College football all about the money
RICK TELANDER email@example.com December 28, 2010 10:24PM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
Seldom do you get hypocrisy laid out before you with such Martha Stewart perfection!
Maybe it’s the season — scissored snowflakes and scented candles — but this NCAA-Ohio State-amateurism-bowl game scandal is absolutely mirth-inducing.
Five Ohio State football players, including superstar quarterback Terrelle Pryor, have been suspended by the NCAA for five games next season for selling stuff like their Big Ten championship rings, jerseys and awards such as — I could not make this up — Pryor’s 2009 Fiesta Bowl sportsmanship award.
Here’s more: The players allegedly got tattoos at a discount at a Columbus parlor, though Pryor tweeted last week, ‘‘I paid for my tattoos. Go Bucks.’’
A couple of the players also sold their unfortunately named ‘‘Gold Pants’’ trinkets, gifts they received from OSU for beating Michigan.
I don’t know a whole lot about Ohio State football history, other than having curiosity about the M&M-looking mascot, respect for Rex Kern, Jack Tatum, Archie Griffin, Cris Carter, that painted-face James Laurinaitis dude, and the time former Buckeyes wide receiver Bruce Jankowski told me about an enraged Woody Hayes driving a tractor through a chained stadium door. But I think selling something called the ‘‘Gold Pants’’ charm is not a horrible thing to do.
Apologies all around
At any rate, the players have all apologized to the world and, specifically, ‘‘the Buckeye Nation.’’ They will pay back from $150 to $2,500, depending on their sins, and give it to charity. And, as starting running back Dan Herron said in a news conference Tuesday, “My hope is there will be a day when I am forgiven.”
Pryor echoed that, saying somberly, ‘‘Hopefully, I can someday get your forgiveness.’’
Wow. This is similar to what penitent, shackled, convicted murderers say before leaving court.
But here’s the good part — all the players get to play in the Jan. 4 Sugar Bowl.
Bad guys or not, they’re Ohio State’s good guys!
This seems akin to allowing counterfeiters one more day with the big copying machine before turning in their ink supplies.
But as Pryor said, ‘‘I didn’t mean to hurt nobody,’’ and neither does the NCAA or the Buckeye Nation.
Funny, but six years ago, Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith was suspended from the 2004 Alamo Bowl as soon as he was caught taking money from a booster.
But hypocrisy is what it is.
And it’s like snow flurries in a shaker in this one.
Consider, primarily, that nobody comes to a football game to see Ohio State coach Jim Tressel. And yet Tressel has a nine-year contract package with OSU worth $25 million. Consider that his benefits include personal use of a private aircraft for 20 hours each year, membership at a Columbus private golf course and, if he wins the national championship, ‘‘The Coach and the University agree to begin negotiating, in good faith, the terms of a new employment agreement.’’
And the players can’t even get discounted tats?
Why, why, why?
Why do star D-I players keep wanting cash? Why is that?
Why did USC’s Reggie Bush take that dough in college and ruin USC’s championship and then give back his Heisman Trophy?
Was it because his coach, Pete Carroll, made nearly $5 million a year and then skated to the NFL for more?
Why did Maurice Clarett, who scored the winning touchdown for Ohio State for its last national title (2002), seem to be all about money, before he went to prison?
Why did Keyshawn Johnson get investigated by the NCAA at USC? Why did the late, revered Hall of Famer Reggie White say he took money in college while at Tennessee?
The disconnect between what players — especially poor, minority ones — want, and what they’re allowed in D-I football, is stunning.
And it happens while all around them gorge on the profit pie.
Could it be these players just want their slice?
Why, mighty ESPN broadcasts 33 of the 35 bowl games. Think that monster’s purported sanctimony is real?
It’s incredible, but while players aren’t paid — and can’t sell what is rightfully theirs — Army head coach Rich Ellerson gets $50,000 just for beating Navy. He gets $150,000 if he beats both Navy and Air Force. University of California head coach Jeff Tedford gets a quarter-million dollars just to be head coach when the Bears move into their new practice facility next year.
And the money the coaches at Oregon, top to bottom, already have earned this season — sums that will increase wildly if the Ducks beat Auburn in the BCS championship game — is, in a word, indefensible.
Money, and power, are why Michigan recently named former Domino’s Pizza chairman and CEO David Brandon its new athletic director. With a sports budget of over $90 million, why not?
No end in sight
Does anybody remember when former longtime NCAA chief Walter Byers said, ‘‘I believe the athletes should have the same access to the commercial marketplace that the supervisors and overseers as well as other students have’’?
Anybody remember what Harold L. Enarson said in the late 1970s of big-time athletic departments: ‘‘They’re doing everything they can to imitate the commercial world, and I find that obscene’’?
Enarson was the former president of Ohio State.
The hilarity, and hypocrisy, never end.