Pretty much everything was asked about during the three days of press conferences during Super Bowl week. Few answers were as good as the Seahawks' Richard Sherman and Michael Bennett on the NCAA, which Bennett called "one of the biggest scams in America."
"I don't think college athletes are given enough time to really take advantage of the free education that they're given, and it's frustrating because a lot of people get upset with student-athletes and say they're not focused on school and they're not taking advantage of the opportunity they're given.
"I would love for a regular student to have a student-athlete's schedule during the season for just one quarter or one semester and show me how you balance that. Show me how you would schedule your classes when you can't schedule classes from 2-to-6 o'clock on any given day. Show me how you're going to get all your work done when after you get out at 7:30 or so, you've got a test the next day, you're dead tired from practice and you still have to study just as hard as everybody else every day and get all the same work done.
"[T]hose aren't the things that people focus on when talking about student-athletes. They are upset when a student-athlete says they need a little cash. Well, I can tell you from experience, I had negative-40 bucks in my account. Usually my account was in the negative more time than it was in the positive. You've got to make decisions on whether you get gas for your car or whether you get a meal for the day. You've got one of the two choices. People think, 'Oh, you're on scholarship.' They pay for your room and board, they pay for your education, but to their knowledge, you're there to play football. You're not on scholarship for school and it sounds crazy when a student-athlete says that, but that's those are the things coaches tell them every day: 'You're not on scholarship for school.'"
"I think the NCAA is one of the biggest scams in America, because these kids put so much on the line, and they study hard, they play football as hard as they can, but if they don't crack the NFL, then [the NCAA] says, 'We gave you a free degree.' That's like me owning a restaurant and saying, 'I'll give you a free burger.'...I'm just giving you something I already have. Athletes don't get enough credit, and a lot of the schools don't really do anything for the guys after they graduate. I think there are very few schools that actually care about the players.
"Guys break their legs and they get the worst surgeries you could possibly get, they see the worst doctors, they get the worst treatment, then they're stuck with injuries for the rest of their life, and to say that you get a degree doesn't mean anything to me.
"I think the NCAA should come up with a plan for college athletes to receive some of the money they bring in for the schools. I think my school, Texas A&M, averaged $50 million just on jersey sales. They sell numbers of guys that don't have names on the back of the jerseys, but we all know who No. 2 is for College Station: Johnny Manziel, he makes so much for the university but he doesn't see any of the money.
"They need to come up with some kind of program. I would say, maybe $60,000 for every year you stay in college, and then at the end of the year they keep in some kind of 401k. You stay in college, you graduate, you keep that money until you're a certain age, and then after that you get that money and you get to determine what you want to do with it. And that gives you the chance to do something special in life, because you give so much to the schools, and they just move on.
"Of course, they can pay Jim Harbaugh $48 million because they don't have to pay any of the athletes. The athletes are the ones that make the school, it's not really the coach. If Nick Saban doesn't have those athletes that he has, can he still be Alabama?
"When I was in college, I'd be going to class, some student comes to me and says 'I pay your tuition.' I'm like, you don't pay my damn tuition. My mom paid my tuition when she worked two jobs, and I woke up every morning at 6 a.m. and I worked hard. To think about it, it makes me so mad and irate that people are so simple-minded when it comes to something like that."