Published Wednesday, September 25, 2013 AT 11:33 PM / Updated at 1:20 AM
Last Call: Ernie and Delany edition
Tom Shatel Omaha World-Herald

I crossed off a Nebraska journalist bucket list item the other day. I interviewed Sen. Ernie Chambers.

I’ve always wanted to meet and interview the legendary Chambers. And there seemed like no better time than now, with everyone, including Jim Delany, talking about pay-for-play in college sports.

Chambers was ahead of this story. Like, way ahead. Like, 1981.

The interview will be in my Thursday column on It’s one of my favorite interviews. But I wish I could have asked Ernie about Delany’s comments, which came out on Wednesday night.

The Big Ten commish, via the Big Ten beat guys for, talked about the topic du jour. His take, summed up: Provide the kids who want/need money with a “D” League of college football, a minor league if you will, and let the kids who want to go to college for an education go to college.

It’s an intriguing idea, with some merit: go to developmental league, train and grow and learn to be a pro, then get drafted. Kids who don’t belong in college don’t go there. It was the basis of Chambers’ argument, all the way back to 1981.

It will certainly gain some support around the Big Ten, which has been more about the college experience than the chase for the national title.

But will this fly in the SEC? The Big 12? I don’t think so. ACC? Good question. Pac-12? Maybe. Maybe not.

What about Nebraska?

Would Husker fans be okay with the best talent available going to a D League team rather than Lincoln? What if Randy Gregory or Tommy Armstrong chose the D League option?

I don’t know the answer to that. I think Delany’s proposal, if that’s what it is, will turn some heads. But I think it has a long way to go to gain universal acceptance. I can’t see the schools who care about the national championship, and being in the top 10, etc., signing off on this.

What if there was a one-and-done rule for college football? Would that even work considering the developmental aspect of the game?

Sounds like a column for another day. For now, enjoy Ernie and the day he’s been waiting for: a national debate for pay-for-play, with serious folks taking the topic seriously.

About Tom Shatel

Tom Shatel is a columnist for The Omaha World-Herald. You can get in touch with Tom on Twitter (@tomshatelOWH), or send him an email at