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The NCAA is actually doing Georgia running back Todd Gurley a favor by suspending him indefinitely. Hopefully Gurley, who was carrying the ball so well for the Bulldogs early in the season that he was universally seen as a top Heisman Trophy candidate, will recognize it as such, although reports this week seemed to indicate that was not the case.
Of all the dim-witted NCAA rules, perhaps the most ridiculous (and again, we never use that word lightly around here) is the one prohibiting athletes from making money by signing various bits of sports memorabilia. How can this possibly be okay in free market America? I know the powers-that-be have enabled the NCAA to operate as a cartel protecting college sports profits for fat cats for decades now, but it still boggles the mind that they think it is okay to tell a young man he can't profit this way.
The bottom line for Gurley, though is that he won't be making significant dollars while he is trapped in the college sports system anyway. The money-making begins when he joins the pros.
And the good news is, the young man is a junior. Therefore he will be eligible for next year's NFL draft (the collectively bargained rule is that guys have to be three years out of high school to be eligible to go pro - another outrageously socialistic restriction by the way). And he has already had time to digitally record his extraordinary ability to carry a football in game action.
So the thing for Gurley to do is to say "Thank you NCAA for opening my eyes. Why on God's green earth would I be threatening my future earning power by carrying the football for the pittance of a scholarship to attend classes I'm not interested in? I'll just hunker down and wait until I am assigned to a pro team next spring and let that first-round draft-pick money roll in.
Unfortunately, Gurley has returned to practice after sitting out for a while last week and is hoping for reinstatement. Hey Todd! You are looking at this the wrong way!
Accept this as a wake-up call; maybe even do a little studying (accounting classes are nice when you need to start thinking about managing future wealth) and go from there. Then take a hiatus from collegiate education after the winter break and start getting ready for the combine.
While we're talking about making money in the NFL, we do have some bad news for Mr. Gurley. The value of running backs continues to plummet. Perhaps he should use some of the time leading up to the 2015 draft working on his pass rush skills. The guys who can pressure the quarterback continue to make the biggest dollars.
Actually, there is still a place for veteran running backs like San Francisco's Frank Gore and Seattle's Marshawn Lynch. They just aren't making as much money as marquee backs used to. And of course the Bears' Matt Forte is a delightfully smooth and deceptive carrier of the football. He has been able to use his abilities to both make big plays for his team and to avoid many of the crushing hits that sideline running backs week after week. We would humbly advise Mr. Gurley to study these three veteran specimens.
The de-valuing of running backs has been seen most vividly in the draft. No running back has been taken in the first round since Virginia Tech's David Wilson in 2011. And Wilson's career is a case in point: he has been plagued by injuries while playing for a team, the New York Giants, which tries to make sure multiple backs share carries.
The fewer bruising tackles Gurley breaks in college, the better chance he has to one day join the ranks of veteran NFL running backs. In fact, it is clear he shouldn't take any more collegiate hits. The best thing that could happen at this point would be for the wrong-way NCAA to do him the biggest favor of all: Make his suspension definite - for the rest of the season and, if he's smart, the rest of his college career.
Jim "Coach" Coffman is our man on Mondays, except when he's our man on Tuesdays. He welcomes your comments.