Afternoon Links: Pay your dues

What we’re reading. Submit links via Twitter.

  • The idea of a college players’ union is a fantastic idea in theory for a whole host of obvious reasons. But it starts to break down in practice, though, as the petition filed on behalf of Northwestern football players Monday -- broken by ESPN’s Outside the Lines -- demonstrates. Passages like “only Division I FBS football players and men's basketball players the athletes at the center of the commercial enterprise will be eligible to join CAPA” and “any decision in favor of the players against Northwestern would apply to all private universities across the country in the FBS [but would not] apply to public universities, which are governed by state laws” kind of tell you all you need to know. It’s a mess. But hey: If it starts the conversation in earnest, that’s a net positive for those involved.

  • “It seems like the system really isn't teaching players anything, if you go to college,” Kobe Bryant said. “If you go to college, you play, you showcase, and you come to the pros.” With that, defenders of college basketball quickly tossed their capes on and flew in to rescue the sport, via Twitter, from that criticism, which wasn't surprising. In fairness, though, it also wasn't unwarranted because the idea that college coaches aren't "teaching players anything" is obviously silly, and Bryant is smart enough to know that, I'm certain. So why did Bryant say what he said? My guess is he simply misspoke while making a larger point. And the larger point he made was spot-on and worth examining. -- CBS’s Gary Parrish goes on to do just that. And he’s right.

  • USC has a DJ now? True story: “DJ Mal Ski plays music and interacts with fans during timeouts at all [USC] men's games and select women's games and [associate athletic director Craig] Kelley believes he has helped the Trojans win games. He said an assistant coach for Cal told a member of his staff last week that he believed DJ Mal Ski got in the heads of some of his players during Enfield's first Pac-12 Conference victory.”

  • Did you know Wake Forest hasn’t lost a home game this season? I did not, but Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim is making sure his team -- which plays at Wake Wednesday night -- is well aware.

  • To win the Big Ten, Iowa coach Fran McCaffery says, “you’ve got to go through Michigan State.” The Hawkeyes have an excellent chance to do so in Iowa City tonight.