The 2010 college football season is now underway, but it isn't electrifying touchdowns or bone-jarring tackles that has fans talking, coaches complaining and players watching their collective backs.
No, the most talked about storyline of this year's college football season has been the one thing that the players aren't allowed to have, but somehow always seem to get: Money.
The University of North Carolina football team had to play in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic here in Atlanta without their best player—defensive tackle Marvin Austin—because of his illicit pursuit of it.
And that's just in the last two weeks.
Over the past decade, there have been numerous cases involving some high-profile programs and players that have resulted in exhaustive investigations, mass suspensions and ultimate probation.
Although collegiate athletes have been redefining the term "amateur athlete" for years, it appears that now, more than ever, the question has to be asked: Should college athletes be paid?
In my opinion, the answer is yes.
Some of the country's largest Universities have athletic programs that are worth hundreds of millions of dollars and generate millions more in annual revenue—in 2009, the University of Georgia's athletic program reported $76,278,280 in total revenue.
Administrators, coaches and just about everyone else besides the athletes themselves are the direct beneficiaries of the profit that is generated mostly by their on-field/on-court performances.
Sure, there's the argument that a college scholarship is enough—perhaps even too much—compensation for collegiate athletes.
While I agree that value of a free education should not be taken lightly, the fact that schools, and the NCAA itself, continue to profit off of 18-22-year-old
student-athletes and then reprimand those same student-athletes so severely if they pursue any kind of profit themselves seems hypocritical.
I'm not suggesting that we start paying college athletes multi-million dollar salaries, but offering them a tiny sliver of the NCAA's billion dollar pie might dissuade them from acquiring extra cash illegally.
University alumni and boosters are notorious for providing college athletes with the occasional "handshake hundred" or the under-the-table paper bag stuffed with cash and even a fake job at a car dealership.
Wouldn't just paying these athletes solve all of these problems?
What do you think? Should college athletes be paid or is a scholarship and the opportunity to sleep through class enough of a benefit? Share your thoughts below or on Twitter @SportsLoaf and Facebook.com/CLSports.
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