
period, as the disparity between P5 and Group of 5 widens.
there's opportunities for your university, you want to be in a favorable position to be involved with that," Addazio
said. "We're in a great conference. I knew this was coming, I just didn't know how it was coming. And it's here. It's
going to get bumpy. But I think wherever there's opportunities, teams and universities are going to look for greater opportunities
and greater revenues, and who knows?"
Then I asked whether the addition of NIL and even the largely overlooked cost of attendance stipends changed the outlook
of the high school kid now? Is it, "What's in it for me?" And do you have to try to combat that?
"I would say the jury's out on all this still,"
Addazio said. "What are the impacts of this? It's clear to me that some at the upper end of the Power 5s ... I mean you
saw the article come out on BYU. You guys saw that. So now what they're trying to do is circumvent the rules so they can have
somebody to play for a walk-on essentially to come, to be a scholarhip player."
At that point, I interjected "Nebraska," referring to the Cornhuskers'
notorious "walk-on" program of the past.
said Addazio. "Back in the day when they had so many, I visited them back in the '90s and their roster was huge."
Then he came to this:
"I was in the SEC for a fair amount of time. There was a lot going
on in that league at that time."
At that point, I laughed and thought about a prominent SEC coach telling me when I visited him for a Sporting News
story that he was afraid to look in the file cabinet in his office because of what he might find out his predecessor's recruiting
and retainment stratagies. (He was speaking figuratively; he knew his predecessor wouldn't be dumb enough to leave behind
"Now it's going on in the open, I guess. Yes, it's hugely impactful. Obviously, this is all recruiting when you hear
somebody say coaches at some of these places are talking about what their players potentially are going to make. It's all
recruiting. . . I would say as someone who has been in it for a long time, it's kind of blowing my mind, to think of where
we are in college football.
"I think it's going to drive it somewhere probably not great for everybody.That would be my sense. It's a total opinion would be at some point
it's going to separate. It's going to be two different, right? How many players are making a lot of money? I don't know that
either. Is that sustainable? I don't know. There's going to be a division. It's going to happen. Where's the line of demarcation?
"I'm just diappointed that they're turning college football
upside down right now and there are a lot of unintended consequences that are going to happen and they're just flying by the
seat of their pants. I don't think I'm talking out of school. If all the stuff, you read a paper and this guy is making,
whatever, three-quarters of a million bucks, what do you do? I don't even know. These conferences are crazy. I hope they don't
ruin college football. As a college football guy, I hope they don't ruin college football. If I was starting my career again
right now, I'd probably go to pro football. . . I say to myself, 'Where is this going?' I wish the powers that be would grab
the tigers by the tail here a little bit.
"In my immediate world, my day to day world. it's not affecting me right now. It probably
could, but it's not right now. We're not at some kind of competitive disadvantage right now, today for our conference schedule
with NLI. Not yet. Not that I know of. And we haven't been recruiting. It's fall camp. I'm waiting to see what's that like.
We haven't been out in America. I'm waiting to see what that's like. We haven't been out in America. Pretty soon, we'll be
traveling ... and it'll be interesting to get the perspective of high school coaches. There are a lot of unknowns."
Of course, the
potential peril of NIL is how recruiting could become bidding wars. You're not supposed to recruit by saying the
prospect is guaranteed "x" dollars for NIL from benevolent booster businessmen and businesswoman -- say, car dealers.
But you think that's not inevitable? And that it's not happening already?