Alabama Football: Notre Dame’s Jack Swarbrick on future of college football


Notre Dame’s Jack Swarbrick and the SEC’s Greg Sankey are two of the smartest people involved in college football. Many Alabama football fans carry a residual resentment of anything to do with Notre Dame. Those old disappointments may still hurt but they should be cast aside when considering Notre Dame AD, Jack Swarbrick.

Swarbrick and Sankey, along with Bob Bowlsby of the Big12 and Craig Thompson of the Mountain West came close to a sound solution to College Football Playoff expansion. The well-designed proposal was derailed by some lacking vision and driven by narrow goals.

Bowlsby was so disgusted by what happened, he has chosen to retire. The Playoff will expand because too much money will be left on the table if it does not. It will just take longer than most college football fans wish.

Arguably more important than Playoff expansion is a total rebuild of college football’s structure, operating principles and rules. In a recent conversation with Pat Forde, Jack Swarbrick discussed the challenges beginning with an ineffective NCAA.

As a result of NIL and the Transfer Portal, Swarbrick offered a concise assessment.

"We went from what people thought was an overly restrictive market to the most unrestricted labor market in the history of sports."

Swarbrick sees no chance that the NCAA can effectively “rein in” NIL, “recruiting inducements.”

"This (NIL) morphed so quickly into talent acquisition fees that it’s just stunning"

For years there have been widespread suppositions that college football would create a new upper-level division that might include up to 60 or so programs. Most opinions have been the new division would remain under the NCAA umbrella, but would basically write its own rules.

Swarbrick and others have doubts the separation will be that simple. After his interview with Swarbrick, Pat Forde provided a summary of a potential split.

"… the fracture lines within the 130-member FBS could leave two disparate approaches: schools that still operate athletics within a traditional educational structure, and those who tie sports to the university in name only."

Not in criticism, but for elaboration Swarbrick explained,

"On one end of the spectrum, you license the school name and run an independent business that’s engaged in sports. The other end of the spectrum, you’re integrated into the university in terms of decision making and requirements"

Alabama Football and the ‘Business’ Model

Those college football ‘businesses’ would not be drastically different from the way some elite programs are run today. At schools like Alabama, Ohio State, Georgia, Texas, Oklahoma, and a few dozen others, programs have become cash-cow businesses. All of them want more control in charting their own destiny.

Media contracts will drive when, but it is becoming increasingly clear a Super League will be formed. It may not come to fruition for another decade but Alabama Football, the SEC and the Big Ten will lead the way.

Next. Alabama Football NFL Mock Draft. dark

An unanswered question is if college football programs become businesses, then, are not the players employees? If they become employees, a player union and collective bargaining agreement would likely follow.