Friday, November 11, 2011

College football has been headed for ruin for 25 years

If college football under goes some major changes in the near future, don’t blame Joe Paterno, Penn State or even the slug - Jerry Sandusky. As tv contracts grew, stadiums got bigger and coaches salaries have out stripped university president’s by 10-20 times, College football has been getting more and more unmanageable.

At this point, at least at the Division 1-A level, I don’t even know why football teams are associated with universities. A large percentage of players are recruited outside what could reasonably considered the university’s sphere of influence. A large percentage of players don’t graduate. Yet, the university will heap great rewards on young men for pitching a “bag of wind” around for 3 hours on Saturday.

TV money is what the universities are chasing, plain and simple. In order to get that money the team has be good enough to play in a national broadcast in primetime and get to a BCS bowl game. If they are that good, tens of millions of dollars roll into a university. Add to all that a different weekly uniform set ups for the team that can be hawked to alumni for 100 times what they cost the university 10 minutes after the game.

So the university goes out and hires a coach for 5 million, plus tv endorsements and a bonus for winning 6 games that gets a team “bowl eligible”, and bonus for a BCS appearance, and a bonus for winning the bowl game, and these big time coaches may be pulling down 8 figures.

So these big time coaches go out a scour the landscape looking for talent to bring to the university, not for its mathematics program, but rather to pitch the pigskin around. If he does it well enough, he wins games and makes a ton of money. But the university makes tons and tons and tons of money. So it’s a worthwhile endeavor all around.

And many of the kids recruited to play couldn’t care less about university outside the ability of it getting them noticed for how far they can throw a pig’s bladder. They live in separate dorms, eat in separate facilities, attend classes only between 1:30 and 4:00 in the afternoon and are given tutors to help them keep up with their arduous schedule of toenail clipping 101, PE 780 and Finger Art 230. Then as soon as their eligibility runs out, a large percentage are gone. As a result we end up with the Cam Newtons, Maurice Clarets and host of others selling their wares to the highest bidder. That doesn't mean these young are not loyal to the team.  Many are, just not the university.

And just an aside, at least two great stadiums were ruined in pursuit of putting a few more butt cheeks in seats at $40-$70 a spot. The house that Knute built at Notre Dame was rebuilt and in the process ruined by greedy trustees trying to gouge a bit more money out of the system. History and tradition be damned. They needed the money. The Horseshoe at The Ohio State University was a unique and classic building. Now after $105 million in “improvements” it looks like crap. And who benefited from all of the add ons? Was the university looking to cram more students in at $20 a head? Hell no. The new capacity all went to high rollers outside the student body.

And keeps going. A lot people are PO’d at the BCS process. They want a playoff. So do all of the sports commentators, as well as the idiot in the Oval Office. Why? Well it means more money for the networks. And the schools think, well, if we can just get Nick Saben away from AL we can compete for that money, and the cycle repeats.

There is so much money involved with so little control, it has to be corrupt. And that is what happened at Penn State, in my opinion. Sandusky could not be dealt with straight up because it would hurt the university in recruiting which would cause a slide in performance which would mean a loss of dollars. It’s that simple. It appeared to be a better, cheaper option to cover the scandal up than to deal with it.

Well, it isn’t any more. But college football has been rolling down a track, accelerating every year, to its own ruin for 25 years. Jerry Sandusky is just the latest most pitiful example of a system that is out of control.

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