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Schultz: Life after college football

Chris Schultz

1/10/2012 1:36:14 PM

I could not care less if the NCAA ever found a way to crown a true National Champion. The purpose of college football is not to feed the NFL the best players possible. The purpose of college football is to prepare its players for life as an adult.

I know I am on an island with this one. I have yet to meet anyone who is in agreement. The conversation always shifts to 'if you could, what playoff system would be realistic?' In watching Alabama beat LSU 21-0, it was easy to identify which players are going to have a shot at a pro career, which will have the pro experience, and which have no shot at all. Not in specifics, but in generalities.

There is always talk about the pro football player and retirement; the adjustment, the adapting to the real world, and how many struggle. In Tony Dungy's first book 'Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices, and Priorities of a Winning Life,' he has a statistic that as many as 80 percent of football players after two years of retirement are divorced and broke. Tough to believe but the information is out there.

But what about the college football player that puts in four or five years to his team and university and then is 23 years old with no NFL opportunity and no degree because he put so much time and energy into football. What does he do; go back to university and 'finish up?' Maybe, but going back many times is perceived as a failure from the players perspective, especially on a Saturday afternoon watching the college team you played for, unemployed and in your 'rent to be paid' apartment. And sure, going back to school is great but who is going to pay and for how long? Let's say you only completed half of your degree because you switched majors in your second year. Is the athletic department going to pay for another two years if you were not a star and just a grinder? Or maybe go back home and start over but again, the friends you had as a college football star now look at you as a college football has-been and never will be a pro. Yes, it is true; people enjoy watching other people fail who have achieved success.

College football should start the first week in September, end the last week in November - no later - and all Bowl games over by January 1st. College football in some ways is tougher that pro football. In pro football, all you worry about is football and you get paid... a lot. In college football, you have to worry about football, school, staying academically eligible, and much contrary to the belief out there; the vast majority - 95 percent and maybe more - do not get paid.

There are a few difficult transitions in life that are hard to manage and excel at. One is when your education is over and reality work begins. For some, it's right after high school and for others its university, but the day is always on the horizon; the day to show up and leave the cocoon of school and start earning money. And for many, it is a process of years as opposed to a moment of opportunity.

If anything, college football should be condensed. Yes, keep the sport as a priority but understand that the people involved that are punishing their bodies have a finite career that ends the moment the last game ends.

Would I do it all over again? In a moment, but I sure would be more aware that the success of the future is based on how you perceive and prepare for it.

Every player on Alabama will receive a National Championship ring that will be beyond impressive. I hope I don't hear in four years from now that one of the players had to sell it for only reasons they know.