College Football Playoff Debate: Pac-12 Reaches Out To Its Student-Athletes

EUGENE, OR - DECEMBER 02 : Members of the Oregon Ducks celebrate winning the Pac-12 Championship against the UCLA Bruins at Autzen Stadium on December 2, 2011 in Eugene, Oregon. The Ducks won the game 49-31 to earn a berth in the Rose Bowl. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

There was one encouraging sign in this whole playoff process that has nothing to do with silly Rose Bowl plus nonsense. The Pac-12 is reaching out to the players, the people who have spawned this multi-billion dollar industry that keeps these athletic departments churning. Stewie Mandel of Sports Illustrated reports.

Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott met with recent Stanford players Andrew Luck, Jonathan Martin and David DeCastro on Thursday to get their feedback on various proposals currently being discussed to overhaul college football's postseason. Last week Scott met with current USC players Matt Barkley, Robert Woods, T.J. McDonald and Devon Kennard, and he will do the same with a group of Utah players prior to their April 21 spring game.

"It's interesting for us to be able to give our opinion as student-athletes, or former student-athletes," said Luck. "We talked about how bowl games affect everything from our classes to finals, how much it takes our family to travel, the plusses and merits in our mind. And also what we thought of a playoff."

At first glance, it does feel like this is all for show. It's not like they'll end up shaping the final playoff plan right? Why would unpaid labor get that sort of input in.

However, by engaging the top football players, Larry Scott is acting in good faith with the players. It shows that the Pac-12 is proactive in engaging its athletes and making them part of the dialogue. Things will hopefully progress in a positive direction for all parties, and perhaps lead to a college football season that helps out the students as much as it does the athletic departments and university presidents of the conference.

Also, it does give the Pac-12 that same cutting-edge mentality. If they can't pay their athletes, reach out to them rather than retreat from them. Make them feel involved in the process of reshaping the college football landscape. Instead of belonging to the old boys networks that the other big conferences seem to fall into, come out and show that the Pac-12 represents its players strongly.

And who knows? Perhaps this is the first step in something greater, and their opinions will count for something bigger.

The player feedback "impacts my thinking a lot," said Scott. "As a former student- athlete myself, I think it should be in the front of our minds for what we want to do.

By taking these steps, Commissioner Larry Scott is not just molding the Pac-12. He could be laying the first seeds for a revolution in labor relations between the big conferences and their student-athletes.

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