College Football Is Sick
As another college football season returns, everyone greets it like a long lost friend who has finally come home. However, I have bad news. Our friend is sick and if things keep up the way they are going, I am afraid its condition is terminal.
Why, you ask? Isn't the sport healthier now than ever due to the TV contracts, social media, recruiting sites, enlarged stadiums, expanded fan bases, ESPN's College Gameday and more teams being in contention than ever before?
Well, as much as you think all those things would make the sport more powerful than ever before, those are the very things that are killing it. Even ESPN produced a series called "Blueprint for Change," because they recognize the sport is going down the tubes.
There are a number of things that are contributing to its demise. Here is a list of items that need to be addressed quickly, or college football will fall the same way the WFL, USFL, and Southwest Conference did.
The Problem: Players breaking rules/laws
In 1963, Bear Bryant got a report that his star quarterback, Joe Namath, was caught breaking team rules by drinking at a bar during the season. Bama had two critical games remaining on their schedule: the season finale against Miami (Moved back due to the assassination of President Kennedy) and if they won, Ole Miss in the Sugar Bowl.
He told the QB, "I could keep you on the team, but then I would have to resign since I would have violated my own rules." Bama sucked it up, won the two games, and the legend of Bear Bryant added another chapter.
Bo Schembechler once suspended star QB Jim Harbaugh because Harbaugh's name was mistakenly reported in a newspaper article about an altercation at a campus bar. It eventually got worked out and he was allowed back on the team, but the moment a team rule even looked like it was violated, Bo tossed the player off the team, no questions asked.
What other coach in today's game would have the stones to do something like that? Why don't we see more of that kind of discipline?
Money. Without the best players, you don't win. You don't win, you don't bring in the bucks. You don't bring in the bucks, you are gone.
The Solution: Have a across the board rule that if you get in trouble with the law, it is a mandatory one year suspension. Don't give me this Chip Kelly crap about suspending a player for the year, then coming back a few weeks later and telling us, "Well, if he adheres to the following conditions…" And you wonder why we have such trouble out of these kids.
For lesser violations like cutting class, or missing curfew, make it half a season. One way or the other, if you take the kids livelihood away, they will fall into line very quickly.
The Problem: Probation
Recently, we have seen issues at Ohio State, Miami, Tennessee, USC, Michigan, North Carolina, Georgia Tech and numerous others that I can't even keep track of.
I know Bear, Bo, Woody and the rest of the old guard of coaches would roll over in their graves if they were here to see what a disgrace the sport has become.
Why do schools cheat? Take one good guess… Money! You have to have the best players, and when others are cheating, you have to do what you can to compete. Because of that, schools bend and break the rules because they do not have any other choice in keeping up with the joneses.
The Solution: Bring back the Death Penalty in full force. Nothing else has seemed to work, since we have school after school going on probation, and it is not a deterrent that it was set up to be. And all those pinko, bleeding hearts who cry, "Oh, the Death Penalty is too severe. We should never do that to another school…" I say tough cookies. You break the rules you pay the price. It is as simple as that.
I say you want to clean up college football, you put that at the top of the list. I guarantee the cheating would stop and we will have taught everyone a valuable lesion on doing things the right way.
The Problem: The Networks
Gone are the days when you got to enjoy your favorite team under the sunshine, or late afternoon lights. What was better than sitting in the cool October sun, light breeze, your significant other sitting next to you sipping whatever you put in your game day cup, watching the game and thinking that it does not get any better than this?
Well, with the expanded TV coverage, which is nice since you can find your team on TV somewhere every week, we have opened a Pandora's Box. College Football sold its soul to the Networks, and now, the Networks dictate when you can watch your favorite team. Did they hire Khrushchev's son on this deal? Sounds a little bit like good old fashioned Communism to me…
Every school is at the mercy of the Networks, who can put a doubleheader on, if they want, Tuesday night at 11pm followed by the a Wednesday morning 1am kickoff, and I am not talking about games at Hawaii. It could happen, and when it does, the rest of us will shake our heads and say, "Wow, I can't believe this." Since it is college football, all of us will get in our PJ's and watch.
Why is this happening? Again, Money. The Networks have invested billions of dollars in the product, and as the old saying goes, "Whoever pays the piper, gets to call the tune."
The Solution: With all the channels available now, spread out the games so they overlap, and it would become January 1st every Saturday. Well, what January 1st used to be, anyway…
Could you imagine the college football overload that would cause every week? It would be pure paradise. The television manufactures would love it since we would have to buy more TV's to watch all the games at once, so we all would win on this deal.
If I had to rank that idea, it would be a close second to seeing Kate Beckinsale in a tight Waffle House waitress uniform. But hey, who wouldn't want that?
The Problem: Technology
As much as Technology is a good thing, in some ways, it can be a killer to your program. How else could we know everything about every school the moment it happens?
Camera phones are everywhere, and when something goes wrong, it is on the Internet for everyone to see. Are things worse now than decades ago when things were hushed up? Maybe, but the pressure to win was not as great, so I say things now are worse, and with all the new technologies out there, we see everything now.
The Solution: Cut out the off the field jocularity, and there won't be anything for the cameras to catch. Remember, nothing good ever happens after midnight, so if you are in bed then, you won't need to worry about having someone catch you doing something you shouldn't.
The Problem: CBS SEC Game of the Week
Yeah, I know this is the lifeblood of the SEC, but you have to acknowledge that Verne Lundquist and his sidekick, Gary Danielson, really should be shown the door.
Verne is one of my favorite announcers, and I have heard he is a great person to work with since he is not a prima donna. However, he is getting old and some of the things he misses, such as names, situations and important elements of the game are a little suspect.
It's not totally Verne's fault. I chalk it up to having to sit next to the King Boob of the SEC, Gary Danielson. Danielson is the quintessential ass kisser who turns an SEC game into four hours of beer cans being hummed at your TV screen, even if your team is winning. I lost count of how many TV's I shot out listening to that Detroit Lions reject slobbering all over Tim Tebow, even when Florida wasn't playing on TV that week.
He was not so complimentary of other players. When LSU's Ricky Jean-Francois made some comments about putting Tebow out of a game, Danielson made sure to call him out when Tebow threw a TD pass early to give Florida a lead. He also said of Tennessee RB, Arian Foster, after a fumble against Auburn that went for a touchdown, "That guy is bad luck. I wouldn't get in a car with him."
The Solution: Set Verne up in the best luxury box in whatever stadium they are during the week with plenty of Mr. Daniels, a bag of Funions, and all the BBQ he can eat. (Which, after seeing my boy the last few years, looks like it could be quite a bit). And as for the Ultra Boob next to him, stand him in back of Gus, the field goal kicking mule, have Andy yell, "OYICH" and kick that moron through a goal post and right out of broadcasting for good.
Maybe then, the SEC Game of the Week, which showcases the best conference in America, will have two announcers that will do the game, and the conference, justice.
The Problem: Bowl Games
Remember growing up we had the four biggies, and a handful of other bowl games that were entertaining, and were nice window dressing to the bowl season. We all could settle in on New Year's Day and know we were in store for a day full of the best football games of the year, and a nice clean conclusion to the season.
Teams had to have a great record to even be mentioned for a bowl game. You might make it at 7-4…maybe. Until 1975, Big Ten teams sent only one team to the post season. Michigan went through a three-year stretch from 1972-1974 where they went 30-2-1 and never played in a bowl game. Bowl games were a privilege and it really meant something.
Now, teams that lose six games get invited to one of the 400 bowl games that begin as early as the first couple weeks of December, and go until the second week of January. And the sites range from all over the country and now even into Canada. Bowls are nothing more than a waste of time, and for most of them, they are only there to fill time until basketball season gets going.
I have to ask, unless your team is playing, who cares? Who would watch the Boudreaux's Butt Paste Bowl between Bowling Green and San Jose State? Well, maybe me, since watching that game would give me a severe case of the red ass, so I might need some of the sponsor's product.
TV needs the programming, and knows they have an audience. You and I both know, you could dress up two cows in football uniforms, place a football on a tee between them, and ESPN would swoop down and out it in bowl week.
Have we sunk that low, people?
The Solution: Stop going to all those rinky-dink bowl games, and stop watching them on TV. They will die of soon enough. And for goodness sake, make the Cotton Bowl one of the BCS games. We have to keep a little tradition going around here, right?
The Problem: The Conferences
Eventually, we will, have four super conferences, and I am not so sure that's a good thing. One day, the haves will be safe and secure, and the have-nots will be brushed aside and left to find admittance to some rinky-dink conference such as the Mid-Continental Athletic Conference. It will be worse than holding the Western States Heritage championship from the old NWA wrestling days.
Look what happened to the Southwest Conference, and what is about to happen in the Big 12. The weak will be brushed aside because they cannot reel in the big bucks, and the pressure to cheat in a super conference will be too tempting for some to resist.
Once the super powers all get in the same league, they will hold the purse strings. And anytime that happens, it is never a good thing. Why? Drum roll please. MONEY!
The Solution: I don't mind the Super Conferences, if it means we are closer to a playoff, but apply the rules I mentioned above about cheating, and I do not think we will have any more trouble out of any of the schools in these super conferences.
The Problem: The Idiots in charge
The game is on life support, and the people responsible for its health are trying to pull the plug. Aqualung candidates like Ohio State's Gordon Gee need to be canned since they are not doing the game any favors. Gee's "Little Sisters of the Poor" comment and his staunch defiance to having a playoff, "We'll have a playoff over my cold dead body," are some of his gems that don't do the game any favors.
Miami President Donna E. Shalala and former UM Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt are two people who need to be slapped in one sweep like Moe would do to Larry and Curley. Ultimately, these two people were responsible for the Miami football program, and no matter if they knew it or not, the actions of a rouge booster threaten the integrity of the sport. Instead of playing for the love of the game, as we all thought these players did every Saturday, they are playing for a paycheck, clothes, women, cars and anything else they can be offered.
The Solution: Anyone in charge, who gets caught being an idiot, has to be best buds with Gary Danielson for one year. I know that has to be worse than the Death Penalty.
The Problem: The Heisman Trophy
All right, stop laughing. Next topic please.
The Problem: Uniforms
Known as The Oregon Experience, schools are rolling our garish uniforms that are so hideous, it is a wonder people do not throw up after having to watch them for three hours. The problem is, when one school does it, it seems everyone wants to do it.
This year alone, Georgia joins Boise State and Oregon in early season games wearing god-awful ensembles of what can be described as pure crap. Maryland has a new helmet, which looks like a turtle shell, and their combo of black, yellow, red and white, which they can mix and match like those eye sore Pittsburgh Pirates uniforms in the late 70's, are hideous. Arizona State got rid of Sparky, who adorned their helmets for years, and now they have a trident, which looks like a bad logo from the XFL.
Oregon started this, and they need to be stopped, or everyone will be running around looking like they are having a scrimmage on the Land of the Misfit Toys.
What's next? Georgia coming out in silver jerseys with silver numerals and instead of stripes, a Bulldog leg down the side of the pants? Don't laugh, Oregon does it now, and they should be punished for making a mockery of what was once a pure and beloved game
Why do they do this, you ask? Ta-da! Money. Nike, Under Armour and Adidas outfits these teams, and now they get to dictate what they want them to wear.
The Solution: Have an NFL style uniform enforcement official checking on what uniforms the teams will wear every week. I am not talking about the times like UGA wearing black jerseys, or Michigan and Notre Dame wearing throwbacks to honor their schools tradition, but these terrible uniforms like in the 2010 season opener between Virginia Tech and Boise State. Both those schools looked like rejects from the casting call for the movie, Tron. And wait until you see the Maryland uniforms this year. They look like a test pattern for color TV.
The Problem: The Fans
An article on the front page of the USA Today asked this question, "Are rivalries getting out of hand? They referenced the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry where fans burn cars, win or lose. The Texas-Texas A&M rivalry was also examined as one that has led to the Aggies looking to get out of the same conference as the Longhorns.
However, the largest, and most despicable fan reaction in recent memory was the arrest of Alabama fan, Harvey Updyke, who confessed on the Paul Finebaum show to poisoning Auburn's iconic oak trees at Toomer's Corner. Have we sunk so low as a society that the actions of a bunch of 20 year olds make us do these types of unspeakable things to others?
This can all be summed up by Alabama's star senior linebacker, Dont'a Hightower, who was quoted as saying, "Sometimes, I'm just thinking, 'This is because of a football game?'" And he is 100% correct.
The word fans comes from the word, fanatics, and that is what we have not only in the South, but all over the college football landscape. Now with internet message boards, radio call in shows and other ways to put your two cents in, which is about all the brains some of these people have anyway, people feel much braver to hide behind a computer screen or telephone and talk trash. And when one fan hears this, they are compelled to fire back, and then it escalates all over again.
The solution: This is an easy one. Grow up! Act like adults and not some 18-year-old freshman at his first fraternity party. We all had better clean up our act, because one day something bad is going to happen, and when it does, we all are going to lose out on something we dearly love.
The Problem: No Playoff
I won't waste your time with this one, because you all know what this is about. But tell me, what sport does not settle its champions on the field? Of all the sports out there from football to hockey, from jousting to curling, every sport declares a winner on the field of play. Except college football.
To me, that's wrong and will always be wrong. Who is to say Auburn was better than TCU? And what about other teams from the past that have gone unbeaten but not given their chance to be champions? Settle it on the field and maybe some of this mess with computer polls, injustices, lawsuits, and a tilted playing field will be corrected. If not, the sport will be mocked as year after year of mythical champions will be crowned, and no team will be thought of as real champions.
The Solution: Have a playoff. And whoever does not want a playoff can join Gary Danielson and the reigning Idiot in Charge for a years supply of shut the hell up juice.
The Problem: Players want to be paid
Players say they should have a stipend for all the money they bring to the university. Well, I bring in lots of revenue for my job, but I don't get a check every week for the millions I help to bring in. One way the sport suffers is when the players talk about getting their cut. This is amateur athletics. You want to be paid, wait until the NFL calls you, or you walk out of campus with your degree and apply for a job.
Give us all a break. You get a free education. You get to play a sport all of us would give our left arm to play. You get exposure for a possible career in the NFL, and if don't make it, you still will get an education. What else do you need?
The Solution: Fine. You don't like it? Go park cars. Or go work at the Shakey's Pizza (Do they even have those anymore?).
You are treated like royalty. Stop acting like spoiled brats and deal with it. Play football and worry about the money after you have played your final college game.
What do you think?
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