Thursday, June 23, 2011

166. Entire college system is broken

This is not just a Terrelle Pryor problem, or a Jim Tressel problem, it is a NCAA problem.

Don't get me wrong, I was not fond of Pryor, something I asserted even when he was beating Michigan and winning bowl games. From his LeBron James-type "decision" in which he chose Ohio State to the NCAA infractions--this kid has demonstrated not only excessive amounts of arrogance but also a complete absence of perspective.

That lack of perspective was on display in 2009 when Pryor wore "Vick" eyepatchs to show his support for convicted dog killer Michael Vick. Afterwards, he said, ''Not everybody's the perfect person in the world. I mean, everyone kills people, murders people, steals from you, steals from me, whatever. I think that people need a second chance.'' Seriously, he played the "everyone kills people" card?

It's perhaps a bit ironic that now he is the one asking for a second chance.

His arrogance continued when he recently said in a statement, ''In the best interests of my teammates, I've made the decision to forgo my senior year of football at The Ohio State University." So I wonder, was it about his teammates when Pryor's actions, in part, launched a NCAA investigation that got him suspended, inspired the termination of his coach and brought national embarrassment to the university? I would say that is an interesting way of acting in the best interest of his teammates.

It is easy to see what Tressel saw in Pryor. His talent level was off the charts, and he was the next generation of college quarterback. He saw multiple national championships in Pryor and he was willing to sell his soul to win them. Some will say that Tressel was acting to protect his players in lying about his knowledge of the NCAA infractions. Maybe he was, but he was also acting in self-interest. As much as I generally respected Tressel, he was a guy that supported the awful BCS system. This support was hypocritical in the sense that Tressel made his name in college football by winning I-AA championships--which is determined by a playoff system. Tressel had it all figured out--play seven home games a year, win one or two tough games (including Michigan) and he would be in the running to play for a national championship. Why would he want a playoff system--where he would have to win four tough games in a row. I found that perspective to be a little cowardice.

The question is now whether Tressel will get a second chance--like the morally repugnant, Pryor and Vick.

However, the real problem is the NCAA. As sportswriter Jason Whitlock wrote, "The system is broken. No one believes in the integrity of the NCAA rule book. Most fair-minded people don't believe the athletes are getting a fair shake. Many of them are unprepared to be educated in college, and the demands on their time compromise their ability to catch up or keep pace academically."

Whitlock further notes, "Because of technological advances, video games, online shopping and the explosion of sports-related TV programing, NCAA schools now collectively derive billions rather than millions from college football and basketball."

There is no doubt about it, college players are exploited for profit. Rules are broken and then selectively enforced. It is all about the money. That's why the BCS system exists, and why we have March Madness. It's why Cam Newton and Terrelle Pryor were allowed to play in the bowl games. It is not about fairly determining champions or acting with integrity or producing student-athletes; it is about making billions of dollars.

Unfortunately, there is no recourse; the NCAA is essentially self-governed. The NCAA has no competition, and fans are not willing to sacrifice their enjoyment to force the NCAA to make changes. We can be as outraged as we want to be, but as long as we keep buying tickets, supporting sponsors and watching games-things will not change. Players will continue to exploited, and they will continue to break the rules. And coaches will do whatever it takes to win a championship. And that includes knowing when to look the other way or get out of town.

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