I have a secret. For the last four years, I've been playing fantasy college football and we've been using all the players names. For the first year, I worried that the NCAA was going to shut down the online service we use in mid-season because it's an obvious no-no for a service like this to profit off the names of players.
But then it became clear to me that there was a previous court ruling that asserted that names when tied to statistics are not subject to federal copyright law. A judge confirmed that point when Major League Baseball lost its recent case against a fantasy provider that refused to pay a licensing fee to use the players names.
For the past four years, none of the major sites have used college players names, perhaps out of fear that the NCAA would object. But the recent baseball ruling more than suggests than the NCAA doesn't have any power to stop anyone from playing games with the likes of Tim Tebow and Michael Crabtree.
The first big boy to get into the game isCBSSports.com. It's ironic since CBSis the organization that provides more money to the NCAA (through the March Madness television contract) than any other network. The Wall Street Journal reported that the NCAA sent the Web site a letter stating that NCAA bylaws were being violated by using the players "likenesses." But that was the mistake MLB made. Names tied to stats are not likenesses, it's simply relevant math.
Fantasy college football is the only fantasy sport I play. So here's a piece of advice to anyone now looking to get into it. About 75 percent of your ability to win comes in your draft and you win with the picks you make when the top 100 players are exhausted. So unlike any other MLB or NFL league, prepare to study like you never have before. The other part of playing the college football game is that stars emerge in a way that's different from every other sport.
So you choose a hot minor leaguer at the end of your baseball draft for some power in July. That's nothing compared to what happens in college when the depth chart all of a sudden changes and an undrafted second string QB is ripping up the WAC. Finally, you have strength of opponent. In no other sport, do you see such a disparity in opponents in certain weeks that you basically HAVE to play a guy.