A new football league plans to launch next year that aims to become a viable alternative to college football.
According to a report from the Washington Post, Pacific Pro Football will be a 4-team league that is restricted to players less than four years removed from high school — read: college kids — that will pay its players an average of $50,000 in salary and pay for tuition and books at a local community college. The teams will be centered in southern California, and the league expects to kick off in 2018 with a 6- or 8-game season running in July and August.
While a number of alternative football leagues to the NFL have been launched over the past 50 years, this is the first aimed at providing a platform for college players. Pacific Pro Football also arrives with a strong backing: longtime NFL coach Mike Shanahan, former NFL official and current FOX officiating analyst Mike Pereira, former NFL executive Jim Steeg, former NFL wide receiver Ed McCaffrey, political strategist Steve Schmidt and ESPN NFL reporter Adam Schefter are on the league’s advisory board. NFL agent Don Yee will serve as commissioner.
While Pacific Pro Football will not have an official relationship with the NFL, the idea is to give players an avenue to the league outside of the traditional college route.
“As I’ve thought about this and studied it for years, I felt that it would be terrific if these emerging football players had a choice in determining how they wanted to get better at their craft,” Yee told the Washington Post.
Pacific Pro Football launches at an interesting time, soon after high-profile prospects Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey opted out of their teams’ bowl games to prepare for the NFL Draft — amid much controversy.
While it’s unlikely players of that caliber would sit out an entire season for a $50,000 salary, Pacific Pro Football figures to be a viable option for players who for one reason or another don’t fit in the college football system but would still like to play football professionally.
The question, then, would become if Pacific Pro Football would target high profile high school recruits to skip college altogether to use Pacific Pro Football as their alternative to MLB’s farm system.
Here’s what Yee said to Vice Sports on competing with college football:
There’s no question that there is tremendous interest—as evidenced by successful web businesses—in emerging football talent. ESPN devotes an entire day to National Letter of Intent signings. People follow high school football talent and where it goes, and follow that talent earlier and earlier. We feel that giving the talent an opportunity and choice to professionalize earlier may bring along that fan interest.
In addition to helping players develop for the NFL, Pacific Pro Football also aims to help coaches and officials progress their careers toward the NFL.