We already know the new College Football Playoff to crown a national champion is rigged. (I said as much last month — I believe my exact words were, “The new system IS RIGGED.”) But no one much cares about that because watching, say, Alabama-Oregon for all the marbles is more entertaining on a cold January night than watching, say, “Law & Order: SVU.”
But what’s more disturbing is this: We also know big-time intercollegiate athletics — particularly the so-called “Power Five” conferences in Football Bowl Subdivision — remain a cesspool of indiscretion, malfeasance, excess, corruption, impropriety and academic squalor, with no one much caring about that, either.
For what it’s worth, Couch Slouch still cares.
To that end, let me state what will be abundantly obvious to some of you and abundantly preposterous to others:
Florida State is such a contradiction to the precepts of institutions of higher learning, it should be shuttered TODAY.
And North Carolina is such a contradiction to the precepts of institutions of higher learning, it should be shuttered, like, YESTERDAY.
I hate to single out FSU and UNC — it feels like going to the Rikers Island commissary and dragging away a couple of inmates for crimes against humanity — but both schools are an embarrassment to themselves and to higher education.
Today it is Florida State and North Carolina. Tomorrow it will be Miami or Southern Cal or Auburn or Syracuse or Kentucky.
They all make a deal with the devil — in this case, my poker employer, ESPN, often is the devil, and even when it’s not, the boys in Bristol are a nearby neighbor and come over a lot to borrow several cups of sugar — and the devil provides national exposure, TV revenue, marketing platforms and a cozy relationship with local law enforcement.
Nobody wants to upset the apple cart, even though the apples are rotten to the core.
There are two types of student-athletes: Those who are students, and those who are not. The latter is critical to the continued operation of big-time intercollegiate athletics, so universities climb out of their ivory towers to maintain the illusion these academic ne’er-do-wells are academically active.
Q. Why do they have a library on campus in Tallahassee?
A. To store extra copies of the football team’s playbook.
Florida State — School Motto: “Winning at All Costs in Broad Daylight” — delivers Jameis Winston onto campus every week because he never loses a football game. There is the alleged sexual assault incident, the BB-gun incident, the table-top obscenity incident, the shoplifting incident and a litany of other incidental bad stuff; however, at this point, if it were discovered Winston kidnapped the Lindbergh baby, FSU might bench him for, oh, one series.
Heck, if Winston were to sell military secrets to al-Qaeda and lead FSU to another national championship, I believe he would be a prohibitive favorite to become Florida’s next governor.
Over at North Carolina, many Tar Heels have dismissed two decades of academic impurities, as detailed in the recent Kenneth Wainstein report, which came after whistleblower Mary Willingham — who was treated like Marie Antoinette — shined a light on academic fraud there.
Typical is the reaction of North Carolina men’s basketball Coach Roy Williams. At the outset of a “SportsCenter” interview last month, Williams said, “You want to talk basketball, we’ll talk basketball. But I’m not going to rehash all that other crap.”
All that other crap?
That between 1993 and 2011, more than 3,100 UNC students, 48 percent of them athletes, took “phantom classes” in the Afro-American studies department? That 169 athletes, including 123 football players and 15 men’s basketball players, got a grade in a nonexistent class to keep their GPA above 2.0 for the semester? That Williams’s 2004-05 national title team included Rashad McCants, who says he didn’t write papers submitted in his name?
That actually is a lot of crap.
I guess I can’t blame Williams for wanting to flush it all down the toilet in the closest restroom to those phantom classes.
Q. In your column on Columbia University football, why was there nothing said about the famous beat novelist and poet Jack Kerouac, who attended Columbia in the early 1940s on a football scholarship? (Gus Gianikos; Martinsville, Ind.)
A. Uh, because I did not know Jack Kerouac attended Columbia on a football scholarship. Note to my Ivy League-educated readers: I am not as smart as I look; I barely graduated from Maryland.
Q. You celebrated Columbia football’s winless regular season and ignored MIT’s undefeated regular season. Do you simply prefer to revel in the failure of those smarter than you? (Glen Knowles; Albany, N.Y.)
A. No. I just didn’t know about MIT because, well, I went to Maryland and research isn’t my strength.
Q. Has NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell figured out how much God will be fined and/or suspended for burying Buffalo in seven feet of snow? (Michael A. Becker; Clayton, Mo.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.
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