The NFL Scouting Combine is one of the world's biggest job interviews, a week filled with physical and mental tests to determine just who is ready for the big stage. Now, as Bruce Feldman of CBS Sports has reported, the NFL is toying with the idea of doing its product a disservice all for the sake of a minute public-relations win.
The NFL is considering not inviting players who are academically ineligible in college to the scouting combine, a league source told CBSSports.com.
This move would be the suspension of Terrelle Pryor on steroids, the NFL capitalizing on something that a handful of loud fans and media think is a smart move. It would be a play to grab some quick goodwill that does little to truly impact the game.
Ben Kercheval at CollegeFootballTalk makes at point quite nicely, stating: "The scouting combine is a money saver for pro organizations, and academically ineligible players will be drafted anyways."
Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples echoed that point in a recent tweet:
And they are both absolutely correct. Barring guys from the combine does not bar them from the draft. Barring guys only lets the public in on something that the NFL teams already know—who finished their seasons in good academic standing.
Nothing more, nothing less.
This decision from the NFL will not make kids get degrees. It will not facilitate the draft process. It will not help set up players for their post-NFL futures. No, it is merely a way to pat itself on the back for a job well done, without actually doing much of anything.
Players leaving after two-and-a-half years of college are not spending the winter into spring hoping to make big strides toward degree progress. They have pushed the pause button on college in favor of chasing down a dream. That means signing with their agent and heading to Florida, California or Arizona to train for the combine..
Guys who have left after three or more years have made significant degree progress—they have to in order to remain on the field. If the degree matters to these players, they will either graduate early, return to school in the summer months or take correspondence courses to graduate.
The NFL would not be doing anyone any favors with this rule. Kids who have decided they don't want to graduate are not served a great benefit by being pushed to stay eligible for one more semester. Guys who do want the degrees can certainly go get them on their own time.
This would not be the NFL saving the day. It would be the NFL making things harder on its own teams in an effort to look good to a small swath of fans who buy the base-level public-relations play.
Don't believe the hype. This is not a push to fix things; it is merely window dressing.