National Columnist

Pokes, 'Noles ought to be ashamed of sketchy scheduling of Savannah State

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After an 84-0 pasting in Stillwater, Savannah State gets No. 6 Florida State this week. (AP)  
After an 84-0 pasting in Stillwater, Savannah State gets No. 6 Florida State this week. (AP)  

Oklahoma State was wrong to make the offer. Savannah State was wrong to accept. The final score was 84-0, which feels wrong to mention. What happened this past Saturday in Stillwater, Okla., was wrong across the board, except for the reaction of the crowd.

When the game started, 55,784 fans were on hand. Before it ended, more than 50,000 had left.

Not even fans want to watch that.

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You're up next, Florida State. Hapless, hopeless Savannah State visits Saturday, offering whatever's left of its pride. What will the score be when it ends -- and how many FSU fans will still be there to see it?

This is one of those stories where there's nobody to root for. Nobody in charge, anyway. The players at Savannah State? Sure, I'm rooting for them: to not get hurt. Don't give me the easiest argument at hand -- it's football, stupid; people get hurt all the time -- because it doesn't apply here.

Florida State vs. Savannah State? That's not football. That's a demolition derby, pitting a monster truck against a moped. FSU is bigger, stronger, faster, deeper, better. What would happen if a great college football team played a decent high school team? Tune in Saturday. See for yourself. It'll be 56-0 by halftime.

Florida State is shelling out $475,000 to beat up the worst Division I football team in the country. Savannah State is that, and both Oklahoma State and Florida State knew it before the season began. Savannah State has been a member of the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), formerly known as Division I-AA, for about a decade -- and in that time has gone 4-72 against schools its own size. You don't have to be a ranked BCS school to beat the hell out of Savannah State. Everyone's doing it.

That doesn't make it right, Oklahoma State. Nor for you, Florida State. Both schools have excuses, but they're flimsy. The excuses will fool their fan bases, but only because fan bases are willing to believe the company line, no matter how flawed it is.

Oklahoma State needed a game this season because of the massive conference realignment in recent years, which voided games all over the country and turned BCS schedule-making into a game of musical chairs. When the music stopped, Oklahoma State still had one open date for a home game.

So did Florida State in January, after West Virginia canceled its scheduled game this season at FSU.

Both schools, OSU and FSU, had a hole to plug and little time to plug it. But both schools had options. They are perennial Top 25 programs, Oklahoma State and Florida State. They have big-time donors, first-class facilities, recruiting budgets out the wazzoo. The night before a home game -- a home game -- schools like OSU and FSU pay for a plush hotel so players and staff can sleep in seclusion.

They're bathing in Benjamins, is my point, so let's not feel sorry for those poor, cash-strapped BCS schools. Oklahoma State and Florida State say they tried their best to avoid playing someone like Savannah State, but that's only a partial truth. Did they call a lot of schools? Absolutely. Did they get turned down, right off the bat, by a good number of those schools? Sure.

But money talks loudest, and if the price is right a game can always be purchased. At the end of the day, Florida State and Oklahoma State opted to write relatively meager checks to Savannah State -- which is no victim here.

Feel sorry for Savannah State? Nah, I don't feel sorry for Savannah State. It has spent the past decade demonstrating it doesn't belong in Division I football, but it chases the dollar anyway. Savannah State wanted this payday -- needed this payday -- and is willing to sacrifice the young men on its team to get it. The athletics director at Savannah State, whatever his name is, should be ashamed.

The same goes for the AD's at Elon and Murray State and Southeastern Louisiana. Those three FCS-level schools were outscored 193-13 by North Carolina, Florida State and Missouri last week. Maybe you didn't notice those scores, overshadowed as they were by that 84-0 monstrosity in Stillwater, but they happened.

The system sucks. We already knew that. But when the greed, gluttony and competitive imbalance rears its head in a moment like Oklahoma State 84-0 over Savannah State -- or like North Carolina 62-0 over Elon ... or like Florida State 69-3 over Murray State -- it makes you wonder why they bother. And why we watch.

Help is on the way, though. The four-team playoff coming to big-time college football will eliminate the ugliest of these games, because teams with national championship aspirations -- teams like Florida State and Oklahoma State -- will avoid FCS teams to protect their strength of schedule.

In the meantime, we'll get indefensible games like Oklahoma State-Savannah State, and indefensible quotes like this one from OSU coach Mike Gundy, who said after that 84-0 debacle, "We play the games that are scheduled and go on down the road."

As if the most successful coach in OSU history, and the highest-paid man on campus, had no say in scheduling Savannah State.

Your fans might believe it, Gundy, but not me. I can't believe the game was scheduled in the first place. Same goes for the travesty in Tallahassee, where Florida State, for the second time in five years, is opening with consecutive games against lower-division opponents. In 2008 the Seminoles beat Chattanooga and Western Carolina by a combined score of 115-7 -- which will seem competitive compared to what FSU ends up doing this season to Murray State (69-3) and Savannah State.

Down the road is Florida A&M, but the FCS-level Rattlers won't be in town Saturday. They'll be at No. 5 Oklahoma.

It'll be 49-0 at halftime.


Gregg Doyel is a columnist for CBSSports.com. He covered the ACC for the Charlotte Observer, the Marlins for the Miami Herald, and Brooksville (Fla.) Hernando for the Tampa Tribune. He was 4-0 (3 KO's!) as an amateur boxer, and volunteers for the ALS Association. Follow Gregg Doyel on Twitter.
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