We live in a world where few things are “shocking”. With the invention of instant communication, we are exposed to so much more information than generations previous. And I guess that’s the most amazing thing about this whole episode with the University of Miami football program that Yahoo! broke yesterday. It still comes off as inherently “shocking”, even though we’ve seen NCAA rules broken before (just this summer with Jim Tressel being forced out of Ohio State), and even on such a broad basis as to warrant the so-called “Death Penalty” (SMU in the 1980s).
But this...this just blows my mind. It’s such overt corruption and blatant continued massive rule-breaking that it’s almost hard to believe. As Spencer Hall of SBNation writes “This, THIS is a masterpiece. Take notes. Mark its contours, its shapes, its utter completeness. Perfection is a rarity; treat it with the respect it deserves, like a rare whale cruising beneath the tiny prow of your boat on the open seas.”
So the question becomes, where does the NCAA go from here? I know they have been reluctant to use the “Death Penalty” after what happened to SMU, but they would almost HAVE to use it here, no? The Mustangs got theirs for committing two major violations within two years, but there’s a lot more in this whole Miami thing (and over a much longer period of time). Paying players is one thing, but here you’ve reportedly got everything from providing players mansions and endless strippers and hookers to providing enough cash that Scrooge McDuck could take a dive in it and swim around.
If the NCAA considers itself an organization with any kind of “moral authority” left to “protect amateurism” (it does, and its stated mission is completely different from its actual mission, but that’s a complete other story), the “Death Penalty” can’t be off the table here. The problem, though, is that Miami football is not SMU football, which had been on-and-off terrible for decades before turning into a powerhouse almost overnight. Going back to the 1980s, Miami has been one of the most successful programs in major college football, one of the big “names” in the sport, and has such an extensive pro alumni network that they all refer to it as “the U” in their player introductions on Sundays.
How do you effectively “kill” something that’s almost bigger than the sport itself? What happens if we turn on the TV one day and find something just as bad, if not worse, at an SEC school (like, I don’t know...Auburn?). Maybe it’s time we take off this whole antiquated notion of “amateurism” and start referring to college football what it actually is -- a multi-billion dollar business that serves as a minor league for the NFL and makes effective use of getting labor for free.
I shudder to think of how we will be “shocked” by the next set of allegations in major college football. The worst part is, it’s probably out there already - we just haven’t heard about it yet.