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Will labor uncertainty push Clausen and Tate to NFL?

Nov 4, 2009, 7:30 AM EST

While Charlie Weis acknowledged that Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate will have a decision to make come December, their choice has been made even more complicated with the uncertainty that looms in the NFL’s ongoing labor negotiations.

It’s tough to disseminate what’s true and what’s fiction when it comes to the murky waters of the NFL collective bargaining agreement. There has long been grumbling about the big-money guarantees paid to top draft picks, and that one of the first orders of business in these negotiations is changing the rookie compensation system. If that’s the case, expect talented underclassmen to make the leap to the NFL now before the system changes, or even worse, the league locks out its players.

Since I don’t pretend to understand complex issues like this, and how they might effect the fate of Jimmy Clausen or Golden Tate, I dropped an email to one of the only guys that truly does, PFT’s Mike Florio.

Florio told me he thinks “underclassmen will come out in droves due to fear of no football due to a lockout or an NBA-style rookie wage scale if they work out a deal.”

Before people jump to the conclusion that the Irish will lose both Clausen and Tate because of this, they should also consider that this swarm of players jumping might be the exact reason why Clausen and Tate stay at Notre Dame.

Writes Florio:

Here’s the reality. With discussions on a new Collective Bargaining
Agreement slowly getting warmed up, any new labor deal implemented
before 2011 is widely expected to include some type of a rookie pay
formula that purports to rein in the current windfalls received by the
first eight, nine, or 10 players drafted.

This could prompt even more players to cram their way into a 2010
draft class that already is generating significant buzz as being one of
the best in recent years, if not ever.

The problem, of course, is the money will be paid no matter how few
or how many players crash the draft party. So as more of them join the
flock, more of them will not be drafted in the top of the first round.
Or in the first round at all. Or in any round.

On the surface, the smart move for many will be to wait. But what if
there’s a lockout in 2011? Players who choose not to join the draft in
2010 might not get paid in 2011, either, if the league isn’t bluffing
about being ready to lock out the players and if the players aren’t
bluffing about being ready to take it.

Florio notes that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell declared last December that there would be no change in the rookie compensation structure for 2010. He implores the commissioner to do the same this season, if only to help players make an informed decision regarding their future.

While Jimmy and Golden might very well decide that this season is their last at Notre Dame, the labor uncertainty in the NFL might do more to keep them in South Bend than anyone actually realizes.

  1. Dan - Nov 4, 2009 at 10:47 AM

    Keith: Good article as usual. I appreciate that you did some additonal research and analysis rather than just repeating what others say about the issue. Since I can’t decide what I want to be when I grow up (I’m 56), it would be silly to predict what a young person in college with all these pressures and choices would choose. However there seem to be two points missing in the interest on this issue:
    First we seem to have forgotten Golden’s family history. His father came out early, was drafted into the NFL and played but wasn’t able to parlay that into a long term financial benefit. From everything I recall when Golden committed that family choice was very fresh and a clear counterpoint to the pressures for him to forego getting his degree (next year) for the NFL.
    Second we have all heard of the criticism of JC’s announcement of his commitment to ND. You can critique it but I believe he fully intended (perhaps naively) to fullfill that claim. We do have a chance at a NC next year and that has to be an incentive to stay.
    Neither of these points are conclusive of course and we should all wish both of these young men well in whatever choice they make.

  2. dave - Nov 4, 2009 at 1:38 PM

    I think the value of winning a Title at Notre Dame is worth more money in itself than anything that a chance in the top ten picks of the NFL Draft could pay a football player. Any Red Sox fan can recite the names of all the players on the 2004 team even though most are long gone. My point is that a Championship in this day and age of Notre Dame Football will make these Young Men ND Legends for Life. They will have no problems finding jobs for the rest of their lives no matter where they are because of the ND Alumni Network.
    These guys can win the Title next year and cement themselves into Irish Lore. I hope they both comeback next year. And I hope the Irish can rip off 20+ wins and a National Title or two. I am excited about Darius Fleming and his fellow D-Ends speed rush and the improvements in the LB core. With Charlie’s talent for recruiting and developing great offensive talent and the improvement on the Defensive side of the ball coming from having Charlie’s Players playing Defense rather than Ty’s guys I feel confident in a National Title for next year beginning now. GO IRISH!

  3. mike ford - Nov 4, 2009 at 8:28 PM

    Great article these things have me worried also and I would be disappointed to see this kind of talent leave for nothing other then MONEY worries. Also great comments by both Dan and Dave!!

  4. ugetwutuask4 - Nov 4, 2009 at 9:54 PM

    GREAT ARTICLE. JUST LIKE MY FELLOW DIE HARD IRISH FANS I’VE BEEN BATTLING THE THOUGHT OF JIMMY AND GOLDEN LEAVING US FOR THE NFL EARLY. BUT AT THE SAME TIME HOW COULD I NOT BE HAPPY WITH WHAT THEY’VE RESTORED FOR ME AND IRISH FANS ALL OVER THE WORLD AND THAT IS WINNING TO SAY THE LEAST BUT ALSO HOPE AND INSPIRATION. AFTER SO MANY YEARS OF BEING KICKED AND THROWN AROUND AS A PROGRAM WHO CAN’T COMPETE IN TODAYS WORLD OF WIN AT ALL COSTS COLLEGE ATHELETICS DUE TO A LACK OF ATHLETES AND TALENT BECAUSE OF OUR ACADEMIC STANDARDS OR AT LEAST THATS WHAT THE SO CALLED “EXPERTS” SAID. JIMMY, GOLDEN, FLOYD, TEO, AND CO. ARE PROVING THEM WRONG. ALL GREAT ATHELETES IN THEIR OWN RIGHT BUT FURTHERMORE INTELLIGENT KIDS WITH HEART AND RESPECT. KIDS THAT MAY COME ACROSS TO OTHERS AS COCKY AT TIMES I’DE SAY ARE CONFIDENT. THESE GUYS AREN’T TRYING TO GOUGE OPPONENTS EYES OUT OR KNOCKING OPPONENTS IN THE FACE AFTER A GAME OR QUITTING ON THEIR TEAMMATES OR EVEN GOING TO SCHOOL JUST TO PLAY ATHELETICS AND GET A SIMPLE DEGREE IN PHYS ED. THEY CAME TO ND TO BRING BACK A NATION. A NATION IN NEED OF TOUGHNESS, RESPECT FROM NAY SAYERS, AND CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENTION. MY GOALS AND EXPECTATIONS ARE JUST AS HIGH AS ANY ND GRADUATE, ALUM, STAFF, AND BOOSTER ETC. IF NOT HIGHER BUT I BELIEVE THESE KIDS AND COACHES HAVE RESTORED THE THREE NOT 100% BUT CLOSE TO IT. AND I KNOW WE STILL HAVE A LONG ROAD AHEAD OF US BUT I SEE LIGHT AT THE END. I KNOW THIS IS TRUE BECAUSE OF COURSE AS A DIE HARD I’VE LOVED TO WATCH EVERY TEAM SINCE I FIRST STARTED WATCHING BACK IN ’86 AND EVERY TEAM THROUGH THE HOLTZ ERA FELT LIKE THEY WERE A PART OF ME AND I WAS A PART OF THEM. THAT FEELING WAS LOST THROUGH THE DARK UGLY YEARS OF THE LATE 90′S EVENTHOUGH I STILL CARED. BUT THAT FEELING IS BACK AND ITS BECAUSE OF THE FIGHT IN THESE KIDS HEART AND MIND. I KNOW THERE ARE GOING TO BE A LOT MORE KIDS JUST LIKE THEM THAT WILL BE TOUCHING THAT PLAY LIKE A CHAMPION SIGN IN YEARS TO COME AND THE ONLY WAY TO REPAY THEM IS BY WISHING THEM WELL IN THEIR NFL CAREERS BE IT EARLY OR AFTER FOUR YEARS.

  5. Mulepadre - Nov 5, 2009 at 8:19 AM

    As an alumni (’79) and a Catholic priest it goes against all my innate and good sensibilities to see money ‘trump’ college sports. What about athletic and academic excellence or the character they can foster?
    I mean where’s the loyalty and the higher purpose to it all?
    I can say as such that the degree that achievement is measured in dollars… then inversely is ‘character’ so impoverished.
    I know I am being idealistic but nevertheless my points cast a pretty poor reflection back upon #7. Would you say?
    Oh well, I do remember the stretch Hummer news conference that began this most recent QB era… I guess it is fitting that it end that way.

  6. Brad - Nov 5, 2009 at 12:18 PM

    Since the forced retirement of Lou Holtz, it’s been a dismal time being an Irish Fan:( Despite an utter failure in 07 with minimal improvements in 08…It is comforting and exciting to see such a passionate and gritty coach on the sidelines!
    While the loss of guys like Clausen, Tate and Floyd would be sad, you cannot blame them for wanting to get in while the irons hot…especially given Jimmys chances of winning the Heisman!
    But the team spirit and desire to shut the naysayers down tells me that none of these guys are gonna split early when they have a very REAL chance to actually make a significant ttle run in 2010!
    It’s a happy day in NDNation…I for one am excited and loud about our team and our coaches! ND is back and I think we’re only a year away from the spotlight once again! GO IRISH!!

  7. Tony Arteaga - Nov 6, 2009 at 12:31 PM

    You have to believe that Notre Dame football is up and coming. This team has a goal of bringing back the tradition of Notre Dame football. The players and coaches are a family with pride and conviction to bring clarity to the doubtful. The air isn’t filled with “selfish attitude”.
    Just as the team would love to see Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate be sucessful, Jimmy and Golden would love to see a sucessful team.

  8. Tony Arteaga - Nov 6, 2009 at 12:51 PM

    Well said Father, we tend to associate the hollywood and glamour only on the NFL”s side and quickly forget the pampering that goes on at the admission level.

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