College football fans, it is time to admit that the notion that big-time Division 1 (FBS) football is pure is (make your pick):
- a bad joke
- a farce
- a fairy tale
- all of the above.
The ESPN series of reports on brazen academic cheating and incentive payments to players at Oklahoma State is, one suspects, just the tip of a massive iceberg that, if really explored, would sink the Titanic sport in its own sea of lies.
Thirteen players on Oklahoma State football teams from 2000 to 2011 say they committed some kind of academic misconduct while at the school, according to the latest Sports Illustrated installment on the Cowboys program.
Sixteen other players were named by players as having schoolwork done for them.
On Tuesday, SI.com reported that players received cash payments from people associated with the program and said that the issue surfaced when Les Miles — the coach at LSU since 2005 — took over OSU’s program in December 2000. The claims of academic misconduct coincide with Miles’ tenure but continued after current coach Mike Gundy took over in 2005.
Players told SI that they had coursework completed by tutors or university staff members, received answers to exams before taking them and received passing grades despite not completing coursework.
Miles, who addressed the issue Wednesday on the SEC teleconference, said those making allegations of academic fraud at Oklahoma State or improper payments to players from boosters “weren’t there long enough to figure it out” because they were dismissed from the program.
“I revered my time in Stillwater,” Miles said. “The idea that someone would characterize the program that was run there as anything but right and correct …
“Did we work hard? You betcha. Did we make tough decisions about starting lineups? You betcha. But every guy was encouraged to get his degree, stay the course and fight.”
Raise your hand if you believe Les Miles. Raise your other hand if you believe a similar probe would not reveal similar activities at LSU, his current gig.
But let’s not chuck Miles under the bus. He is just one member of a fraternity of coaches put in the position of doing whatever is necessary to win football games. Millions of dollars are at stake, both for the school and the coach. If the water gets too hot, he can always jump out of the luxury collegiate hot tub and dive into the NFL pool, ala Pete Carroll.
Just leave the school, undergraduate and future players to clean up the mess you deny knowing anything about.
Yahoo Sports fingers SEC for NCAA violations
Not to be outdone by the measly Big 12, SEC juggernauts have been caught with their own pants down, according to Yahoo Sports (not to be outdone by ESPN):
Five Southeastern Conference football stars violated NCAA rules by receiving extra benefits prior to completing their collegiate careers, a Yahoo Sports investigation has found. The benefits – which in some cases came from multiple individuals – were conveyed to University of Alabama offensive tackle D.J. Fluker, University of Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray, Tennessee defensive end Maurice Couch, Mississippi State Universitydefensive tackle Fletcher Cox and Mississippi State wideout Chad Bumphis.
Fluker, Bray and Cox are all currently on NFL rosters. Bumphis was recently released by the Miami Dolphins. Couch is a senior starter for the Volunteers this season.
The identities of these players were revealed in a web of financial and text message records belonging to former Crimson Tide defensive end Luther Davis. The records were turned over to Yahoo Sports by a source with ties to the NFL agent community who alleged that Davis was acting as an intermediary between several high-profile college football stars and multiple NFL agents and financial advisers.
Luther Davis played for Alabama from 2007-10.
Davis declined to comment for this story. However, Yahoo Sports was able to authenticate text message records, Western Unionfund transfers, banking statements, flight receipts and other financial material linking both Davis and the five college football players. Yahoo Sports also found that three NFL agents and three financial advisers engaged Davis in transactions totaling $45,550. The three agents were Andy Simms, Peter Schaffer and John Phillips. The financial advisers were Jason Jernigan, Mike Rowan and Hodge Brahmbhatt.
Regarding the alleged SEC violations, CBS Sports notes, If the NCAA can prove the allegations made in the Yahoo report it would violate Bylaw 126.96.36.199, the same bylaw violated in the Reggie Bush case at USC.
Oklahoma State, SEC not alone, of course
The list of NCAA violators reads like a Who’s Who in college football. Ohio State went undefeated a year ago, but could not participate in the postseason and missed a shot at a national championship. The Reggie Bush fiasco put an end to USC’s dominance. I won’t mention Penn State, because one has to hope the sordid stuff that went on there does not happen regularly all across America.
One would have to be blind or blindly loyal to believe there are any major college football programs that are squeaky clean.
Riddle me this. How does Oregon, a state that produces a five-star football player or two every decade, become a powerhouse, attracting some of the nation’s elite from places like California, Texas, Florida and such? Did those player just want to wear cool uniforms and have access to world class workout facilities? Do they just love Eugene in the Fall? Did they always want to live in some remote outpost, away from the hubbub of civilization?
The NCAA is semi-pro ball
The notion that FBS college football is some idyllic amateur competition is just silly. The sport generates billions of dollars. It makes coaches into icons and campuses into destination spots.
Grown men, some with all their teeth, who never darkened a college campus and whose only “Degree” helps control the sweat rings in their arm pits, paint their beer bellies and shave their heads into the team mascot. They poison the trees on the enemy’s campus and brawl in barrooms over whose team sucks the worst.
Others sip their mint juleps in luxury suites and call their bookies to put a “dime” on their alma mater.
From the cheap seats to the luxury suites, college football is big time.
With so much money and power hinging on the performance of young athletes, many of whom hail from meager backgrounds, monetary incentives are bound to abound. Throw in over-zealous alumni with more money than they know what to do with and filled with testosterone and pride, drunk on the buzz that comes from being the power broker behind their alma mater’s success, and add a heaping helping of sports agents trying to get ahead of the curve and sign as many future professional athletes as they can, and you have a blueprint for corruption.
Just…make it real and keep it that way…please!
I love college football as much as the next guy. I just hate playing this ridiculous game of “if I didn’t see it, it didn’t happen.” I am tired of the hypocrisy. Either insist that every program use bona fide student athletes, capable of maintaining the required academic status and meeting the same standards to which students that don’t run fast and cannot toss a Volkswagen over the goal post are held, or admit that you are running a program that consists both of student athletes and semi-professional athletes. Admit that many of your semi-pros are there to play football. Pay them for their services. Allow them to attend the classes they wish to attend, and if they fail, do not penalize them. If they fail to perform on the field, the penalty is already built-in and will be enforced by the coaching staff.
Just stop already. We are too enlightened. We are too intelligent. We know what you are doing and we don’t care, unless you are our school’s nemesis. Then, we want you caught and crucified.
We got spirit. Yes, we do!
We just don’t have the stomach for you…and your sea of lies.