Woah its been awhile. Life gets in the way and all that. Rule #76, No excuses blog like a champion. So we’re back in the saddle.
I spent this afternoon reading the SI article on Jim Tressel and it was very much not a glowing article. It detailed his career at Youngstown State, his scraps with the NCAA at Ohio State and the big fall that finally claimed his tenure as head coach with Ohio State. Frankly, I read the whole thing with a kind of deadness. Following on the heels of the USC debacle, and various other major institutions failing to uphold the NCAA rules, I simply don’t have the energy to care when these kinds of things come down. Now I’m sure that’s partially because I don’t have a dog in the college football fight, but I think like most americans at this point I assume that all the programs are doing the same thing, and any program that isn’t is not a winning program.
The symptoms for this disease are clear. High school athletes have become very coddled. As the money that flows into various college sports increases, so does the demand for stars to come to various universities. This in turn means that high school kids are exceedingly treated like royalty and have thus developed an entitled attitude. They expect to get things like cars and tattoos because they’re stars. In some sense, they’re correct. They bring in millions of dollars for a university who simply has to allow them to live on campus, attend classes, and eat. Sure there are some other expenses that go into a scholarship, but for the most part that is all that’s required of institutions.
Still, the NCAA is the governing power, and the failure of so many organizations highlights a major problem. When you’re governing body has no real power to maintain order then there’s no real reason to call it the governing body. The NCAA needs to beef up its punishments. Drastically. For instance, SMU received what was called the death penalty for repeated offenses. I think that this should be increased. The NCAA already has levels of violations, from major to minor. I believe that if an institution violates 2 major violations in a 15-20 year period, it should receive a 3 year ban from the sport. I think a single violation of a major penalty should result in significant punishments including removal of scholarships, removal of players from the sport, significant fining to the institution as well as the return of any bowl game benefits (monetary ones) to a charity or other beneficial program. These kinds of hammers should give the NCAA a real bite and a power to enforce their rules.
I don’t blame the players however, and would demand there be a pay structure in place. It would be limited to a certain amount so that schools couldn’t simply pay more for the services of their athletes, and the pay could not be lucrative enough to overwhelm the benefits of the NFL. But several thousand dollars a year should be relatively sufficient, and in general that type of pay could be spread to all college athletes which would be a requirement. This provides less incentive to seek extra monetary benefits and significant penalties for athletes that continue to do so.
Pryor isn’t out of the woods yet. He’s elected to leave Ohio State, which is probably the right move considering the backlash that he is receiving (and frankly, Jim Tressel sounds much more at fault here considering this was a perennial problem), and will move on to the NFL. They’re already talking about moving him to another position, but he has the talent enough to become a starting quarterback. If I’m a program needing a future starter (Redskins, Dolphins, Arizona, Seattle, San Francisco, Oakland) I’m taking a look at Pryor and evaluating whether I can teach him sound mechanics. If a team has a good stop-gap, like Oakland has Jason Campbell, then you’ve got time to groom him and a potential starter in the wings. I don’t think he fits as a wide receiver or tight end, but has the talent if he’s committed to it. Pryor will be in something of a limbo for a while while he waits to see if there’ll be a supplemental draft to enter, and Florio seems to think there’ll be a lawsuit attacking the idea of a draft for players stuck out in the cold like Pryor currently.
At any rate, OSU isn’t out of the woods yet. Tressel has another hearing before he can fade into the shadows for a while, and I’ll bet the university will be seeing some significant sanctions coming their way in the next couple of months.