in the not too distant past i felt college football was a travesty. we have the ncaa policing all the athletes/programs to make sure the players remain amateur. no payola. no agents. etc.
but my opinion then was . . . why? they're essentially being paid to play football. scholarships for tuition, books, room, food, a stipend for clothing. isn't that equal to getting paid. consider that a year in a major college would cost the non-scholarship student somewhere between 15-20 grand. and that's not including meals! so these guys are already paid performers.
and if the ncaa is so diligent about policing these things, laying down penalties for schools violating the codes, players violating the codes, how does a fellow like reggie bush move his family on up to the eastside? without any penalty whatsoever? ok, pete carroll didn't know his family was being lavished. usc didn't know his family was being lavished. but they certainly lived in a nicer neighborhood when reggie played at usc than they had when he was recruited. don't you think that would make one suspicious?
and football and the ncaa aren't the only guilty parties. i've been asking for a while how lebron james, back in high school, could possible afford to drive a hummer. the son of a single mom, working to support her family, and he drove a hummer? no ncaa to police high school sports, i guess. but doesn't that smack of some sort of payola?
back to college football . . . and back to the way i used to feel . . . college football is fundamentally a professional environment. the players get paid, either in cash (yeah, they get money, but that's legal because they have jobs. one scholarship athlete told me he was given a job by the college when he first got there - turning the lights off at the tennis courts every night. He got paid fairly well for challenging endeavor. particularly considering the lights were on a timer, and, if he remembered to do so, all he had to do was look out his dorm window at 10 pm to make sure the timers were functioning. and if he forgot, or wasn't in to do so, the maintenance folks would take care of it.)
so i felt that athletic scholarships at colleges and universities should be eliminated. entirely. let the players, football and others, go into a minor league situation (i know, football doesn't really have one, but eliminate scholarships and one would start up real quick.) and learn their trade there. let the college teams field players from among the enrolled students. quit filling classrooms with athletes, a good portion of which don't care about the education offered, but just the stepping stone to bigger, better things. (and if you don't agree with that, look at college basketball, and the number of players that play one season and then opt out to the nba.)
the argument i got, mostly, was that college sports bring big bucks to the colleges. tv rights, gate receipts, merchandise revenues, etc. my argument back was . . . so, that money is spent on scholarships, facilities, recruiting expenses, etc. in essence, the money generated by college sporting programs goes back to the sporting program, not to the college in general to fund, if you can imagine, educating students?
but my stance softened a couple of years ago. i began to enjoy watching college football. hard not to when you're in oklahoma. it's on the forefront of everyone's mind. i've liked watching the sooners and sam bradford and bob stoops coaching. but now the sooners are faltering. badly. and watching perhaps the worst performance i've seen by a team of this calibre last night i began to wonder how this could happen. and then it hit me.
landry jones, highly recruited, highly touted high school athlete out of new mexico, and heir apparent to the ou quarterback slot with the departure of heisman winning sam bradford, put on what has to be the worst display of ineptitude i've ever seen by a big school college quarterback. and during the second half of the game i'm wondering why stoops would stick with this guy. don't we have a third string quarterback we can play rather than this guy? and then i realized the truth. ou has way too much invested in this kid to bench him. doing that would damage the recruiting reputation of the school itself. the alumni would question the move. and perhaps a few of the next alumni donated dollars would go elsewhere. to charity, for chrissakes. or somewhere. can't have that happening.
so now i'm back to my original feeling about college football, and other college sporting endeavors. let the educations be doled out to those that really want them, and let the athletes get their grooming in a minor league environment. amateur athletes? not on your life.