Former “almost everything you can be in football besides coach”, Oliver Luck, sat with the College Football crew on ESPN to discuss the possibility of the NCAA’s need for a commissioner of college football.
Most recently, Luck was the CEO and commissioner of the XFL. That relationship ended even more disastrous than the league itself did, with Luck suing then-owner Vince McMahon for breach of contract.
Is there a need?
The episode centered around whether college football would benefit from having a commissioner. An idea that has come up due to the recent events surrounding the NCAA’s response to COVID-19.
Luck had this to say:
“I think the real focus ought to be on not necessarily an individual, but a unified voice. A voice that encompasses all of college football. Think of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, there’s one message that comes out. And that’s I think the challenge we’ve seen this past 4 or 5 months with the pandemic is you know the sort of disoriented, uncoordinated approach that has been taken. And I think the American public expects from a great institution like college football that there is a unified voice.”
It’s true, unity within the sport is not present today. NCAA President Mark Emmert’s decision to allow the conferences to decide what to do about their sports, embodies just that.
The Virus Impact on College Football
Different areas have been affected by the virus in different ways; to allow the conferences to decide, without at least some sort of oversight was for most, irresponsible. The Big Ten’s decision to postpone has caused protests, and now there are talks of returning to play months earlier than originally expected.
Meanwhile two states who have had some of the worst reports of cases of the virus, Texas and Florida, house the most teams still planning to play.
ESPN Analyst Kirk Herbstreit would go on to ask Luck about the idea of the Power 5 conferences splitting off to form their own league. To that, Luck replied:
“I’ve always thought that the breaking away talk was sort of silly chatter. But you know it’s picked up a little bit of momentum. I think because of this pandemic, and I think the pandemic has revealed all of the inadequacies and the fault-lines that exist within college sports…Keep in mind that if they did break away in some form or fashion; they would still require some sort of a government body, and that’s sort of the challenge. How do you create that governing body that can be much more nimble and can realize the power of those programs and provide the sort of resources that it needs?”
That governing body is supposed to be the NCAA. With their hands-off approach-unless you violate a rule-has left the landscape without unity. Which is why the Pac-12 and the Big Ten players decided to something themselves. Also, this is why Northwestern attempted to create a union for student-athletes in 2015.
With Luck being the guest on the show, speaking about whether college football needed more leadership, it begs the question:
Does Luck want back in college football?
He has been an NCAA executive, a Board of Governors member, and an Athletic Director in the past. College football did well with him around. So did the XFL when he was at the helm.
The writing seems to be on the wall that Luck’s time with the XFL is over, even with new ownership. Whether or not he makes his return to college football remains to be seen.
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