College football's dirty business has ceased to shock, and that's a shame
Dodd: The business of big-time college football has gotten so dirty that nothing really shocks anymore. Chalk it up to scandal fatigue and an amateurism model that appears broken beyond repair.
I've got scandal fatigue. You too, probably.
I've got scandal fatigue because college sports has officially ceased to surprise. Nothing is new when it comes to shameteurism. Oklahoma State was given the ol' proctology exam by Sports Illustrated. Miami became a sympathetic figure because an NCAA scandal trumped the Nevin Shapiro scandal. Johnny Football's autographs are so yesterday. He became the first player in known history not to speak to the media during game week on the advice of his lawyers.
It's so absurd and it's so, well, old. Most of all, it's business. This is the way things are done these days. You can condemn it, but you can't stop it. Not to any huge extent. When the Miami case is finally decided it may be that the harshest penalties were self-imposed (two bowl bans). Only in the NCAA are you encouraged to drive your car into a wall so a towing company will have something to do.
You don't have to accept it, but you can't ignore it. That's where we are with modern college athletics. These aren't necessarily revelations, they're speeding tickets. "Hey, look, Bama got pulled over." We know the "what." Players sometimes get paid under the table, cheat on tests and have sex with coeds.
Now we need to know what's next.
NCAA enforcement is diminished. Governance reform is on the way but it seems the suits are running the asylum. A stipend for players? Tell me $2,000-$3,000 more a year above the table for those Cash Cowboys in Stillwater would have made a difference in the under-the-table handouts.
"The notion that a kid can't get a pizza on Saturday night, that's certainly not true," one prominent administrator told me. "Not that there aren't kids that don't have significant needs. [But] I always say, show me a kid who doesn't have a cell phone."
It's already become Groundhog Day in our little corner of the world. Wash, rinse, repeat, report scandal. The secondary fallout has become as salacious -- and more interesting. There's the story, then a cadre of Twitter minions picking apart the story. There was media sniping related to the SI series on Oklahoma State. Saban cut reporters short Wednesday who dared ask a $5 million coach about a former Tide player being a runner for agents to deliver cash transfers to All-American tackle D.J. Fluker. Fluker now plays for the Chargers after being taken 11th in last April's NFL Draft.
Oklahoma State AD Mike Holder apologized to someone or other before the SI story broke. Cue more Twitter outrage.
(Disclaimer: In no way am I criticizing the fine reporting we/they have all done. These folks are colleagues and friends. They're/we're the reason I'm writing this column. There would be no fatigue unless we were continually confronted with this stuff. Change is coming. I just don't know in what form or when.)
Here's a reason scandal doesn't resonate anymore: Given the bulk of reported impropriety, Oklahoma State has underachieved. Anyone who paints the program as a "national power" has swung and missed. It's on a nice little roll lately but it's a top-15 program at best – maybe -- not a top five.
If anything, Okie State hasn't won enough considering it had the added advantage of T. Boone Sugardaddy's cash infusion. The Cowboys won the Big 12 in 2011 but have finished higher than third only four times since 2000. In that span, the team's winning percentage is .602.
Scandal doesn't move the needle much anymore because it's not a surprise. It's the way of the world. The only thing that changes is the name on the front of the uniform. Miami yesterday, Oklahoma State today, Alabama tomorrow.
It's all bad and keeps getting worse. I just wonder who's in charge, what changes and what's next?
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