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Bowled over by the NCAA's hypocrisy

"We should pause now, before the trumpets really start to sound, and the luxury suites begin to ring with the barely disguised corporate corruption and plutocratic deceit, and before the entire shiny new circus of the College Football Playoff (presented by Gigantocorp, a Monstro company) descends on Jerry Jones' monument [descriptive reference removed] in the vast real estate desert outside of Dallas."

The foregoing quote comes courtesy of Charles P. Pierce, and is how he opened his Grantland column last Friday.

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To date, 38 bowl games have been played this (college football post) season; with one left to be played a week from today.

In the words of the immortal Keith Jackson, "Whoah Nellie!"

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Of those too many to be counted bowl games, only one, Jackson's beloved, "Granddaddy of Them All," the Rose Bowl (game) was played sans a title or presenting sponsor's name elongating the game's name. (Part facetious and part rhetorically speaking: If the Rose Bowl Parade pays homage to its eponymous Bowl game with thematic floats 100 percent made from flowers, what would, say, the Gildan, Famous Idaho Patato, Popey's Bahamas, Bitcoin, Duck Commander, Chic-fil-A, New Era Pinstripe, Lockheed Martin Armed Forces, or GoDaddy Bowl parades look like or be thematically tied to?)

Counterintuitively to the idea of a playoff, six bowl games were played after college football's inaugural final four-styled games were played on New Years Day, er, on the evening and night of New Year's Day; none of which were the playoff's championship game, which, again, won't be played until a week from tonight; and, all of which were played by and between lesser teams, in games sponsored by the likes of Tax Slayer, Valero, TicketCity and GoDaddy.

At the risk of sounding older than I am, or like a certain self-described curmudgeon (per his Twitter account) that I happen to be related to, what happened to having a handful of meaningful bowl games on New Years Day?

And, at the risk of sounding antiquated, why not play the College Football Championship Game next Saturday? If you're trying to attract kids to your sport, why start a championship game after 8:30 on a school night? Better yet, as we're talking about college kid-participants, why not play the semi-final bowl games a week after final exams, or the weekend before Christmas, and the championship game on New Year's Day, with kickoff in the afternoon?

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Because it's a business.

In an article on Jim Harbaugh's hiring as the next head coach at Michigan, Adam Rittenberg wrote that "no American football conglomerate reveres its history and tradition like the Big Ten. No institution within the Big Ten reveres its history and tradition like Michigan. Rittenberg went on to suggest that, "programs like Purdue, Illinois, Indiana and Northwestern can't spend like Michigan spends, but they have to stretch themselves to keep up. They have to ask themselves: Are we doing all we can to max out?"

No mention of "schools" or "universities," and certainly no mention of "student-athletes."

As Pierce points out about the inaugural College Football Playoff, "there never was a chance that the four teams picked for the first one of these were going to come from anywhere except from among the sport's most prominent brands. Ohio State would have had to have lost to Michigan and then fallen into a lake before it would have been excluded. Truth be told, and all things being equal, which they never are, TCU and Baylor lost their chance in a boardroom somewhere long before anything happened on the field. The format may be new, but the calculations of the people who organize college sports haven't changed at all."

In his post-game presser, Ohio State's Urban Meyer said, "My concern, and I think I'm probably going to address it again, is … are we going to get [the players'] families to Dallas? We should. That should happen immediately. There should be an immediate committee meeting somewhere say these families, 'Let's get them to Dallas and watch their sons play in college football history.' And I hope you all write that. That's more important than anything else being said today."

As Pierce pointed out, "that, of course, is a nod toward the great issue of compensating the people who do the real work, the indefensible system that is threatened still in several venues. What we have here is yet another example of the kind of revenue you can generate with largely unpaid labor and, within two years, the revenues will be nothing short of staggering. You can hear it in their voices, in the way the players have adjusted in their own minds to playing for greater sakes."

I get up at 4:30 a.m. for work. So, next Tuesday, much like last Friday, I'll find out who won the morning after, which, while highlights are fun to watch, is nowhere near as exciting or as brand affinity-building as watching the game unfold in real time.

Matt Laczkowski is a Times sports columnist. His column appears every Monday. Reach him at 410-857-7896 or sports@carrollcountytimes.com.

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