I don’t believe anyone questions the Service Academies (which should include the Coast Guard and Merchant Marine Academies) being institutions where College Football is secondary to the true mission of the school. No one attends these schools with the idea of becoming a professional sports athlete. They go there to study their degree discipline, organizational management, military history, and organizational leadership. All of these Academies are the most selective post secondary institutions in the world.
Their fielding of sports teams that compete with FBS Schools is only based on tradition. They, unlike the Ivy League who left that is FBS decades ago, made a choice to stay and compete again the schools they felt were the best. Generally, they tend to lose a lot playing P5 schools; but every so often they find magic and have a stellar season. AFA had a stellar season, and props to them on it.
To the dumpster fire that is the whole NIL/Transfer Portal, I agree it is a pure cluster. That stated, I remember a book I read several decades ago myna sport agent where he called out the myth of College Football. To sum the simple stuff, did you know Jim Thorpe and Joe Gipp got paid by their respective Universities to play football? To his credit, at least Thorpe went to class. To players getting paid, the under the table crap has been going on forever, and occasionally a university here and there got caught doing it - the most famous case being SMU. When you look at any number of Universities in the P5, payola was the name of the game. After watching Untold: Johnny Football and Swamp Kings, it is fair to say the profiteering the Universities and the NCAA was doing on the performance of athletes was obscene - even when under the table is considered. Unsavory? Absolutely! No Question!
NIL created a marketplace for kids to get paid above board. It’s ugly, it’s messy, and it needs reform. The
Portal just adds fuel to the fire. A lot of these kids aren’t looking at a post athletics future away from football or basketball. They think they will be playing in the NFL or NBA. Some Universities have programs that do a better job than other schools to prepare players for that. Even in those places, the odds are long. Though one thing is for sure, if you aren’t playing with the first string om Saturday, you sure as hell won’t be playing on Sunday. After these years now with the portal, all it has really done is get players off rosters who were generally unhappy without cutting them. We have seen a few success stories from people changing schools (I.e. Bo Nix, Cam Rising), but the vast majority never get picked up by another school - at any level. Some could say had they stayed, done the work, studied and graduated to a new career they would’ve been better off; but as hindsight is 20/20, it’s unfair to the kid who wants to chase the dream. They can always decide to finish their education if they really want it.
Yes the whole thing sucks, and sucks some of the fun out. That said, kids having dreams is what it’s all about in the end. Winning it all is great, but as the system this season is pretty rigged, and next season it will still be rigged - only different, I choose the cheer the kids living their dream.