Ohio State and Might Just Have Been the First Domino

There is no gloating to be done by Ohio State fans today.  Alabama might be in trouble for having players involved with a memorabilia scandal and now the University of Miami potentially in big trouble with a rogue Ponzi scheming booster, but these two situations – and any others that might arise – don’t absolve anyone or anything at Ohio State.  Sure, it might add some perspective to the things Ohio State and its players were involved with, but it will hopefully be good for everyone in the end.  Ohio State fans (this one included) largely sounded like babies when they said, “Oh come on!  You know everyone is doing exactly the same stuff.  The NCAA is a broken system.”  That’s the pain of being the first domino to fall.

Some will want to point at everyone else and say how much worse someone else’s violations were, but that ignores the larger point.  The NCAA has a system where the goals and benefits are so apparently misaligned that rule-breaking has become the norm, not the exception.  You can blame the players.  You can blame the boosters.  You can blame the NCAA and the schools.  At the end of it all, if this many big programs can’t figure out how to create an environment where players aren’t doing the wrong things, then it is the whole system.

Many Ohio State fans were trying to say that very thing when tattoo-gate broke and as Jim Tressel was holding press conferences and ultimately stepping down.  I am sure some Alabama fans and Miami fans were thinking it was a cop out for Ohio State fans to point the finger at the system only when they were under the spotlight.

Come to think of it, I bet Ohio State fans said the same thing about USC fans when they were going through the Reggie Bush / Heisman affair.  I know I was.  I was trying to delineate between recruiting violations and violations of players seeking out extra benefits after signing with a program.  While I still think there is a difference between the violations, I am ready to admit that trying to pretend like this isn’t all indicative of problems in the same overall ecosystem is problematic.

I don’t have any solutions.  There are many people who claim to have them.  Mark Cuban has proposed alternatives to the BCS, so I know there are people with far more resources who have already spent far more time thinking about it than I have.  I guess I just hope that as more and more programs are “exposed” we end up with some perspective on the realities of college sports and admit the truth about what is going on.  The only way to come to some kind of solution or conclusion is to first admit there is a pervasive problem as opposed to isolated incidents.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Andrew

    The NCAA continues to treat the symptoms while ignoring the disease. This shouldn’t be totally shocking to anyone (although the depth of it surprised even me, and I’m about as cynical as it gets with college football). And no amount of institutional punishment is over going to stop this kind of stuff from happening.

    I think once the super conferences form and withdraw from the NCAA, you will see a system that makes a lot more sense and finally uses some common sense in what players, coaches, administrators, etc can and cannot do.

  • mgbode

    so, what’s the list now in the last 2 years of major college football programs

    usc – from earlier, but sanctions only 18mo old
    unc
    ohio state
    oregon / lsu – same recruiting service
    bama – both memorbilia and coaches from ‘the U’ implicated + Dareus was taking $$$ from booster/agent
    georgia – aj green taking $$$
    auburn – Cecil Newton still doesn’t sit right + HBO special
    miami
    gatech – player received stuff from agent (ACC Champ rescinded)

    then there was that whole Fiesta Bowl thing

    and as Stewart Mandel pointed out the AD for Miami during their transgressions was the same guy that publicly was lambasting USC for their lesser transgressions.

    I’m sure I missed a bunch.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Andrew

    Texas – According to Mrs Colt

    Boise State

    LSU – Les Miles is on probation for recruiting violation

    Tennessee – Lane Kiffin was listed in their NOA

    Michigan – This one’s weak, but they violated practice rules

    And I’m sure there are even more that I’m currently forgetting.

  • mgbode

    @Andrew – I agree and am wondering if this recent rash w/ more to come is going to help push public sentiment towards those super-conferences when the next BCS contract is up (2014 I believe)

  • mgbode

    Thanks for the assist Andrew. just remembered the $100K Pouncey scandal at Florida too.

    And if history is any guide, now that Oklahoma football is dominant again, a scandal is not too far off (Switzer days to Rhett Bomar, they are always good for a scandal).

  • 2cents

    NCAA = High School Hall Monitors. It’s time for change.

  • REEPJP

    Tennessee had all the Bruce Pearl stuff too

  • http://gooddoctorzeus.blogspot.com DocZeus

    As long as you have a system where billions of dollars are being made and when the lion’s share is going to the adminsistrators and the schools, there will be mass corruption and players going around the system to get “theirs.” No amount of sanctions, punishments or preventative measures will be enough to stop it.

    There is only one measure that will ensure corruption will end and that is to allow players to recieve compensation or ending the rules against “improper benefits.” Players know what they are worth and should be entitled to take it.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    Here’s a solution…

    How about real minor league football. The NFL has gotten fat over the last several decades by using college football as a free farm system. They’ve gotten away with it with an arbitrary “2 Years Out of High School” rule and an anti-trust exemption.

    It’s time to tell the NFL that they can’t have it both ways and force players to attend college to get drafted.brepealing the 2 year rule would allow the best players that aren’t interested in a college education to go straight to the pros. That way, the NCAA could ACTUALLY look at student athletes and say, “you don’t want to play for free? There’s the door…nobody’s stopping you.”

  • christopher

    @cbus…i am totally with you;

    the NCAA issues get compounded by the NFL labor agreements and drafting rules. removing the compound issues, for an actual minor league farm system and you have the first step in the correction of the problem.

    problem is every school will gladly take a slap on the wrist now and again as long as the money keeps pouring in. so they really don’t care that they get sanctioned or violations every so often.

    You think what happened to OSU/USC is slowing the money down for those programs? I personally don’t think so.

  • REEPJP

    @Kevin….I was trying to think of something along those lines as well…maybe tying in the UFL or some version of a minor league system.

    I have another idea….what if the NFL Draft worked like the NHL Draft? Here’s an explanation I found for the NHL and modified for the NFL:

    All being drafted does is determine who owns your rights.

    1) Players do not have to declare themselves eligible for the NFL draft, as long as they will be 18 by September 15th of the year in which they are to be drafted.
    2) Being drafted gives that team the right to a junior aged player for
    a) 2 years from the draft date if the player is draft eligible for the first time and playing in the UFL
    b) 6 years from the draft date if the player is draft eligible for the first time and playing in the NCAA (two years after leaving school max)
    c) In perpetuity for a player from anywhere other than a US Based Team (CFL?) or University who was drafted by an NFL team.

    In the case of a foreign player, after 4 years, he is free to get a release from his draft team and sign elsewhere as a free agent without compensation to the drafting team.

    Where Players Play
    1A) Any player who has been drafted, and has not signed a professional contract, may continue to play in college so long as he is still junior eligible

    1B)The NFL and UFL have an agreement where any player who has signed an NFL contract, but does not make the NFL club, must play in the UFL until he no longer has junior eligibility. This agreement can be waived to allow players to develop Elsewhere.

    2) Any drafted player is free to play in the NCAA so long as he
    a) has not engaged the services of an agent
    b) has not sign a professional contract
    c) has NCAA eligibility remaining
    d) has not been caught accepting illegal benefits

  • Stinkfist

    If all this stuff came up in the early summer, the NFL’s problems would have looked minor. Is the NCAA getting stricter or are more and more schools overstepping their bounds to compete? I don’t know, but like you said Craig, more and more of this is going to come up.

    CBus – you’re right to an extent, especially on the minor-league-esque system the NFL is using and the whole “here’s to door” idea. But, I don’t mind the 3 year rule, most kids just aren’t ready whether they think so or not.

    Reep – I am slightly familiar with the NHL system, but I still think that college players will get into the same problems. They would care even less than they do now because if they get caught, who gives a s**t… they can literally leave whenever because they’re already drafted. Regardless, it would probably be an improvement

  • tribefan30

    Punishing the players could also help solve the problem. Right now, before a player breaks a rule, the consequences to consider are pretty light. Sure they recieve some public backlash, bad PR. But who cares. They just go to the NFL and get paid and move on while the school is left to pick up the pieces. Not sure exactly how, but if they found a way to go pack and punish the players involved would make the players think twice. Maybe an NFL ban for any player involved in a scandal. If your still in school, you have to wait a year before a draft. If your already in the NFL, you have to sit out a year without pay? Something like that would help in my opinion.

  • Matt

    agree with @13

    Any violation in college delays your draft eligibility by a year. Skilled players behave to get the real money. Unskilled players can reap benefits (that I believe they should be sharing in) since they won’t get drafted.

  • Stinkfist

    I like the idea of punishing players, and hell, coaches too (ahemmmm, Calipari). The problem with the idea though is that the NFL would never be on board. They don’t care, or at least not enough to lose their revenue generators for a year. And really, not that many players are fortunate enough to make it to the NFL. But yes, holding each and every level (players/coaches/boosters/school) accountable is necessary, and greatly lacking

  • saggy

    as the system stands, you must punish coaches. period.

    i would either implement a minor league, a la NHL or soccer, or just allot for the academic scholarship to cover an extra $500 of expenses per month for each player.

    I got money for school – and my parents didn’t have much so i had to get a job. i didn’t play football or basketball so nobody cared. but without that job i couldn’t have afforded to pay rent or buy food. they simply need to add $ to the scholarships. it won’t kill the extra stuff, but by that point, it won’t matter as much.

    i still don’t understand why college athletes aren’t able to sell stuff. You’re telling them that if they move out of their apartment they aren’t allowed to put their furniture on cragislist. that’s just dumb.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com DP

    The NHL is an interesting model. Maybe two or three players at the very tippy-top of the NHL draft actually play in the NHL in that same season. Most guys go back to their junior team (Canadian equivalent of late-HS/early-college hockey) and then once they’re 19 they move on to the AHL, which is basically AA/AAA baseball.

    They also do a sort of “draft and follow” for guys that want to play college hockey in the states. For example, Columbus drafted a guy three years ago in the sixth round. He went to Boston College, led the NCAA in goals scored the past two seasons, and now after his junior year he’s signed a pro contract.

    The only rub is these guys do NOT get paid until they sign and start playing on their entry-level contracts. For example, Columbus’s first round pick from last year signed an entry-level-deal, but it doesn’t actually kick in until he starts playing “pro” hockey, which Canadian juniors is not.

    It’s not perfect for the issues at hand, but it’s a start.