Pro Scout Outlook on the Business of College Football

SPECIAL TO OURLADS BLOG by Guy Martino

The following article is a reprint by Guy Martino that was posted on his blog: http://guydamartino.wordpress.com/

College football is full of players who hope to one day strike at gold and make it to the NFL. Hitting the big leagues, and making millions of dollars in salary is what these gridiron bound college students strive for. But for now, they are chess pieces in a business that is much larger than any individual or school.

Who better to give input on this situation than an NFL talent scout? Dan Shonka, general manager of national scouting organization Ourlads, joins me for a discussion of the current state of college football.

Guy Martino: Thanks again for taking the time to do this. Can you give some background info really quick about your experience in college football, onto your work in the NFL?

Dan Shonka: Sure Guy, I coached for several years at major colleges. The University of Kansas, Purdue University, Rice, and Iowa State University. Then I was the head football coach at a Division II school called New Mexico Highlands. Then also I was a head football coach in junior college in Independence, Kansas so I have experience at the major college and small college and junior college level.

GM: What exactly if your role at Ourlads?

DS: I am the general manager and national scout of Ourlads NFL Scouting Services. We evaluate talent for the fans out there, and we do newsletters and guides for the NFL draft. Also we do a preview of the draft, and a review of the draft in newsletters. It’s all based on fan interest and things like their favorite teams. But we evaluate college football players for NFL fans and for different NFL teams that subscribe to our service.

GM: Are there any specific college teams or conferences in the past that you’ve noticed that produce more NFL prospects than others?

DS: Yes, I’ll tell you what, there’s a rule of thumb that USC produces a lot of pro football players. The University of Iowa, before this year, had 44 players on rosters before the cuts, but Iowa is in the top 20. Notre Dame has always been up there as well as Florida State and North Carolina. Teams like that have produced several college football players for the NFL.

GM: Any certain conferences that stand out?

DS: Yes, the Southeast Conference, with teams like LSU and Alabama. Every year it’s the SEC, the Big Ten, ACC, Big 12 and then the Pac 10 will come in there, so usually those top five conferences are generally year in and year out, producing the top prospects.

GM: Going along with the conference discussion, I am sure you are aware of the major realignment phase going on. What impact do you think that will have, if any, on the future NFL drafts?

DS: I don’t think it will affect the drafts any. I mean if you are a good football player whether you are at a Big Ten school, whether you are at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, whether you are at Northern Iowa, an NFL scout will go to that school and evaluate that talent. The conference alignment really will not make a big difference to a player one way or another whether he is getting evaluated.

GM: You mentioned the actual student athletes. Do you think these players, who are making millions of dollars for their schools, are being fairly compensated during their college careers?

DS: I think this, first of all they get a college education and I think that the Division I guys are fairly compensated, but also the University makes quite a bit of money off the guys. But if you open a cans of worms by giving a guy so much money every month for laundry or incidentals or what have you, the thing is it is not just for football. Every scholarship athlete, mens and womens, will want a piece of the pie and then that is what really gets into the problem. Because right now, football, and basketball in certain places, with the exception of those sports, they need money. Whether it is a baseball program or what have you, they are not self sufficient. So you can’t keep taking money out of the football pie to keep paying everybody, because pretty soon it’s going to start drying up.

GM: Some of these scholarship athletes have the opportunity to earn millions of dollars at the next level in the NFL. What is your stance on whether student athletes should be able to have agents, and how would having an agent help their draft status?

DS: I think that after their eligibility is up Guy, they should go ahead and get an agent. The agent actually only makes around 3 percent of the total package. On average, you almost have to go in the first three rounds to help pay for their offseason work prior to the time they are drafted. Most of these guys are in Arizona, Florida, New Orleans, Atlanta and it’s very expensive for an agent to put these guys up and work them out. You still go by what a guy does on tape, but also you can enhance your athletic ability for your 40-yard dash and things like that, and that is also a priority for the agents.

GM: Looking at the grand scheme of things in college football, what impact do you think large corporation and business opportunities have on these schools and athletes?

DS: The big thing is of course advertising and the paying for the rights for stadiums to put your name on them, the bowl games. They tack names on the big bowl games anymore. The Big Ten schools, for instance bring in money and share it equally with all of their 12 schools. There is no question about it that overall, corporate America, they like to be a part of our college football.

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