Tattoos, drugs, prostitutes, VIP club parties… Oh the joys of college football in 2011.
That will be the back story tonight as Ohio State takes on “The U” in what has been accurately dubbed “The Ineligibowl.” This was originally billed as a battle between two of the nations elite football powerhouses. Now, thanks to an offseason filled with a plethora of NCAA investigations and suspensions concerning improper benefits, this game has become a running joke; a spotlight for everything that is wrong with the NCAA, college football, and student athletes.
Ohio State started it all back in December in the days and weeks heading into their Sugar Bowl matchup with the Arkansas Razorbacks, a game that would become one of the best of the bowl season and one that I attended in person. Only apparently I didn’t because Ohio State was forced to vacate the win and thus making it like the game never happened. Thanks for making the best sporting event I’ve ever attended meaningless.
It all stemmed from the selling of personal effects such as game used gear, jerseys, signed helmets, and awards given to them by the school in exchange for tattoos and other benefits. The most guilty of the offenders was star quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who has since bolted for the NFL. His absence has made the Buckeye offense a shadow of its former self. Joe Bauserman is no Terrelle Pryor.
Of course, Head Coach Jim Tressel was made aware of the alleged benefits, ignored the alarms, lied to everyone from his employers to the NCAA and played ineligible players. For his discretions, Tressell “resigned” back around memorial day weekend. Luke Fickell was installed as the interim head coach and Ohio State plummeted in the preseason rankings. Needless to say thanks to everything that has happened any hopes of a national championship have been smashed and if anything, the door has been opened for Michigan to make a comeback.
Things are even worse for Miami. Their problems go all the way back to the early 2000’s when they were at the top of the NCAA mountain. A booster, Nevin Shapiro, paid players excessive amounts of money, provided drugs and women, parties, and pretty much anything you can think of to Miami football players as recent as last season. Shapiro is in jail for other issues, the Miami football program and school is under major scrutiny, and dozens of their top players, including QB Jacory Harris have been suspended. Harris will be back for today’s game, but the stain of what happened still lingers.
Tonight’s game serves as a glaring reminder that the NCAA has issues. If these types of things go on at Ohio State and Miami, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that they are happening at other schools. In fact, we know they do. Auburn had issues last season regarding Cam Newton, USC has handed penalties for issues during the Pete Carroll, and even Oregon has been indicated in possible NCAA violations. In all honesty, it’s only a matter of time until the next big school turns up on the NCAA’s radar and puts the Ohio State and Miami issues distant memories. That’s how it works. That’s the machine that is the NCAA.
It’s a machine and a system that doesn’t work. It’s an outdated model that became obsolete when college athletics became a business rather than an extracurricular activity. Everyone’s out to make money and everyone wants to win at any cost. That’s the truth of the matter. It can’t be ignored.
How does anyone go about fixing it? I have no idea. No one does, but acknowledging the current model doesn’t work for anyone other than college administrators and their cash lined pockets would be a start.