Sitting to write this on Saturday morning, I certainly can't offer up any thoughts or impressions, a recap, or any takeaways from the Ravens' game on Sunday.

And, sitting to write this on Saturday morning, I can't tell you that what I'm about to write doesn't turn out to be completely wrong — at least not if you believe in "miracles."


After the first week of the 2016 college football season kicked off with a number of marquee matchups between College Football Playoff hopefuls, this week's slate of games has been labeled by some as "Style Points Saturday" — a moniker given because, miracles aside, a number of the FBS' top teams are playing FCS schools from football's so-called subdivision. With playoff qualification math somewhat of a moving target, the question for top-ranked teams playing schools they're likely paying to play them this week is not if they will win, but by how many (so-called "style") points.

After this week, an asterisk may be needed next to Florida State in the weekly rankings if/when the Seminoles leapfrog Clemson and Alabama — potentially hanging 100 on Charleston Southern (they won 52-8).

What was already going to be a mismatch took a turn toward what should be a genuine concern for player safety when news broke Friday that more than 30 Charleston Southern players, including the entire starting offensive line, was going to be suspended for Saturday's game. As the day unfolded, the school stated it would stagger the suspensions such that ("only") 14 players would miss Saturday's game.

But, if the game was going to be ugly before the bevy of suspensions ... Why were the players suspended?

As best as it has been described: The players had a few extra dollars left over from their scholarship book allotment and were told by employees of the school's bookstore to grab some extra pens, notepads, notebooks, and other school supplies.

Yes, one day after NCAA President Mark Emmert spoke about how his organization is going to look into rethinking/revising a decade-plus old rule that allows NCAA athletes that compete in certain sports in the Olympics to retain certain monetary awards given to them by their countries' Olympic governing bodies for winning medals, these Charleston Southern players were suspended for purchasing school supplies.

To further handicap an already undersized, underdogged, FCS, Charleston Southern team by seeking to proactively prevent later having to vacate a ... I can't even finish that sentence.

Charleston Southern's athletic director, admittedly in a bit of a bind, is self-imposing the suspensions to prevent having to later vacate the game (and/or other games) in the event the NCAA were to inquire, investigate, and levy some sort of punishment for student-athletes "improperly" using book money to buy pens, notepads, highlighters, etc.

But, philosophically speaking, if you're almost assuredly going to lose the game without a dozen-plus of your best players, wouldn't you roll the dice on a miracle upset with a full roster, taking a chance that not even the NCAA in all its hypocritical glory would strip your school of such a monumental win?

Could such a scenario be the tipping point for reform? Again and/or especially if the underlying "violations" were for something as silly as student-athletes using monies defined as/for books to buy supplies in the school's bookstore.

Is the AD playing sports statistics semantics? Is there a difference between a loss in the archives versus a game that was later vacated? Couldn't self-reporting the violation suffice, particularly given the timing and context?

Leaving aside for a moment the obvious arguments and/or points to be made about financial inequities among and between FBS powerhouses and FCS double-wides (if you will), and to not so subtly play on the more sympathetic point of player health and safety: Charleston Southern is already putting its players in a position that was, at least before the suspensions ... again, I can't even finish the sentence.

Yes, for a kid from an FCS school to get the chance to run into Doak Campbell Stadium is a once-in-a-lifetime rush. But, unlike Appalachian State playing in the Dean Dome, UMES at Xfinity Center, or NJIT at Cameron Indoor Stadium, Charleston Southern's student-athletes have a heightened likelihood of getting hurt. And, with members of their starting offensive line sidelined for NCAA violation tomfoolery, Charleston Southern's kids, including its quarterback, are at an increased risk of getting Joe Theismann-style blind-sided, crippled, concussed, and/or critically injured.

Charleston Southern is likely getting a pretty good pay day to play FSU. If, as a university you're going to take the pay day, you've got to let all your kids play. All of them.


At least at full strength, with their most skilled kids on the field, they'll reduce their collective and individual risks of getting hurt. Who knows, with a miracle, they may even get a win.

But, to suspend two dozen plus kids for using book money to buy pencils and pens — and to do so while pointing to the potential to have to vacate such a would-be (fantastical) win — is an affront to any sense of student-athlete fairness, and worse, to those student-athletes' well being and safety.

Maybe Jimbo Fisher will hang 100 on Charleston Southern (playing with one hand tied almost literally behind its back) by the third quarter. Or, maybe he'll show a bit of sportsmanship where it may otherwise be lacking — choosing to do what's right rather than running up the score on an almost defenseless opponent.

Hopefully the College Football Playoff committee would reward him for that too, even if it doesn't fit into their scoring rubric or selection algorithm.