This week, as Tech prepared for Tuesday’s Sugar Bowl against Michigan here in New Orleans, Carroll took his work to a larger audience at ESPN.com’s Page 2 with an unvarnished look at the excesses of the bowl system.
For those of us who advocate a playoff and retooling of secondary bowls, Carroll’s piece, linked here, is a blanket indictment.
Others who cling to tradition and/or believe athletes deserve more than a free education will find nothing wrong with Carroll’s revelations.
Below in the most telling passage:
“We're pampered with a smorgasbord of sweat suits and a shopping spree in the Graceland of electronic devices. We kick back in a four-star hotel on the Mississippi River, in one of the most vibrant towns this side of the ‘Old Man.’
“For the seven days we spend in New Orleans, we received a per diem check totaling $450.71. That equates to $64.39 in daily spending cash, when we already receive roughly two meals and two snacks from the team per day. The Sugar Bowl committee also brought us to a bowling alley, New Orleans' finest steakhouse and a Mardi Gras float parade that included a visit from the Saints' cheerleaders. What on Earth could we possibly need all this money for?
“Here's the scary part: I can think of a few options.
“Across the street from our digs is a 115,000-square-foot casino. Six blocks northwest of our hotel is the most decadent stretch of pavement known to man; trust me, men know it all too well. Bourbon Street boasts 10 gentlemen's clubs along its eight blocks. I'm not saying our players have succumbed -- I'm simply shedding light on the gravity of our temptations.
“And yet we're giving 18- to 22-year-old testosterone factories $64.39 per day to spend as they wish? Have we lost our minds?”
In a word, yes. Bowls have made pageantry primary and competition secondary, a priority that troubles Carroll no end.
“Even if we aren't enticed by the pleasures of this world,” he wrote, “the aforementioned lavish spoiling of players still breeds complacence and a sense of entitlement -- attitudes detrimental to the hunger of a team.
“In fact, diversions and temptations are so rampant during bowl week that the game itself hinges not so much on which team prepares better but which team gets less distracted. This isn't just a Sugar Bowl thing, either -- this has been a constant struggle at each of the four other bowls I have attended.
“The notion that coaches enforce a curfew during bowl week baffles me -- not because I've contracted night fever but because players actually need to be told to get home at a reasonable hour the week of the biggest game of their lives.”
Like any critic worth his keyboard, Carroll didn’t just complain. First, he thanked Sugar Bowl officials for their kindness and effort.
Then, most important, he offered an alternative.
“My advice: Do away with bowl week,” he wrote. “Schools should practice at their respective universities just as they would any other game week, arriving at the bowl destination the night before the game. No coeds on campus, no strip joints, no casinos, no extravagant gifts or cash rewards. … Just film, practice, more film, meals and some more film. …
“Bowl games should be about representing your university with excellence by winning -- forsaking all the debauchery that is so prevalent during bowl season. Let the fans show up a week early if they want. Hey, maybe even give the victorious team a free weeklong vacation at the bowl destination after the game; at least it would put the emphasis back on winning. …
“Please don't hear me making excuses for the ACC's abysmal 2-11 record in BCS bowl games, the conference's 2-4 performance this bowl season or Virginia Tech's 2-5 mark in BCS bowls since 1995; we take full responsibility for our lackluster showings.
“Whether or not distractions have played a part in our struggles, I have to give bowl week some credit -- it certainly tests teams' ability to rise above the garbage and remain focused. I'm hoping Tuesday's tango with Michigan will illuminate our conference's repentance from an enchanted view of bowl games. But regardless of the outcome, it will have been determined the week prior to the game -- not the night of.”
Carroll hails from Hopkins, Minn., and is the son of former NFL tight end Jay Carroll. He majors in marketing management and as a fifth-year senior is exiting the Hokies program.
Here’s hoping he continues to find outlets for his eloquence.
I can be reached at 247-4636 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me at twitter.com/DavidTeelatDP
Here’s a link to my Daily Press print columns, including those from here in New Orleans.