S omething is wrong with college football. It is not the fans. It is not the media. It is not talk radio. It is not Paul Finebaum. It is not the Internet.
So, what is wrong with college football? The people involved with it. Players are acting like immature, entitled brats and the leadership acts like a caricature of Scrooge McDuck seeking only to add more currency to their golden vault.
It seems like a century ago that Tim Tebow was playing college football and giving fans a positive example. Today we are besieged with the new face of college footbal—Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. Unlike Tebow, Manziel is not a role model.
Manziel behaved badly toward the Mannings during his visit to the Manning Passing Academy. He provided lame excuses during SEC Media Days. The best he could deliver was an assertion of his status as a child.
Maybe it is time for Manziel to grow up. It is not good for college football to see more reports of his immature behavior. According to one report, Manziel was kicked out of a frat party one day, and some time later “photographed with drug paraphernalia.”
Everyone is asking what this immaturity means for the NFL and the NFL Draft. Can Johnny Manziel handle the NFL? The kid can’t even handle college football. Could you imagine the PR nightmare if he were unleashed on a city with the potential mischief of a New York, Miami or LA (if the NFL ever returns to that market)?
Of course, Manziel is not the only player acting in an immature manner.
What is it with players flashing wads of cash? Even if there is nothing suspicious going on, it raises significant questions about the sanctity of college football and its commitment to amateurism. (Check out an Alabama signee flashing a wad of cash.)
While flashing cash does not rise to the level of past NCAA scandals, there are serious issues present in today’s college football. The game endured the most significant blow to its credibility during the Cam Newton scandal. Newton’s father, a preacher, admitted to shopping his son for cash to Mississippi State. Of course, everyone is supposed to believe he shopped his son to one school, but not the school where he eventually signed.
Nobody outside of Auburn believed that nonsense.
It gave the NCAA and the SEC a black eye.
Not content to let the SEC suffer reputation harm, other conferences, in their own greed, have injured their own reputations.
Look at the Pac-12’s reaction to Grand Canyon University’s move into the WAC and Division 1. Grand Canyon happens to be a for-profit school. According to a report from Inside Higher Ed, some analysts see the move as greedy in an era of the Pac-12’s $2.7 billion deal with ESPN and Fox.
“The gesture by the Pac-12 schools may be driven by snobbism at best and pecuniary self-interest at worst,” said Trace A. Urdan, a senior analyst with Wells Fargo, who typically has a favorable view of for-profits, told Inside Higher Ed.
It is a damning analysis, and unfortunately likely true given the billion-dollar nature of college sports.
Another important quote from the story exposes this fact. “College sports are clearly for profit,” said McCann, who is also a law professor. “The days of pure amateurism have been gone for years if not decades.” (Check out the entire story if you are interested in the business of college sports.)
The Pac-12 are prostitutes upset that someone has moved in on their street corner.
The arrogance of state universities in this case is driven by a desire to protect their financial turf against incursion. These state institutions did a poor job responding to the changing shape of education demand spurred by the Internet. This is what allowed the rise of so many online programs from for-profit institutions. Now, these same schools fear competition on the athletic field.
Do not be deceived. This has nothing to do with students and everything to do about dollars.
So, when college football seems messed up, you can find fault with the personalities involved in the entire business. The players who are immature and the executives who greedily exploit our passion.