This is all just part of the natural evolution of our society in two ways. First, most of us care less about 'us' and more about 'me' than in the past. Second, most of us are unable to see the big picture long term and instead are focussed more upon instant gratification. Thus players refuse to acknowledge the harm they do to others by breaking the rules and can't wait to cash in as professionals in three to five years. For those that don't value a college education, why do we have a system that forces them to play college football? What would be the harm of a developmental league such as minor league baseball? Let the greedy, short sighted idiots spend three years or so playing semipro ball for a few thousand dollars a year in Missoula, MT or Kalamazoo, MI.
Welcome to the new reality of college athletics. In this reality, college athletics — the actual athletic events — are only background noise. The focus instead is on scandal. One after another. Week after week. School after school.
Oklahoma State and Les Miles.
Alabama, Mississippi State and Tennessee players.
Saturday’s Alabama/Texas A&M clash might as well be hyped as Player Autographs versus Agent Money.
Enjoying it all? I hope so because with more and more media there will be fewer and fewer secrets. Some might think complete transparency is a good thing. In theory, it probably is. But this writer believes the fact that every $100 handshake — a practice that has gone on since the dawn of college sports — is now going to be uncovered by a website or just a guy with a cell phone camera and a Twitter account, will serve as the death blow for college athletics as we’ve known them.
The NCAA is a doomed organization, but not through any fault of its own. If everyone has boosters who cheat or players who take money from agents — and they do — then everyone must go on probation or be stripped of wins. With more and more schools in the NCAA hoosegow, who’ll be left to play the games?
Some of you are likely thinking, “What kind of nimrod believes it’s better if we don’t know about rule-breaking?” But the point is this: If every jaywalker in New York City was cited or arrested Barney Fife-style, think of the backlog of cases in NYC courts.
Another example: The police in your state know that they can’t catch all speeders. So they catch a few and hope that the randomness of their ticket-writing scares other drivers into slowing down. Until now, that’s basically been the NCAA’s plan, too.
Now, however, the NCAA is going to be forced to act again and again by enterprising reporters… or by angry fans with internet access. Think Alabama and Auburn backers haven’t mastered the art of mudslinging and scandal-finding?
This won’t end well, folks. We are headed toward the day — and we’ve written this on other occasions — when college sports teams are basically semi-pro squads, complete with bi-weekly paychecks and sponsor logos on helmets and jerseys. Schools will use them for marketing purposes and the rules will be relaxed to 19th Century Tombstone, Arizona standards.
What we’ve watched and enjoyed for generations is dying. An omnipresent media will kill it by exposing every toe that goes over an NCAA line.
Here’s a quick wrap on what’s being said this AM:
* As you know, Yahoo! Sports has revealed that five SEC players received extra benefits (cash) from agents/runners between September of 2011 and December of 2012. Those players documented — key word — to have received cash were ex-Alabama offensive lineman DJ Fluker, ex-Mississippi State defensive lineman Fletcher Cox and ex-receiver Chad Bumphis, ex-Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray and current Vol defensive defensive lineman Maurice Couch.
* Columnist Kevin Scarbinsky wonders if Fluker could be Alabama’s version of Reggie Bush, leading to the loss of a pair of BCS titles.
* Anyone remember Fluker tweeting in April: “Yea I took $ n college so wat. I did wat i had to do. Agents was tryin to pimp me to I pimped them. Cast da 1st stone.” At the time, his agent claimed Fluker’s Twitter account was hacked. Uh-huh. You can be sure that there will be plenty of angry Tide fans ready to “cast da 1st stone” at Fluker’s noggin if his decision to accept cash hurts their program.
* Nick Saban said yesterday taht he would handle the Fluker allegations appropriately. When pressed for answers on the Fluker topic, Saban grew angry and left his presser with the words: “I appreciate your interest in the game.”
* The runner in this case is ex-Alabama defensive lineman Luther Davis. Yahoo! Sports has records suggesting that Davis funneled at least $45,000 to the five players implicated.
* Ex-Bulldog Bumphis hung up on a reporter from The Jackson Clarion-Ledger when contacted last night about his involvement in the story.
* Here’s a look at things from a Tennessee perspective. Associate AD Jimmy Stanton said: “We are aware of the article and are examining all of the relevant facts, and we will not comment further.” UT coach Butch Jones has said that Couch probably won’t play against Oregon on Saturday. (In reality, there’s little chance he’ll ever play again for Tennessee.)
Here are some quickie thoughts on the report and its fallout:
* Most likely, the best case scenario for all three schools is that the NCAA looks at the Yahoo! report and views the player-agent relationships as being something for which the schools were not directly responsible. Southern Cal got slapped around over Reggie Bush’ dealings with an agent because an assistant coach knew about it. UA, MSU and UT fans better hope none of their coaches knew about these activities.
* If the NCAA views this as an eligibility issue only, it might mean the simple vacation of some past wins. In the cases of Tennessee and Mississippi State, no big deal. But in the case of Alabama, that could mean taking a BCS trophy or two down from shelf. For Bama, the best case scenario — assuming the NCAA believes the Yahoo! documentation — is not a pleasant scenario at all.
* So what’s the worst case scenario? The NCAA conducts an investigation of the schools and finds more dirt. Remember, once the NCAA starts snooping, its investigators can look anywhere they like. Think Ken Starr. He was charged with looking into the Whitewater scandal but wound up talking about body fluids on a blue dress. If NCAA investigators uncover more outlawed activity — especially activity that the school coulda/shoulda known about or was actually involved in — that could lead to much bigger troubles for the schools.
* Tennessee and Mississippi State are currently on probation. If the NCAA decides that these agent-player dealings should’ve been caught by the schools, MSU and UT could get see the hammer drop.
* In Tennessee’s case, the Volunteers have to hope that the NCAA will consider the fact that the school’s probation traces back to the Lane Kiffin/Bruce Pearl/Mike Hamilton era. All of those men are now gone from the UT campus, never to return. Tennessee AD Dave Hart will certainly point that out when the NCAA comes calling.
* Alabama’s recruiting will be solid no matter what. Mississippi State’s recruiting isn’t great so far to begin with. Tennessee’s recruiting, however, has been surprisingly strong. Unlike Bama, UT is having to really bait the hook for recruits as the school has had no recent football success. With rival recruiters using this Yahoo! report in a negative way — and you better believe they will — Tennessee could be the most vulnerable of the three when it comes to a derailed recruiting class.
* Best guess at what happens next? If the NCAA finds no additional dirt, I believe there’s a good chance these violations will be viewed as player eligibility issues rather than cheating on the part of the schools. There’s always a chance for a lack of institutional control charge, but this doesn’t seem to fit that bill. At first blush, I think the schools will need to buy some white-out for their media guides. That, of course, will be most painful in Tuscaloosa where more white-out will be needed.
* One last fear for college sports fans: Do you really believe these five players were the only five players in college athletics to receive money from agents or runners? Take Tennessee’s Couch as an example. He is far from a superstar. If he was given cash, is it not likely that some better NFL prospects have also received payments from different agents and runners? Which circles us back to our initial points at the top of this briefing.