After taking a sociology exam, Cardale Jones, a quarterback at Ohio State, posted a message on Twitter that echoed across college sports: “Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play FOOTBALL, we ain’t come to play SCHOOL, classes are POINTLESS.”
Two years after publishing that provocative statement, Jones will be the starting quarterback on Thursday against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, the second semifinal game of college football’s new playoff system — and his words have renewed relevance. Never has the sport been so awash in money, a growth industry on campuses that some observers believe increasingly resembles professional football more than higher education.
In some ways, even the N.F.L., that $10-billion-a-year enterprise, might be struggling to compete. The University of Michigan on Tuesday introduced its new coach, Jim Harbaugh, who left the N.F.L.’s San Francisco 49ers to join the Wolverines. His base salary — $5 million annually for seven years with 10 percent increases after three and five years — will eventually amount to more than what he was earning in the N.F.L.