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Don’t go playin’ that fooozball.

We don’t talk a lot about sports on the Commentator blog or in the magazine. This isn’t a problem, maybe in the print version but that’s a debate for another day. Occasionally we showcase the stupidity of University of Oregon athletes, like the three basketball players who shot ducks with pellet guns at Alton Baker park.

Considering my strange love for American football, and my current internship at a sports journalism site, I thought I would share a few thoughts about the NCAA that have become increasingly apparent to me. You may have come to this conclusion long ago yourself but I didn’t start following collegiate sports and its myriad of issues until I became a freshmen. Even then it took a few months.

My conclusion: The NCAA is the United Nations of the collegiate sports world.

I don’t mean this in a good way. I’m talking about the U.N. that has no power (which it doesn’t) and mostly allows for easier (or if you care to argue the other way) diplomatic ties for various countries. The power that the media, fans, and schools ascribe to the NCAA is on the whole ridiculous.

Here’s three points of evidence –

1. The University of Alabama punishment

Recently the NCAA ruled that the University of Alabama football program must vacate 21 wins from the 2005 – 2007 seasons. Alabama is in the process of appealing the sanctions. The sanctions were handed down when Alabama reported that students from various sports programs were allegedly using student benefits they received to profit. Mostly this was a group of student-athletes who were buying textbooks for free and selling them to other students at a reduced price [personally, I think with the way the textbook industry is so monopolized those kids who bought from the athletes probably got a cheaper price. The actions are still unethical but it’s kind of a strange Robin Hood situation].

Another southern program, Florida State, is on the chopping block and may also have to vacate wins (their term not mine). This time because allegedly 61 student-athletes cheated on an online music history test.

Officially, this is all good and well. Unofficially, the punishment means nothing. It’s highly doubtful that either Alabama or FSU will actually remove these wins and the statistics from them from their record books. It’s doubtful the SEC or the ACC will actually remove the statistics or wins from their records books.

The only thing that this achieves is to publicly shame the schools, also, officially Bobby Bowden goes down as 11 wins away from beating Joe Paterno for winningest coach in ever. For Bowden the removal of wins is a punishment for Nick Saban over at Alabama it does nothing. He doesn’t lose his job, he doesn’t lose players, and his current players aren’t suffering any consequences (not that they should unless they too are cheating or what-have-you). In fact, if Saban were to leave Alabama for another head coaching position he could probably get one almost wherever he wanted.

No one suffers here.

A U.N. example here would be when the U.N. passes down sanctions or embargoes on various countries. Take Iraq for example. Pre-Gulf War 2 Iraq had been embargoed by the U.N. since 1990. That did not stop the France from trading with the Iraqis during that time period, mostly weapons but food and other goods as well.

And as far as I know the U.S. was still accepting oil, though in limited quantities nothing like our dealings with the Saudis.

Admittedly, some countries acknowledged the embargo and the Iraq economy suffered some (I honestly blame that more on Hussein’s policies than the embargo though). Still, it’s not as if every nation in the U.N. was listening to their own mandates.

Without the power to really enforce their sanctions or back their word up the pieces of paper that the U.N. prints up mean nothing. The same goes with the NCAA.

2. The USC Allegations

After star running back Reggie Bush left USC there were several allegations that his family received items in Southern California well beyond plane trips to see their son play, these items included a house, vehicles for Bush and his family, and money. Essentially it was hinted that Bush was more than paid to go to USC.

The recently resigned basketball coach Tim Floyd came under fire when it was rumored that star recruit O.J. Mayo received $30,000 from an agent (against NCAA regulations). There are also some allegations that Floyd paid money to get Mayo to play for USC.

A couple of things to note about these allegations and the subsequent investigations:

– The investigations have not been concluded and no punishment has been issued to USC or the players mentioned. Floyd resigned this month suddenly and it is suspected that he did so because of the allegations.

– Reggie Bush has been in the NFL since 2006 (where he has under-achieved I might add). The investigations started almost immediately after he left USC and previous to his being drafted by the Saints.

– O.J. Mayo has been in the NBA for one season. He was controversial before he signed with USC but it increased after he left.

In my mind this is very telling. The NCAA has no preventative measures (except losing scholarships, recruiting restrictions) to stop school’s, players, and agents from dealing with one another. Most, I would argue 95%, of punishments that the NCAA gives out are to self-reported schools. The Alabama issue in my above point was self-reported.

A couple years ago Indiana University lost a coach, scholarships, student-athletes, and received restrictions because of a self-reported violation.

This is important to note because the USC allegations weren’t self-reported. The punishments that the NCAA gave to these other schools was nearly immediate without an investigation by the association. With USC there are rumors that most fans and media people believe to be true but neither USC or the NCAA have been forthcoming with their investigation and no punishments have been meted out.

I’d make a U.N. connection here but laziness over takes the author. On to point number three.

3. The BCS Championship Game (Football)

Of all the sports that are recognized by the NCAA football is the only one without a playoff system, the only one. Every other sport has some kind of playoff to determine the champion for that season, lacrosse, golf, basketball with March Madness, baseball World Series in Omaha, etc. They all have a playoff.

Football refuses to do change. Most fans and a good chunk of sports writers continue to blame the NCAA for the lack of playoffs.

Most fans and a good chunk of sports writers would be wrong. The reason that there isn’t a playoff system is because the big six conferences (ACC, Big East, SEC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac-10) continually vote against it. Annually there is a conference between the commissioners of each conference and every year one commissioner asks for a playoff and everyone else votes it down.

And it’s not just the commissioners either. Our own Dave Frohnmayer was on a committee of University Presidents for the Nation that also voted down a playoff system.

To be realistic it’s all about the money that schools and conferences bring in because of bowl deals, tv contracts, etc. They believe that a playoff would reduce the amount of money that they make. I don’t believe this and I think it would increase the money, just look at March Madness that thing is a money-machine. Admittedly, there won’t be 64 teams in a football playoff but still.

This one does have a U.N. example.

After the U.S. military had essentially driven the Taliban out of Afghanistan Bush’s administration turned their focus on Iraq. We all know the story. The U.N. sent teams of investigators into Iraq to determine whether or not there were actually WMDs. I won’t go into yay or nay there were or were not. Point is they came back and said no.

The U.S. invaded Iraq anyway to the chagrin of the Security Council and the U.N. as a whole, save England.

The U.S. in this situation is the big six conferences. The U.N. has/had no power to stop the U.S. from going to war with Iraq. Most of the power that the U.N. does have comes from the U.S. anyway, most of the soldiers that work for the U.N. come from the U.S.

In a similar fashion, all the power that the NCAA does have comes from the conferences. If say the WAC, Sun Belt Conference, and the A-10 wanted to hold D-1 mid-major playoffs to determine a champion amongst themselves they could. If the big six wanted to they could as well. The NCAA is a token sanctioning body.

You can agree or disagree here but I thought that I’d share my thoughts on how worthless the NCAA is and conversely the U.N.

  1. Betz says:

    Just wanted to share this with you …. sum’s up my thoughts pretty well of the BCS…

  2. Betz says:

    You know, you could have saved yourself a bunch of typing and just have said that the NCAA sucks, and we would have believed you …

    I completely agree about the football playoff system, though … a playoff system would be 10x greater than the BCS system we have now. I couldn’t agree more … its all about the money. We used to have classic bowl games, like “The Sugar Bowl” , “The Freedom Bowl”, “The Sun Bowl” …. now, we have things like “The Citibank-Capital One Bowl”, “Tostito’s Fiesta Bowl” , “FedEx Orange Bowl” …. how much do you think those company’s pay to get their brand name forever emblazoned upon these titles? I don’t know for certain, but I’m guessing its somewhere between “a lot” and “a shitload”.

    There’s money to be made in a playoff system (I was thinking march madness at Vegas before I even read down to the part where YOU mentioned March Madness!) … there’s money going to businesses and advertisers all throughout those playoffs. The only thing is that the money to be made isn’t going to the school, or, perhaps, to the RIGHT businesses (ie, the one’s currently profiting). I still think they’re wrong, but hey…

  3. Johnny says:

    During the 1980’s you guys did a super bowl issue…

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