Mike’d Up: NCAA feeds their athletes and who doesn’t deserve their paycheck?

On Tuesday, the NCAA implemented small changes that included allowing players unlimited meals from their universities.

Kowaleski: This is too little, too late for the maligned NCAA.

It’s been a P.R. nightmare for them over the past few months. First, Northwestern football players gain the right to unionize and be recognized as university employees. Then there’s an academic scandal outed by ESPN. Finally, Shabazz Napier, the best player for the men’s basketball champion UConn Huskies, tells reporters that he goes to bed hungry because he can’t afford to eat.

It’s hard to spin these things if you’re an NCAA media relations representative.

So the NCAA, reeling and frantically struggling to save face and their stance, quickly spun small reforms to placate growing unrest within the student-athlete population. One of these was a referendum that allows every athlete that helps make them (and every major-conference university) millions of dollars to—*gasp*—eat every night. What generosity.

To me, this is on par with Dan Snyder organizing the Washington Redskins Original American Foundation—a thinly veiled P.R. move with nary an ounce of sincerity. The difference here, though, is that the NCAA finally gave ground, something I wasn’t sure I’d ever see. They were adamant that student-athletes are no different than any other student at a university (contrary to all evidence), and this move shows otherwise.

What do you think, Mike? Is there a sliver of redemption here for the NCAA?

 

Kelley: Walk-ons nationwide are furiously celebrating as we write this. NCAA meal plans ridiculously didn’t previously cover walk-ons. But all of that has changed now. Justice…finally!

Imagine now, that you are a walk-on. Practice was downright brutal today. You ran drills time and again. Up and down the court you went in full sprint. You scrimmaged against absolute monsters that you call teammates. They elbowed you, shoved you, dunked over you, mentally abused you, but you kept grinding. And finally at long last that whistle is blown…practice is over! DINNER TIME! That hot plate of mashed potatoes and gravy is just minutes away.

Nope! Try again. Stop that serving spoon right there. The NCAA doesn’t cover your mashed potatoes. You’re on your own. That Ramen under your bed is pretty appetizing right now.

Now I know I haven’t answered your question whatsoever, Mick, but this aspect of the previous policy is what stuck out to me most. The NCAA is corrupt and has endless problems to solve as criticism rapidly mounts.

I guess it is one step in the right direction. But all in all, this should never have been an issue. It should have been this way all along.

 

ESPN The Magazine released their annual list of sports’ richest athletes. Who was the least deserving member of the Top 25?

 

Kowaleski: Kobe Bryant’s an easy pick because he hasn’t played in two years, and Tony Romo is going to take some shots (he’s a Top 6 quarterback, so back off you filthy degenerates). Albert Pujols also attracts the eye. But there are two quarterbacks who definitely don’t deserve to be in the Top 25, let alone the Top 10.

Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco are tied for the No. 9 spot after raking in $30 million last year, and that’s not right. I realize the NFL QB is the most over-valued position in sports, and you want to lock a guy down if he’s even halfway decent (see: Sam Bradford). But pound-for-pound these guys are as vanilla as they come in terms of ability, personality, and skin complexion. They’ve enjoyed their successes, sure—Ryan’s been to the NFC Championship and Flacco has a Super Bowl ring—but I’d argue that it’s due to the performance of their wideouts than anything else.

Ryan has Roddy White and Julio Jones, two of the best in the league, and Flacco’s Super Bowl victory was due in large part to monstrous postseason performances by Anquan Boldin and Jacoby Jones. These guys come down with an absurd proportion of 50-50 jump balls (Ryan and Flacco’s bread-and-butter) and inflate the quarterbacks’ stats and their wallets.

If you ask me, you should split the QBs’ combined $60 million and give it to their wide receivers.

 

Kelley: I am going against the grain, completely disobeying the italics above, and telling our readers who is most deserving to be on this list.

Tom Brady – I despise him but do I respect him? Absolutely. He consistently year-in-year-out leads the Patriots deep into January. He leads average wide receivers into monstrous paydays. He is truly a franchise quarterback and honestly deserves the $31M paycheck. How Matthew Stafford is ahead of him is bizarre.

Lionel Messi – His paycheck is steep at $50.1M. But he is a world-renowned superstar. A study commissioned by three leading European clubs valued Messi at $331M. Those clubs wanted to assess how much it would cost to acquire Messi via transfer.

 

Kowaleski: I know I speak for the italics when I say that I feel betrayed. Stick to the italics, Mike. They feel unwanted.

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