College football could soon pull the plug on the fall 2020 season, even though players like Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence want to play. If Lawrence and others want to play this fall, and with the NFL not an option for them due to rules aimed at protecting the NFL’s free farm system, there’s a solution hiding in plain sight.
With Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson leading a new ownership group (the sale was approved in bankruptcy court on Friday) and instantly invigorating a brand that flashed in the pan twice in the last 20 years, there’s a rare and unique opportunity for XFL 3.0. Find one city, form a hard bubble, and throw the doors open for high-end college players who won’t be playing college football in the fall of 2020.
They’d be able to play football in a secure environment, they’d be tested regularly, they’d get to play football, and (wait for it) they’d get paid.
If college football goes away for the fall, FOX and ABC/ESPN would rush for the chance to broadcast XFL games featuring major college talent with recognizable names. And with no city affiliations necessary since all games would be played in one place, the players could be allocated to keep current teammates together.
One team could be primarily Alabama players. One could be primarily Clemson players. One would be Ohio State. And so on, until eight rosters (or maybe 12 or 16) are filled, with the best players from all other teams sprinkled in to complete the rosters.
Underclassmen most likely wouldn’t sacrifice their eligibility to play this fall. The XFL would provide a mechanism for giving players destined for the 2021 draft a chance to play this fall, to get paid, and to provide NFL scouts with more game film.
It’s such an obvious solution that it would be a surprise if it didn’t happen — if/when college football stands down for the fall of 2020.
And if anyone can pull something like this off, it’s Dwayne Johnson. It will be interesting to see whether he sees the opportunity, and whether he and his partners seize it.