Why college football makes me feel gross

I’m fully convinced that the only way to truly enjoy college football is to live life completely blind to to the truth.

You need to love the band and the cheerleaders. You need to believe that the coach is a teacher and a leader and is constantly honest. And the players — whoops, I mean student-athletes — are upstanding, law abiding young men who value the educational opportunities and play for the love of the game.

If you do that, then maybe it is easy to get caught up in the spectacle that is college football.

It just seems to me, however, that the more you learn about the system, the harder it is to like it. We’ve had several weeks of lesser bowl games that cost schools money (and sometimes money they don’t have). On Tuesday night, Ohio State will have a quarterback and other starters who have been suspended for five games, somehow get to play in the Sugar Bowl. Next week, we have a quarterback in the championship game who was at least shopped by his father.

And that’s just the stuff we know about.

I generally like college football more than the NFL. I like the wall-to-wall games on Saturdays, especially watching late night Pac-10 games. But I find it harder and harder to stomach all of the hypocrisy.

This is the part of this post where if you really do believe in honest coaches, rule-abiding players and Santa Claus, you should probably quit reading.

If you at least acknowledge that things might not be above board, then you need to read to things.

First, you need to go out and read the book Death to the BCS. In honor of full disclosure, I am friends with Dan Wetzel, one of the three authors. The book is fantastic. In proposing a system for a 16-team playoff, it basically shreds argument after argument that is made by the BCS.

It examines how the BCS — “the Cartel” — and the bowl season is about power and money more than it is about actual football. It looks at how the bowl season is a financial liability for many of the schools involved. The book also proposes a workable model for a playoff that would make tons of cash while preserving the integrity of the regular season and keeping the vast majority of the bowls.

Now onto the matter of the Sugar Bowl. I don’t really get the whole thing. The NCAA loves to live in a world of black or white. Rules were broken or rules were not. I don’t understand this whole you can play now but you have to sit out next season.

Not surprisingly, Wetzel killed it with a wonderful Terrelle Pryor column.

He sums it up quite well here:

“While Pryor has received most of the criticism, you can only blame him so much for either breaking or putting himself in danger of breaking NCAA rules that the very administrators he earns huge salaries appear to care little about. A rule is only as strong as the consequences and from his school, to his conference, to his bowl game, to the NCAA itself, there’s no lack of positioning to avoid real penalties.

If the adults don’t take the rules seriously, why should the players?

At this point, Pryor is set to play Tuesday but miss nearly half of next season. (Ohio State is appealing, of course). Meanwhile the entire absurdity of his situation churns on. The school wants its star player on the field. The bowl wants its money. ESPN wants its TV rating. The league wants a victory over the SEC.

Perhaps only Gordon Gee, Jim Delany a few assorted BCS reps believe Terrelle Pryor is an actual eligible student-athlete at this point. At least if you applied the NCAA rules as they previously had been enforced for decades.

Everyone else is expected to play pretend, ignore the man behind the curtain and eagerly await the next chapter of the Terrelle “The Truth” Pryor Show. First he gets to run and throw, then, hopefully, he gets to keep talking.

We’ll gladly loan him our car all next season if he’ll stick around and continue exposing this charade. Let the unwitting whistle-blower play on and on and on.”

I can’t imagine my guy Wetzel is very popular these days with Big Ten commish Jim Delany. But it does make for some good reading.

Will I watch the Buckeyes and Arkansas? Maybe a little. But I’ll need a shower afterwards.




3 thoughts on “Why college football makes me feel gross

  1. Nice piece…after covering two last week, I’ve had to convince myself to turn a blind eye. As with all capitalist plots, these things have a tendancy to even out. Cheers!

  2. If that doesn’t make you feel gross you should watch the ESPN 30 for 30 on the “Pony Expre$$” about the early 80’s SMU teams. Yuck!

  3. Great post. I love college football, but it’s sort of like eating at your favorite greasy spoon. The food is great, but you’d hate to know what goes on in the kitchen. Agree that Death to the BCS is an absolute must read. Two recent ESPN 30/30 pieces “Pony Excess” and “The Best That Never Was” are also brilliant reminders of what goes on in the kitchen. I’m glad Wetzel, Passan and Peter are among the scribes willing to call out the current powers that be.

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