With National Signing Day just around the corner, we should all be bracing ourselves for some wild, weird, and shocking news to break at any moment. We got some football news today - but it wasn’t of the recruiting sort (not yet anyways) but it was swift and joyous... Vince McMahon is going to relaunch the XFL in 2020.
Vince McMahon is relaunching the XFL, promising a "shorter, faster-paced, family-friendly, and easier to understand" re-imagining of football. pic.twitter.com/0QCqcdjoRO— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 25, 2018
Now, I should offer a full disclaimer here... I’m a nut for “other league” football. When I was a kid, I was obsessed with the WLAF (and crushed when it just became NFL Europe even though I still watched). I was also pretty excited for the XFL.
When the XFL first came along in 2001, my friends and I were at the pinnacle of or buddy group that obsessed over professional wrestling and all that came with it. What else are a bunch of rural America early 20 somethings supposed to do? (Don’t answer that).
So... I want the new XFL to succeed, and I think that only a guy like Vince McMahon has enough guts to give something like this a second life after dying so horrible in a burst of flames (that no one really saw).
What’s this all have to do with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and college football in general? First you need to know what the future XFL is going to be and what it’s not going to be. SB Nation has you covered there:
Alright, alright... I’ve beaten around the bush enough. The biggest effect the XFL could have on Notre Dame and college football is that they aren’t the NFL.
THE XFL COULD DRAFT RECENT HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES
That’s right. The XFL doesn’t have to just be a league of players that aren’t good enough to play in the NFL (which will never ever be toppled by another league - only, perhaps, the justice department). This could be a place for young football players to practice, work, and get paid for playing football without the annoyance of going to classes in a real actual college.
This wouldn’t just apply to those that are academically challenged, but to those that are more of the Todd Marinovich and J.T. Daniels type of player (and family).
It doesn’t even need to be as extreme as all of that (yes the irony of using the word “extreme” is not lost on me). Say there is a 5 star running back from Tupelo, Mississippi and he’s a fairly good student and holds an offer to any SEC school, Notre Dame, Michigan, and others. Perhaps he’s smart enough to know that a running back only has so many hits, and if he’s going to take the abuse - he might as well get paid to do it without weird consequences. He signs a 3 year contract with an XFL team (maybe the Portland Pistachios) and after a really good 3 years of ball, he heads to the NFL Draft to make bigger money.
You see... the XFL could become an accidental minor league for the NFL. Do you think a guy like Maurice Clarett could have used an option like this. Hell, a scenario could be played out EXACTLY like Clarett’s without all of the human decay that ended up happening to the former star of the Ohio State Buckeyes.
This whole thing could eventually force the NCAA’s hand and create real reform as far as stipends and allowing the student athlete to make money off their own image.
I don’t think it’s exactly clear on how this would directly affect Notre Dame. One could say that some of the other top schools in the country are losing talent they would normally get to the XFL, and it could happen to recruits or “one and done” types. This could possibly create a depth gap that some of those schools never had an issue with, and now schools like Notre Dame, Northwestern, Stanford, and Vanderbilt - places that place high value on academics and a 4 year degree, could have an easier time filling its roster with good players to make veteran teams.
WHO REALLY KNOWS?!
The impact of a reborn XFL could be significantly greater on college football than the NFL in the long run - if they can get a long run. The variables involved are too vast for us to be anywhere near being prophetic, but I’m comfortable in saying that the one thing that could turn this whole thing out, would be for the XFL to allow high school graduates to play right away.
You know I’m right.
Think about all of that for a moment, and then think about this system being in place for the last 15 years. There’s no way in hell that anything would remotely look the same.