Today marks the sacred celebration of Festivus, so we here at tBBC have been prepping for the Feats of Strength- JoeD used to wrestle, Rob and Jason have Buckeye football backgrounds, but my money’s on Jim… I think he brings a ton of tenacity to the table.
Anyway, another important Festivus tradition is the “Airing Of Grievances”… and we turn the mike over to our friend and investigative reporter Westy, who weighs in on the state of the sport in Columbus and beyond.
So what do you say now that the news has been handed down? The Ohio State University will be punished with additional scholarship losses, and most notably no Bowl game in 2012. If you’re anything like me you spewed a line of almost incomprehensible obscenities and threats at your radio while driving back to work from your lunch break. But pause for a moment and take a look at the bigger picture with me, if you will. College football is broken. No not in this “everyone is cheating, oh heavens to betsy!… quick get Grandma off the roof!” sense of the word broken. It’s broken in the sense that it’s dominated by greed and money, and the game quite frankly doesn’t matter anymore. Let me list for you a few of the plethora of reasons college football is broken…
The biggest source of sports news in the world is ESPN. This goes for college football as well. There are other sources out there (you’re reading one right now), but if you want to talk the head honcho — you talk ESPN. ESPN has a financial contract with the SEC; a FIFTEEN year contract worth several billion dollars, to show SEC games on their family of networks. They are in every sense of the phrase, “in bed” with the SEC. Pause and think about that for a moment. The number one source of college football commentary, reporting, news, etc … has a vested interest in seeing only ONE of the eleven major college football conferences succeed. Am I the only one who noticed the conflict of interest there? Am I the only one who doesn’t wonder aloud if all of their hardcore investigating into Ohio State, Penn State, Oregon, UNC, USC, etc, etc… is just a bit curious since they by in large ignored situations at Auburn, Georgia, South Carolina, LSU… How many of you can tell me what the cases even WERE at all four of those SEC schools?
Think for a moment if the President of the United States, (be it Barrack Obama, George W Bush, Harrison Ford, whoever…) had all of the major new networks on his side. Let’s say that maybe those networks have a contract with the President, where they get to show his public addresses on their networks, in return for a huge chunk of money. No switching to Fox or to MSNBC for the opposite prospective, they both like the guy and dislike his rivals…. Does that make your stomach turn a bit? Does that make you wonder about the “slant” they’re giving their information? ESPN is to sports, what MTV is to music, only ESPN doesn’t air Jackass (although you’d never know the difference if you looked at their commentary line up, ahem, May/Holtz/Corso/Herbstriet/etc).
We’re annually force fed the bowl system, and I see no change in the future. Let me explain what I think about the bowl system using a little history…. In 1776 our forefathers started a revolution against the British. Their weapon of choice in the war that would follow was the musket. In fact that weapon would be the basic military weapon for decades to come, even somewhat into the civil war (depending on how you classify a musket). But the day came, when a better technology was invented. Behold, rifles, machine guns, super soakers, etc. Now I ask you, would you want to keep using a musket when there is a readily available machine gun — for the sake of tradition? Back when model T’s roamed the streets and casual racism was still widely accepted in more than just SEC country, the bowl system was perfect. It got teams together for one more game, against a foe they would probably never otherwise face, and all for the enjoyment of the fans (and a bit of profit for the host, but we’ll get into that later).
Well eventually it became apparent that this system, while an improvement on no post-season, was not really answering the question of who the best team in the country was. Behold the BCS, the bayonet to the bowl-systems musket. But I still pity the Musketeer (I’ll bet you didn’t think you’d read that word today did you?) who tries to charge an armed machine gun. They feed us this line of “Oh well the BCS is better than our old system…” Yah well the musket is better than a bow and arrow, but I’ll still take the machine gun thank you.
This system is antiquated, and frankly it doesn’t make sense. I could get into the intricacies of how you could hold a playoff without eliminating the lesser bowls (NIT tournament anyone?), but the crux of the problem is you are left with a flat out ridiculous system which determines which two teams play for the national title every year. The system is based on two human polls and a computer poll. One of those human polls is the coaches, who by in large admit they’ve not seen the majority of the teams on their top 25, and in some cases even the scores those teams had in their most recent game. The other human poll, the Harris poll, is based on a random mix of sports writers, former coaches, former players, and as far as I can tell random people on the bus who appeared to be awake. Oh by the way, all of those human voters are vulnerable to the constant propaganda spewed by ESPN, and the vast majority of them have pre-conceived allegiances and ideas based on their own school and conference fandom and ties.
Then you have the computer poll, which you would think would return some semblance of sanity to the whole ordeal. But alas, the computer poll is generated by averaging the rankings of several mathematical formulas. What are those formulas? With the exception of one of them, no one knows. Not even the BCS officials who willingly abide by their results know WHAT the formula is. It could just be some dude pulling names out of a hat and writing them down, there is NO safeguard. This comes with the possibility that one of those “computers” might get something wrong… which actually happened last year. In the final BCS poll before bowl selection, Wes Colley’s mathematical formula (the only one available to the public) accidentally forgot to put the score of the Western Illinois-Appalachian State FCS playoff game into the formula. This seems minute to you or I, but the result was LSU, Boise St, Alabama, and Nebraska were all incorrectly ranked in the BCS standings. Thankfully (for the BCS), the corrected values didn’t change who should’ve been playing for the title… but what if it had? Worse, what if a team that mattered had been affected rather than teams from state’s I would never move too?
Oh by the way, most schools lose money every year on the bowls. During the last three years, the average BCS bowl team lost over $300,000 on their “reward” (think about that next time you complain about a congressman saying our PUBLIC universities need to change this system). I could go on and on about the bowl system, and the BCS, and how stupid they are — but you get the point. Quite frankly, I haven’t watched a BCS National Championship game that didn’t include the Buckeyes, save for only Texas vs. USC. This system to determine a champion is a sham — yet we are force fed it every January.
The NCAA and college football administrators would have you believe that their student-athletes are their primary concern. Heck, one of the biggest reasons they argue we couldn’t support a playoff, is that it would interfere with the class schedule and finals for many of the players (apparently forgetting that over half of the bowl games are played while most schools are in session, and the bowl practices tend to go right through all those pesky finals). But I would laugh in the face of any NCAA official who told me that student well being was their goal, likely spewing moist flaming-hot-cheeto dust all over his face.
For one thing, the players are saddled with a litany of downright ridiculous rules. I will concede that some of them make sense to a degree. For example, while I have a hard time arguing that a wealthy booster who is stupid enough to want to give an 18 year old star QB the keys to his Ferrari and a credit card in his name, should not be allowed to blow his money in any way he wants — I can see how this could foster an environment akin to professional baseball, where only the best teams have any money and hence all the best players (although hold onto the thought of that car/money scenario, because we’ll get more into money in a bit). But I don’t see the common sense in it being against the rules for me to buy a drink for an of age player at a bar. I don’t see why it should be against the rules for players to trade their OWN belongings for tattoos or whatever the heck they want (especially taking into account that in Ohio State’s case, the goods were being traded at market value or less). Did you know there’s an actual NCAA rule that prohibits schools from providing their players with edible nuts? Did you know that our players up in Cleveland were being paid less than their non-student-athlete counterparts, because the NCAA has a limit on what you CAN be paid? I would think they should be compensated even more since they had to be in Cleveland.
I don’t know that paying players is the way to go on this. But if you’re going to get rich off their work, you could at least make life a little easier for them — But that brings me to the next thing….
The NCAA is downright abusing college football players. Now I hesitate to say the NCAA is using slave labor, as some proponents of this argument will tell you — But I can understand their argument. The NCAA and college football make a TON of money off of the work that the college football players are doing (more on that money in a moment) — and what do the kids get in repayment? An education? Really? That’s what you’re going to tell me? Ok lets take a quick poll. Assume that next year a viable minor league football system becomes available. Every kid coming out of high school has the option to choose between our current College football system, or a privately run minor league system where they will be coached by similar coaches, paid a decent wage (let’s say $30k-$100k depending on league determined talent), and they can get their own endorsements on the side. After a few years those players in this fantasy-minor-league would be able to go out for the NFL draft, and would get just as serious a look from the NFL. With that scenario in mind, how many of the top 100 kids in this years recruiting class still opt to go into the college system? How many of the top 100 basketball players out of high school chose college before they were required to wait a year? Since we’re tossing around ideas for expensive crap we can repay the players with that they don’t want, I would submit to you that we should give players antique fabrege eggs rather than scholarships.
The truth of the matter is a lot of these kids couldn’t care less about the education aspect. They want to play football and make it to the league, and college is the only route they have to achieve that goal. School is just some annoying thing they have to go to –and in some cases (*cough hack, m*chigan hack cough*) they’re going to sham classes made up just for them.
Frankly the NCAA is a borderline criminal syndicate in my book, and our beloved schools are just as bad. How much money did college football generate last year? Think about it for a moment and then guess. Do you have a number? I’m guessing your number ends with an “illion” — but what does it start with? Did it start with a “B?” –Because it should have started with a B. According to the department of education, college football generated roughly two BILLION dollars last year. Almost one billion of that was profit. In other words the schools, all 120 or so of them (though the majority of the money was with the big names), plus the NCAA — made almost one billion dollars profit on the sport. In ONE year. That two billion dollar revenue figure doesn’t count the money paid to the BCS by the way.
Let me put that into prospective for you. That 1 billion dollar profit margin puts college football ahead of all of the following companies on the Fortune 500 for 2011 (numbers in parenthesis are in millions); Charles Schwab ($454), Dicks Sporting Goods ($182), Harley-Davidson ($146.5), Ralph Lauren/Polo ($479), 5/3 Bank ($753), Starbucks ($945). College football wouldn’t pass (this year anyways) the following juggernauts, but they would be pretty on par with them; Yahoo ($1.2 Billion), AEP ($1.2 Billion), Cigna ($1.3 Billion), Amazon ($1.1 Billion), Best Buy ($1.3 Billion). And another thing to keep in mind is how much money those companies all had to have in revenue before reaching that level of profit. College football keeps roughly 50% of it’s revenue. Let’s compare that to a few companies you may have heard of, and how much of their revenue they kept this year; Wal-Mart (Roughly $16 Billion, or 4% of total revenue), Exxon-Mobil ($30.4 Billion kept, approximately 8.4% of revenue), JP Morgan-Chase ($17.3 Billion of total revenue, or roughly 15%) and of course Westy Westergaard (Somehow just about nothing, for a staggering 0% of total revenue — damn student loans…).
Here’s the kicker for me. The NFL, the pro football league, the best of the best and the #1 money making sport in the country — had a revenue of roughly 6 billion dollars last year, and profited…. $1.03 billion. College football makes roughly as much money as the NFL in profit.
Amateurism was once at the core of college football (see 1920’s), but that ship has sailed my friends. Never have I thought “amateur” and had a college football player come CLOSE to entering my mind (in fact usually it’s a far more .. illicit image, that we won’t get into here). The NCAA, the bowls, college administrators, are flat out lying to you when they suggest that the sport is even remotely amateur.
This all brings me to the core of my argument. Ohio State was for all intents and purposes “hammered” by the NCAA on Tuesday. In fact it’s the first time a post season ban has been handed down for a head coach lying to the NCAA (out of 18 cases). You can argue with me til you’re blue in the face that they broke the rule and this punishment is justified, but it’s not, and you will never be right (I mean, how do you go about punishing the future players and coaches, when the guys that DID the crime are still going to be playing THIS year in a bowl game???)…. But that’s all a moot point, and quite frankly, OSU players and staff violating the rules had little to do with the punishment handed down to them in my opinion.
Ohio State felt the wrath of the NCAA because the organization needed to keep us busy. We felt the wrath because the NCAA submits to whatever the “mob” that is college football’s fans wants at the moment. It’s the same reason the NCAA has investigated a host of other big name schools over the last few years (ever wonder why you never hear about violations at Iowa State, or Louisiana Lafayette?) They use these investigations of arbitrary and idiotic rules to turn us against one another. It’s not like it’s hard to do, we already hate all the other major schools. For every one die hard fan there is of a program there’s one fan of another program who can’t stand them and very easily believes the worst about them. So the NCAA throws every angry fan a big piece of red meat, then watches while we squabble amongst ourselves about who got what “illegal” benefits… then they and all the college administrators and coaches, the BCS head honchos, the dirt bags at ESPN.. all go back to count their money in private…. Please, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain…. Which brings me to the number one problem with college football….
Speaking of money, I wonder how much money the lube industry is making off of college football fans every year….