I’ve made three attempts to write about something both focused on Notre Dame and on actual, you know, football for the last 2 hours. And I can’t do it. Not right now. Nearly 2 weeks after probably the worst scandal/crime cover-up in collegiate sports history, we’re still watching Happy Valley, waiting for the other shoe to drop. And so of course someone else lost their shoe in Syracuse this evening. And while we’re so busy tracking sex crime allegations across members of the NCAA, we’re busy having our retinas burned out by the latest “evolution” in uniform design from every Lookatme University on the grid. Collegiate sports have wiped me out this year, and I just can’t take it anymore.
Notre Dame fans must have the worst of it. They must. Because only at Notre Dame can we find time between sexual assault charges and coaches with DWIs around college football to get our Irish up over alleged jumbotrons, alleged turf wars, and alleged taste in music. At least most of the rest of the college football fanbase must have the good sense to simply focus on something like the Sandusky case and think, “Thank God that’s not my school,” and then just get right back to wondering how their front 7 is going to slow down the opponent with 2 starters banged up. Have you any idea how much I miss trying to analyze the Irish’ ability to drop the ball at inopportune times?
I’m not quitting, of course. Because where would I go? Pro football? For what city? I live near DC these days. Have you seen the Redskins? But I remember this feeling. I remember something similar to what I feel today back when I was young and was out in the dating world, and I’d get bored with whoever I was dating because mostly I was sick of their shit. That’s what this feels like. College Football has become that girl that you used to date and you thought they were fantastic but it turns out that all the awesome stuff that you used to focus on has completely disappeared under a thick layer of bat-shit insane. That’s college football. And frankly, right now, I feel like if I do break up with her, at the rate she’s going, there’s absolutely now way I’ll see her a few years from now and realize she got her life in order after me (and started hitting the gym with great fervor). But again, where would I go?
College Sports absolutely must be at some sort of breaking point today. Hell, it seems like most of the participants aren’t even interested in playing by the rules, never mind the actual laws of our society for a moment. Today it was revealed that 5 years worth of NCAA financial data has been out on the open web for quite a while, and once the press got wind of it, the facts are just flabbergasting to any and every fan of any and every program that’s been accused of “cheating” because their players might have gotten some free tattoos or sold some bowl swag. The entire BCS bubble feels like it’s going to pop at any moment. If you think PSU and Syracuse are the end of stories about coaches doing horrible things to young people, you’re absurdly naive. Even network executives are starting to lament, publicly, about the absurd cost of television rights. And what happens when 1 or 2 of these newly aligned conference members receive NCAA death penalties, disrupting the carefully balanced power there? College sports is just now crashing into an iceberg of fucked.
There are really only 2 things that can be done to help right now. First, it’s time for the NCAA member schools to take back their athletic programs from the boosters and the television executives. It wont solve every problem we’ve seen lately come out of the world of “amateur student athletics,” but it’d be a step in the right direction. If you’re a president of a NCAA member institution, and your top contributor happens to be a well-known, rather eccentric tycoon of some sort, consider that sort of tycoon a primary tumor, and cut it out. That’d be a good start. And second, it’s time for the coaching fraternity to face itself in the mirror and realize it can’t operate like some secretive club that only ever looks out for itself. Now, this coaching fraternity, on the football side, is ostensibly organized under the American Football Coaches Association. It’s time for that group to find some teeth and start using them. But until both of these things happen, we’re going to spend more and more time as fans of college football talking about things that aren’t happening on the field at all.