Commentary | Q: What do college football fans need? A: Answers

adell@bradenton.comJune 12, 2011 

Some burning questions that must be answered so we can continue with our lives:

Answers provided are open to scrutiny and ridicule; Author not available for flogging.

Will the scandal at Ohio State change college football?

Doesn’t seem likely. Since the 1990s, Alabama, Auburn, Miami and Southern California were punished and received probation, then went on to win national championships. Banning teams from television and bowl games is not used much anymore because it negatively affects the market value of television contracts. Taking away scholarships looks good, and strong programs can survive a little disruption in recruiting. So despite a lot of rhetoric, don’t expect much.

To best sum it up, here is a quote from former NCAA Director Walter Byers: “College athletes don’t need more rules. They need new freedoms.”

Can a college football scandal turn out to be a good thing for a school?

All we have to do is turn back the clock to 1984, when Florida head coach Charlie Pell was fired after being hit with 59 NCAA violations. Galen Hall replaced him and stayed until 1989, when he was forced to resign amid another scandal. Steve Spurrier came in and turned the Gators into the national power they are today.

What is the worst college football scandal of all time?

Lots of candidates, but arguably the most disturbing is what occurred in Oklahoma at the end of the Barry Switzer era. This was more than routine charges of players being paid. In the first two months of 1989, an Oklahoma player shot his teammate, three players were charged with gang rape (two were convicted), and quarterback Charles Thompson was arrested on charges of selling cocaine to an undercover agent. Switzer quit before the next season, and Thompson was convicted. A Sports Illustrated headline might have summed it up when it said “How Barry Switzer’s Sooners Terrorize Their Campus.”

Why does Reggie Bush have to give back his Heisman Trophy, while O.J. Simpson gets to keep his?

The NCAA apparently believes there is nothing more sinister than a “student-athlete” taking money from a booster or agent or even selling tattoos. It makes one wonder if everything else falls into the “I forgive you” category.

How much do college athletes earn if everything is taken into account?

There are different opinions. Notre Dame professor and author Richard Sheehan used a formula that took into account estimated hours an athlete devotes to his sport and came up with hourly wage of $7.69 for football players and $6.82 for men’s basketball players.

Will colleges ever agree to pay their athletes?

Not likely, but the real push is for the NCAA to lift the restrictions on a top athlete’s ability to earn income off the field. The argument is that it’s not right for schools to sell memorabilia based on an athlete’s likeness and not have the player receive compensation even after he leaves the university. Proponents of change say players should be allowed to sign endorsement deals.

What is the best way to get money to the college athletes?

It takes some ingenuity, but here are some examples. Give them ATM access codes and, if possible, get someone else to do the transaction; accompany boosters on large item purchases and have the cashier pass the change on to the athlete; summer no-show jobs, gifts for relatives and friends, car loaners; all of the usual, including the old-fashioned handshake. It’s archaic but works.

What football coach survived a scandal only to lose his job due to poor performance on the field?

How Gary Barnett kept his job at Colorado in 2004 is astonishing. There was slander on top of slander that involved alleged sexual favors for recruits and insensitive remarks he made about a female kicker who said she was raped. He was temporarily suspended during the offseason but coached the Buffs to a division title and was named Big 12 Coach of the Year in ’04. He was fired in 2005 after losing the Big 12 title game 70-3 to Texas.

Who is the cleanest coach in college football?

This one is easier than an elementary math question. Penn State’s Joe Paterno can be ornery and difficult to deal with at times, but as college coaches go, he is clean as a whistle. Penn State is one of only two Division I-A teams (also BYU) to have won a national title and never been placed on probation. Other coaches may tell recruits JoePa is old and out of touch, but they can never attack his integrity.

What is the biggest player scandal involving gambling?

The one that could lead the pack happened during the 1996-97 academic year, when 13 Boston College players were suspended for allegedly betting on college and pro sports. Worst yet, SI reported that the district attorney in the case said two of the players bet against their own team in a 45-17 loss to Syracuse.

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis recently stated that a pro-longed NFL lockout will lead to more crime and violence. What makes him an expert in this field?

Lewis apparently has intimate knowledge of crime. He was arrested for a double murder in 2000. The charges were eventually dropped in exchange for his testimony in the case and a guilty plea to obstruction of justice. He reached a financial settlement with the families of the victims in a civil case. No one has ever been convicted for the killings, and Lewis has become an unofficial spokesman for professional football. Why he seems to be revered by the younger NFL players is a better question.

Why do so many people dislike the Miami Heat?

Couldn’t leave this one out.

Just when you might feel sympathy for LeBron James because of the criticism heaped on him, he and teammate Dwyane Wade fake coughs in front of TV cameras mocking Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki for being sick in Fame 4. This is something you would expect from junior high kids. Charles Barkley was right. It’s impossible to root for the Heat.

Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 745-2112.

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