Listen to college football players about the good and bad of a playoff

Alabama offensive lineman Barrett Jones stated, "It really does take a physical toll on your body, especially playing in this league where we're not spreading out and passing it 50 times a game." Last month, the NCPA called for some of the new playoff mo

Jon Solomon
July 21, 2012

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- You've heard from the suits, the coaches and the talking heads (myself included) about the four-team college football playoff.

Now hear from the players who are sacrificing their bodies for another game to entertain us.

Here are four players. They'll all be out of college by 2014. They've all won a national title. Two like a playoff; two have serious reservations.

Listen to them, college football.

You'll be hard-pressed to find a smarter football player than Alabama offensive lineman Barrett Jones. He's concerned over how many games are too many.

"That's a question I've really wrestled with," Jones said. "I don't want there to be so many games where it really starts taking away from the game for college athletes -- student-athletes, at that. I think 14's a lot. Fifteen, I guess now, is the max. If you get too many more, it starts becoming like an NFL-like season. I think the way they have it now is good. This is what the fans are calling for."

Jones said expanding the playoffs any more would be a mistake.

"It really does take a physical toll on your body, especially playing in this league where we're not spreading out and passing it 50 times a game," he said. "We're running it right up the middle."

Alabama defensive lineman Damion Square loves that a playoff is coming.

"I guess some people weren't too happy to see two Southeastern Conference teams compete in the national championship game," Square said. "To be honest with you, I didn't think that would ever happen in college football history. But it did happen. I guess a kink in the system, to say the least, and they're trying to adjust that and create this playoff system."

Square thinks he could have easily played another game after Alabama defeated LSU last January.

"Especially with the feeling I had after the national championship game," Square said. "I was ready to play another game. I don't know if other guys felt the same way, but I could have played three more if they wanted to."

Alabama tight end Michael Williams is one of those other guys who disagrees.

"That's why I'd say I didn't want a playoff," Williams said. "A 12-game SEC schedule, your body is terrible. I don't feel like that's good for the players."

Auburn defensive end Corey Lemonier views a playoff as a better way to determine the best team.

"It gives a chance to everybody," he said. "Some teams go undefeated and get gypped out of going to the playoffs because a team is, like, bigger TV-wise, like Alabama and LSU. It feels like that. I feel like having the four teams will really help that."

Lemonier doesn't mind an extra game because the season is so long anyway.

"It gets to the point where it's just routine," he said. "You know what you've got to do each week (to physically be ready). Every week is going to be hard. One extra game won't really mean much difference to me."

More than 80 percent of football players involved with the National College Players Association favored a playoff in an old survey, NCPA President Ramogi Huma said. He notes that occurred before potential long-term health issues related to concussions gained more traction with the public.

If college football had the guts, 11 regular-season games would return to counter conference championships, with playoffs added on the back end. Of course, there's too much money to be lost by the 12th game for that to happen.

"I think players are raising their eyebrows a little bit," Huma said. "It's hard to go backwards with the number of games. We understand TV contracts. But the playoff makes a stronger case to have some immediate action to alleviate some risks."

Last month, the NCPA called for some of the new playoff money to fund concussion research. The NCPA also wants the NCAA to follow the Ivy League and NFL trend of cutting back on practices in pads.

Huma hasn't heard back from anyone. "We're going to continue to press as they decide how to divide the playoff money," he said.

The players deserve a voice. Listen to it.