I hope that all of you enjoyed the very best Thanksgiving imaginable yesterday! It's a great holiday as I can't think of much more to be thankful for than the opportunity itself, to gather with those that are closest to you, and be thankful for each other and all things wonderful in our lives...and then to eat more than one might think possible and come back for more at the slightest hint of digestion, only to pile on with the leftovers in the following days. Yes, in the end, I am mostly thankful for gluttony, but that other stuff is important too. And so is football.
I write this ongoing series of college football, partially because I love to do it, but also because I really want to see it through to the end. In the future though, I think I will limit the number of series type blogs that I take on, mainly because there are some weeks in which there is little time to write anything else and this week is a perfect example: The National Dog Show that we watched yesterday. Just in case you and your family thought it necessary to watch Tom Brady annihilate the Detroit Lions, I'll save you the suspense, the Irish Setter won...impressive performance. Ordinarily one might think it difficult to opt for the dog show over football, but our Mom LOVES the dog show, and to tell you the truth, that makes me really enjoy watching it with her. It's not like it's figure skating or something. Besides, I had a girlfriend once who told me that she would break up with me for Tom Brady and rather irrationally, I've been jealous ever since. It's not like I dislike the man, I rather enjoy watching his craft and he does start on my fantasy team, but let's face it, I'm yet to date a girl that would dump me for an Irish Setter, although I'm sure this is coming soon. Incidentally, should a girl I'm dating ever indicate that I would be on the outs for this guy, I would immediately spare her the suspense and break up with her on the spot. If you're keeping track at home, that makes the score: Tom Brady 1, Irish Setter 0, Justin Bieber -1.
Anyway, as I write this, the Auburn-Alabama game is already underway, so let's get on with the rankings for this week (games already played since last weekend not included):
1 Auburn (11-0)
2 Oregon (10-0)
3 LSU (10-1)
4 Boise State (10-0)
5 Stanford (10-1)
6 TCU (11-0)
7 Michigan State (10-1)
8 Wisconsin (10-1)
9 Ohio State (10-1)
10 Alabama (9-2)
11 Arkansas (9-2)
12 Virginia Tech (9-2)
13 Oklahoma State (10-1)
14 Texas A&M (8-3)
15 Nebraska (9-2)
16 Missouri (9-2)
17 Oklahoma (9-2)
18 South Carolina (8-3)
19 Nevada (10-1)
20 Mississippi State (7-4)
21 Florida (7-4)
22 Utah (9-2)
23 Iowa (7-4)
24 Penn State (7-4)
25 Michigan (7-4)
Obviously, the games today and tomorrow are very important, but this Iron Bowl going on as I write this might be most significant of all. And so far, Alabama is killing it, impressively already up 14-0. But with Cam Newton, it sure isn't over yet. Cam Newton, the likely Heisman winner, has made this Auburn team nearly unstoppable this year and while it may be all coming to an end right before my eyes, it's not the most unfortunate part of the run that Auburn has made in this 2010 season. This is.
So I had a poll about it, thanks for participating if you chose to. The results were about even between two of the options, one that simply receiving the scholarship for their efforts was plenty enough for the player to receive, and the other that the player should receive some additional compensation, but that there should be very strict guide-lines and regulations to the amount that a player could potentially be awarded. Those are fine options, I suppose, but it was interesting to me how little support my readers offered the options of the kind of compensation that might be more in line with the value that they might be bringing an institution.
Don't get me wrong, I understand all of the opinions offered, but here's what I can't seem to get past as I give this question more and more thought: the NCAA seems to be completely incompetent when it comes to regulating these restrictions in the first place. And it's infuriating. Take Cam Newton, or at least the best to my knowledge as to what is going on with his situation:
1) The NCAA has been aware of his possible violations since January of this year.
2) Nothing came out about them until deep into this fall, at a time in which Auburn was already something like (9-0) and Newton was very much atop the Heisman leaders.
(3) His "violations" seem to revolve around his father, a pastor, who's not so affluent church has recently undergone some pricey renovations.
By the way, Auburn is now in the process of not only losing their first game, but getting destroyed by Alabama, now 21-0 with Auburn punting, and a good punt it was not.
Anyway, there is undoubtedly more to the whole Cam Newton situation than I've listed here, but those 3 elements alone should be enough to really make you scratch your head. First off, the religion thing...uh...yeah think of that what you like...but I think for the purpose of this blog, I'll just move on. More importantly, two questions, one, what is taking the NCAA so infuriatingly long to sort through this mess? This is the top Heisman hopeful on a leading national championship contender (although, it's now 24-0 Alabama, a party in Tuscaloosa) we are talking about, one would think that a situation such as this would be a heavy portion on the plate of investigations to made. Secondly though, at what point should we accept that these are kids, and not always financially stable kids at that, surrounded by greedy individuals more than willing to toss good intentions to the wind in order to exploit their athletic talents for their own financial gain?
It seems to me, that the only people, families, institutions, agents and NCAA alike, who are prohibited from seeking financial stability in the first place, are the kids themselves. What if Cam Newton's father got together with an agent and worked this deal out on his own? Will the father be punished? No. The agent? No. Cam Newton? Hell yes, take away his trophy, his national championship and bury him in the press. Auburn might suffer, but honestly, how much? Will they still make money? Of course they will! This was well worth the attempt for them; they're in the SEC, atop the college football world, and that isn't likely to change, violations and penalties or not.
Just accept it. Is it really all about the kid's education anymore? Is it at all about that? Do you care about Cam Newton's Geology class? Do people google "Cam Newton" "Geology class"? Do people like me write blogs about it? No, it's about M-O-N-E-Y, money that we make possible every time we go to a game, every time that we watch a game on TV, every time that we argue about who is best and who is awful. We all sit here in our smug little educated worlds and suppose that what we value in our lives is what these kids should value as well. Except most of us can't play football like Cam Newton. Most of us don't have greedy jackals surrounding us, looking to take any opportunity possible to get their unearned share of our accomplishments. And even if we did, it's clear that the NCAA or any other institution wouldn't be able to protect us anyway.
I say pay the kids...not necessarily the schools, but if outside entities want to provide the kids their proper share, then why attempt to regulate what has already been shown to be too difficult to regulate anyway? It does seem to me that an unfair playing field would be inevitable, that the kids would undoubtedly go where the money is. But isn't that what we have already anyway? Are USC and Iowa State really on an even playing field as it is? No and it's ridiculous to think otherwise. Really, in the end, there are the greedy surrounded by the greedy, with heavy influence from the greedy to help the greedy make greedy decisions. At least the greedy few that actually have to put in the hard work to accomplish their goals should be the individuals benefiting the most from it. And this just isn't happening.
Anyway, give it some thought, and as always, your comments are more than appreciated. Be back next week with more...have a great holiday weekend!