The College Football Playoff, the four-team tournament that replaced the heavily criticized BCS system in 2014, was one the most substantial changes to college football in recent memory. Another change in NCAA policy, payments for players, doesn’t appear likely to happen any time soon, despite the fact that collective clamoring for it grows louder with each passing season. Though the NCAA may never budge from its stance that education is the players’ payment, there will soon be an alternative for athletes with NFL dreams. A $50,000 alternative, at that.
Former NFL head coach Mike Shanahan, former Denver Broncos great Ed McCaffrey and longtime sports agent Donald Yee announced the creation of Pacific Pro Football, or Pac Pro, a four-team league that will compete in July and August in Southern California beginning in 2018. It is a developmental league of sorts, open to anyone who is in their first four years out of high school, even if they’ve previously been enrolled in a major college program or played at the JUCO level. It also happens to offer a salary of $50,000 per player, and even offers to reimburse tuition costs for players who wish to attend community college during the off-season.
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The Pac Pro’s purpose? To prepare players to play the game as it’s played in the NFL. Quarterbacks will only be able to take snaps from under center; there will be no shotgun formations. The spread offense, so popular in the college ranks, will not be run. Quarterbacks will huddle up and be forced to read a defense. One-on-one routes will be emphasized for receivers so that individual game tapes can be created for presentation to NFL teams when the time comes. The players’ talents will be maximized and showcased with the objective of playing at the highest level.
The Pac Pro doesn’t want to be seen as competing with college football, and it won’t make much of a dent in the number of athletes available to major college programs. Guys like Nick Saban, Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh, and the allure of prestigious college football programs, will have an issue recruiting. But take Clemson’s Hunter Renfrow, for example, the guy who caught the game-winning touchdown to win the national championship against Alabama? He was a walk-on. When he graduated from high school, the list of schools that offered him a scholarship to play football included Appalachian State, Gardner-Webb, Presbyterian and Wofford. Do you think a guy like that, who knows he can play, would not be tempted to jump to the Pac Pro?
That’s what the league is banking on. With an objective to prepare players specifically for the NFL and a salary that most kids fresh out of college would kill to make, there’s a lot to like about Pac Pro’s potential. Television deals and sponsorships are still pending, but there will be no lack of kids looking to get involved. Be on the lookout for the PPFL to debut in the summer of 2018, with a ton of talent to boot.