With the impending issue of a religious idiot practicing his first amendment rights, and seeing how Cousin Pat and Co. has delved into the issue fully, I thought I'd take another opportunity to break up the week with a little more college football talk. And given the seriousness of what's going on in my backyard in Florida, I figured I'd take a stab at addressing, in part at least, the sanctions the NCAA recently delivered to one of football's marquee programs, USC.
For those that don't know, USC had been handed a fairly aggressive punishment for Reggie Bush's semi-amatuer status during his tenure as a Trojan.
First, they had to vacate 14 wins from the '04-'05 seasons. Second, they lose 10 scholarships a year for the next 3 years. Lastly, they have a 2 year postseason ban from all bowls including the national championship.
While it seems like pretty rigid penalties were justly handed down to evil-doers doing evil things, the thing that bothers me is that a whole lot of folks are getting punished that had nothing to do with the crime at hand.
If you look at the college football "student-athlete" landscape, there are roughly 200 players that leave early/graduate towards jobs in the NFL. That averages to less than 2 players per Division 1 team. While of coarse elite programs routinely send 7-10 former students to success in the pros, that leaves about 50 players on the active roster that are assured virtually NO chance of advancing to the next level. This vast majority of football players are actually receiving the intended benefits given to these "student athletes" of the universities they attend and are given a chance at a better life not had any other way. Hence, by restricting the available scholarships a program can use, there is WAY more punishment doled out to the individual poor athlete than the possible boost that athlete can provide his program.
As far as the bowls go, that is actually a punishment on the sport itself. The infractions on this USC team had nothing to do with any athlete currently associated with the team. Bush was gone before the current seniors even graduated high school, nevermind the underclassmen. Football is a grueling, tough sport that requires hard work and discipline from every player, wither you are at Alcorn State or Alabama, and the fact that these guys on USC are being punished for something that happened before they even committed to the school seems like the wrong direction to me.
I say, if you look at the crime in hand, it's obviouly about money.(no $h#!) Who benefitted ultimately from this fiasco? Three parties come to mind.
First, the name at the top of the NCAA report Reggie Bush. As blatently as he flaunted his ill-gotten gains(Christ, he was driving Hummers and he was wearing diamond earings you could see in the dark with), you can't really blame a teenager who basically lived in a tree from trying to give his family a better life. He even TOTALLY screwed the agents(They benefits he received came from a management firm that he didn't sign with and they want thier money back. That was what got the snowball rolling in the first place), I'll throw him a bone. I've got no ideas on this one. Dude was dirt poor. What would you do? What he did is obviously wrong, but I've got nothing(solutions welcome).
Second, the USC program. They received endless dollars from merchandising and the brass ring, the bowl purses. For this, I have an elegant solution. Instead of non-participation, I say no money. They've already received millions upon millions, so I say they pay their own expenses, and get NO money from any bowl they, or any Pac-10 representative, plays in. And I'm talking long term. 10 years, no dinero. This way the folks in Southern California who saw dude with his Hummer and friggin flashlight in his ear are the ones that eat the bullet, not the kids currently attending and paying the price for a crime they weren't even present for.
Third, Pete Carroll. I know it's speculation on my part, but that was some special timing on his part to cut and run juuuuussst before the hammer came down. This guy was offered plum pro jobs on an annual basis, then right before the place he works for gets crushed, he hauls ass to the Seattle Seahawks? Shenanigans. He had to know bad things were coming to make such a timely move as that. He was there the whole time, and he is reaping all the benefits and paying no price. It's a story we all know as too familiar. This is where USC fans should be screaming for satisfaction. NCAA coaches apparently are bulletproof. They can prison-screw a program, and as long as they leave before lightening hits, all they get is a pay raise. Bull. There just has to be a way to cut these fakers down, because as long as they keep getting raises, who the hell could blame them?
Like i said before, cheating will always be present in college football, but maybe if we actually rooted out the truly guilty, there would be more of an incentive on coaches and universities alike to keep it at a as low a level as possible, as well as not punishing the innocent.