One-and-dones in college football?
Jim Harbaugh believes it's time.
In an open letter to the football community released Thursday, Harbaugh proposed a plan whereby college football players would have the freedom to enter the NFL whenever they feel the time is right. Under current rules, a player must be at least three years removed from high school to make the transition to the pros.
Harbaugh's plan also grants a player the option to return to school if he enters the NFL Draft and isn't selected. Furthermore, a player who does leave school early has the option of completing his degree while in the NFL or returning to school once his career is over, at the expense of his university.
"Such a policy promotes higher education as a top priority," Harbaugh writes.
In addition, Harbaugh proposes allowing a player and his family to consult with agents prior to potentially signing a contract, so long as the player doesn't receive compensation.
Harbaugh believes his proposal would help student-athletes maximize their potential both athletically and academically.
"There are 'early bloomers,' capable of competing in the NFL and earning a livelihood at an earlier age. The goal would be to create a scenario that makes adjustments for all current and future student‐athletes that puts the timeline for transition to professional football at their discretion and that of their family," Harbaugh writes. "I propose an option that allows them to make the decision that is best for them."
Harbaugh says the goal is for student-athletes to have options both on and off the field.
"The average pro career is three to four years," he writes. "When a players’ pro career is complete, he could return to college to finish his degree. He is then not denied his professional opportunity and is more mature and likely more motivated to finish his college education and receive his degree. ... This option creates a scenario more likely for more young men to have reached thirty having earned both a pro career and a college degree.
"The proposal described above would allow the individual to pursue his dream as a student and as a professional athlete in the time frame that best suits his best interests of his own free will and ability."
The full letter is below.