Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2010
By Frankie O
It seems I cant pick up a paper or watch TV for more than five minutes these days and have to hear more about the Cam Newton saga.
Once again, NCAA football, and the BCS, are front and center in the sports conversation. As usual though, its for all of the wrong reasons. I could go on and on about my disdain about the BCS and my desire for a playoff for Division I football. (Football subdivisions? What does that mean? Is that taken from the old Rush song?)
I dont even rant about it from behind the bar anymore because everyone agrees. Everyone!
I have never met a fan of college football who thinks the current system is the best we could have. So every year, the media conversation gets ramped up about the inequities of the system and the plights of this years outsiders. (T.C.U. and Boise St.) Theres a great article in this weeks Sports Illustrated that describes the financials of the current bowl system and shows why those in charge dont want to give it up.
Thats because they are making a ton of cash. Really? Go figure! And thats the point. Football and basketball at big-time universities are big-time money makers. Have you seen the seating capacities of the football stadiums at the Big Ten schools that are filled to the rafters every Saturday? It would figure then, that the people who perform each Saturday would be very valuable commodities. And they are. But at this point, they are the ONLY ones not making a huge profit from the games being played.
And that takes us to Mr. Newton, or make that the two Mr. Newtons, since Cams father is also at the center of college footballs latest scandal. Ill take for granted that we all know the allegations that Newton Sr. was asking for cash for his son to play. Ill also take for granted that most know that Newton Jr. has had a checkered past, to say the least, from his time at the University of Florida.
What I wont take for granted is that the person behind the allegations against the Newtons has some issues of his own. Besides having once played for a school that Newton spurned, it seems that Kenny Rogers, who works for agent Ian Greengross, is the subject of 15 allegations of misconduct by the NFL Players Association. I guess big money just brings out the best in folks.
My feeling here, just like the Reggie Bush saga, which took FIVE YEARS to figure out: it is going to be a while, if ever, before we can figure out whos telling the truth. The point I cant let go of is how the system is set up for this to happen over and over again. Do you think that Newton is the only player in big-time college sports that has made a bad decision? Do you think we would be hearing about it now if Newtons Auburn Tiger squad did not have a chance to play in the BCS title game?
Big money is a ruthless business. It brings out the worst in everyone - when they arent getting a piece that is. There is so much that everyone wants some. And again, the only ones that arent getting any are the players themselves. So what would you expect the temptation level to be for a student athlete to take some, if it was being offered?
Student athletes, who almost every time have families with very little? Im just a bartender, but I would imagine the temptation is great, especially when you have con men from every side telling you how much is out there for everyone.
The answer? I dont know if there will ever be one that is foolproof as long as money is involved, but the thought of a scholarship being enough, or the only form of compensation for someone brought to a team, Im sorry, I mean an institution of higher learning, to help them generate more cash is so last century. (How much does a scholarship really cost anyway?) I know one thing for sure, its not as much as what the school says it is.
Another thought: NFL owners must be green with envy when they see 107,000 paying customers at Happy Valley and know that the number one NFL expense, the players, doesnt eat up all the profits at a college game.
Moving forward, there has to be a better way to compensate the upper tier of athletes that everyone knows are there for a reason. I think that any form of additional compensation should be tied to actual classroom performance, but thats me, Im a dreamer!
But even Mr. Dreamer realizes that the system now does not work and it is only going to get worse. But as always, as long as the schools are making big money off of their sports programs, change will be glacial and situations like the ones with Bush and Newton will just be part of the cost of doing business.
Enjoy your BCS!