I officially have a man crush on Jim Harbaugh.

No one — absolutely no one — does spite quite like Harbs. And I’m here for it, baby.

“The status quo is unacceptable,” Harbaugh said earlier this week, in reference to revenue sharing between billion dollar college sports conferences and their athletes.

Which is to say, there is none. Now everyone is going to hear about it from Big Jim.

“I don’t think this current system is going to survive,” Harbaugh said.

Not if he has anything to say about it.

Not if he still has a bully pulpit and a strong voice, and the bile in his gut for all things NCAA.

The same NCAA that branded him a cheater for impermissible contact with players during the COVID season. The NCAA also called him a liar, when he allegedly wasn’t completely forthcoming to investigators.

What does this have to do with revenue sharing, you ask? Sit tight, everyone.

Here. We. Go.

The NCAA called Harbaugh a cheater and a liar. Do you really think he’s going to let that die on the vine and walk away quietly?

So Harbs — who in years past has spoken about paying players, but has softened the blow by promoting all things college experience and its untold value — decided earlier this week he’d stand on that soapbox and change it all. There’s only 1 way to hit back at the NCAA: the wallet.

Harbaugh then pulled back the curtain on the biggest sham in the history of college sports: the amateur model.

Three simple words, with the weight of decades of stealing.

What else can you call it when conferences sign multibillion dollar media rights deals, and the NCAA signs a multibillion dollar deal for the glorified gambling exercise that is the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments (thereby bastardizing a great sport for greed) — and players receive the cost of a scholarship and a measly stipend every semester?

For decades we’ve heard how “development” and “sports nutrition” had value, and how players receive “elite coaching” and an opportunity to earn a degree that will “open doors” after their playing days.

How utterly stupid does that sound now?

Because without elite high school players who become college stars, those sports programs aren’t earning billions in television revenue. And their universities aren’t cashing those checks.

No one wants to watch fraternity flag football, which is exactly what we’d see if college sports went to a non-scholarship model, like former Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany famously said in the early 2000s when player empowerment was in its infancy.

FBS football without elite high school players is the USFL or XFL. It’s football, but it’s not worth your time. Or money.

The days of universities hoarding media rights cash and players receiving crumbs are over.

“When student-athletes call it a game, corporate types call it a business. When the student-athletes call it a business, corporate types call it a game,” Harbaugh said in his best North Dallas Forty voice — which is huge, huge bonus points (NSFW).

“What I don’t understand is how the NCAA, the television networks, the conferences, the universities and coaches can continue to pull in millions, and in some cases billions, of dollars of revenue off the efforts of student-athletes across the country without providing enough opportunities to share in the ever-increasing revenue.”

Nick Saban has talked about paying players for a few years but not specifically sharing revenue. Kirby Smart said during SEC Media Days that he sees revenue sharing on the horizon.

One by one, the big guns of college coaching are coming out and speaking about the inequities of billion dollar television deals vs. the cost of a scholarship. And before we go further, don’t even try to connect NIL and revenue sharing.

The NCAA didn’t give players their NIL — players should’ve had it in the first place. Criminalizing use of NIL was illegal, and the NCAA somehow got away with it for decades.

Just like they’ve gotten away with hoarding all the media rights cash.

Beginning in 2024, the Power 4 conferences alone — SEC, Big Ten, ACC, Big 12 — will earn nearly $3 billion annually in media rights deals, and that doesn’t include a new 12-team Playoff that will command another estimated billion annually.

When a new Playoff contract is negotiated to start in 2026 — the same 12-team model — that annual number will skyrocket. They’ll go to market and sell the Playoff to multiple media partners, including a standalone national championship game.

By 2026, with the escalating numbers in both the SEC and Big Ten deals, and the new Playoff deal, the annual take home for the Power 4 conferences (and the Group of 5 conferences) will be close to $5 billion annually.

But hey, players have “development” and “sports nutrition” and “open doors” after graduation. That, and a $5,000 a semester stipend. And, you know, a scholarship.


It’s coming, everyone. It may not be the near 50-50 split the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement delivered, but it will be close. The United States Supreme Court laid down the gauntlet 2 years ago when voting 9-0 against the NCAA in the ongoing dispute of player compensation.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote for the majority: “Traditions alone cannot justify the NCAA’s decision to build a massive money-raising enterprise on the backs of student athletes who are not fairly compensated. Nowhere else in America can businesses get away with agreeing not to pay their workers a fair market rate on the theory that their product is defined by not paying their workers a fair market rate.”

What exactly do universities think SCOTUS will do when faced with a lawsuit brought by the plaintiffs (see: players), demanding a fair share of media rights revenue?

“I didn’t wake up this morning and decide to share this,” Harbaugh said.

Which, of course, means it’s exactly what he decided to do.

The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Or in this case, eventually leads to a group of attorneys to file a suit for players against the NCAA and Power 4 conferences.

They called him a cheater and a liar.

But we all know who the real cheats are — and their day is coming.