Illicit College Football

ibuck's picture
April 16, 2014 at 2:50p

After reading the NY Times piece on Jameis Winston's rape allegations and the "Meet the Bag Man" story, I get a really sick feeling about FBS football and about the standards of morality in the South. And about institutions like the SEC, ESPN, etc. that condone it. This institutionalized cheating gives tacit social approval of such activity, corrupting the moral standards of society. 

It also very troubling that university presidents and administrators all across the country are not outraged enough to distance themselves from schools and TV networks that allow and condone such behavior. IMO, at the least, they should go on record condemning the universities that allow these transgressions to go on. But it would be preferable for schools with a conscience to start a new division that excludes these "cheating" institutions. And perhaps bar schools that cheat from the national championship playoffs for 5-10 years. Being in the playoff should be a privilege, rather than an entitlement. That is, if your institution fails to investigate fully misconduct by the players and boosters, the school is ineligible for the playoff. Perhaps other bowls would want them, but not the playoff. Cheating, lying, over-signing or hiding behind flimsy legal artifices would make the team ineligible. Fair is fair. The other schools are observing the law and following ethical guidelines, and perhaps losing recruits because of it. Doing otherwise just encourages illicit behavior, and in turn, unethical or immoral behavior in society at large. 

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BrooklynBuckeye's picture

I think "morality of the south" isn't fair. The moral failure at Penn State far exceeds what happened at SMU or Miami.

I know the punishments are wildly inconsistent, but Ohio State is not innocent either. Clarett wasn't hung out to dry just because Andy Geiger was heartless. The administration took symptoms of an institutional problem (Clarett's SUV, stereo equipment, cash, and his own admissions of university academic fraud) and punished them strictly as personal transgressions (the same way they did with Chris Carter, Joey Galloway, Troy Smith, etc...). Sure, maybe these are all isolated incidents, but at the very least, it means that there were once also Buckeye bagmen. The basketball program was proven to have cheated during the O'Brien era as well. 

I'm not saying Ohio State is as bad as every athletic program, and the rape/pedophilia cases are far more serious than pay-for-play scandals and deals with agents, but let's face it, Ohio State wouldn't be allowed in your new division, strictly based on past behavior.

-1 HS
Squirrel Master's picture

I think you are confusing the SEC/ESPN biases with southern biases. FSU isn't an SEC school.

and really, this stuff has been around for a very long time and is only getting more pub now. Rape and scandals were also at SMU (as said above) as well as Oklahoma, USC: in the 80's, 90's, and even before that where most of it was swept under the rug by the almighty head coaches back then.

Go watch "The Program", filmed in 1993, to see how long all of this has been going on. Not just "the south".

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

-1 HS
ibuck's picture

Brooklyn & Squirrel, did you read the following in the Bag Man article?

"We can only get away with whatever's considered reasonable by the majority of the folks in our society. That's why it's different in the SEC. Maybe that's why we're able to be more active in what we do. Because no one ever looks at the car or the jewelry and says, 'How did you get that, poor football player?' They say, 'How did they get you that and not get caught, poor football player?'"

There might not be a cultural mandate, but describing an October Saturday in the South as a culture accepting of this behavior would be a raging understatement.

It was the article / bag man that indicted the South (and not just the SEC).  I know that neither Miami nor FSU are in the SEC. But it appears those schools have *had* similar cultures. I don't know for certain that there aren't bag men for OSU, but after the media witch-hunt, public records requests, etc, and endless coverage of the story, it sure seemed that Ohio State cooperated fully: they forced out a loved coach, barred Pryor and the Cleveland construction company owner from campus for 5 or more years, reorganized their scrutiny and accountability watchdogs outside the athletic department. Do hundred dollar handshakes with Buckeye athletes still occur ? Perhaps. But again, it sure seems less likely to happen here as in the South. 

My point isn't that OSU has completely eliminated the possibility. Rather I was decrying the culture of those who claim that secret payments are OK, or "not a big deal," or "it can't be stopped." As the article claimed the bag man asserted.  If true, the bribes to athletes, the over-signing with conference approval, the dumping of athletes who don't meet expectations, the blind eye (by schools, conferences, ESPN, police authorities, etc) turned to unethical, immoral or illegal behavior by athletes or boosters, all seem to indicate that this bs allows these schools to recruit and play more of the best athletes. Since 2000, how many teams from this region of the country have won national championships?  

And the payments to athletes contribute to the entitlement a lot of these athletes feel. And too often these entitled athletes' behavior is not acceptable, whether they are in school, in the NFL, or out of school. I'm sure we can all think of examples.  So I am simply urging us, as a culture, not to accept this behavior, whether by the athletes, the schools, the conferences, the alumni & boosters, the media, or the NCAA.

Finally, there's no denying that paying athletes and "boys will be boys" have been around for a long time. The universities don't allow a lot of things they used to do, and have instructed the NCAA to enforce the tougher rules. The world has changed, so bringing up what happened decades ago is not relevant, just like saying people of different races or sexual orientation can't marry.

BTW, I did not DV either of you.

Our honor defend, so we'll fight to the end !

If you can't win your conference, just quietly accept your non-playoff bowl game.

BrooklynBuckeye's picture

I see what you are saying. I think the south thing gets overblown, though. I know the bag man said the south is different but I think the present state of college football is a byproduct of a few things.

The three teams with the best shot of preventing the rise of the almighty SEC before it became what it is today were Miami, OSU and USC. All three of those schools are in big cities with real media. In cities with a strong media prescence, covering up transgressions becomes more difficult. Not surprisingly, these three programs were all derailed by media reporting transgressions.

I think when people say the south is different, what they really mean are small college towns surrounded by rural areas. It is way easier to coverup a DUI on some back roads near Tuscaloosa than on 315, but not because of the Mason-Dixon line. In Columbus you have a lot of people as potential witnesses and a lot of professionals (media, politicians, law enforcement, etc...) that may have career aspirations that would be jeopardized by being implicated in a coverup, or even being percieved as biased or negligent. In the same sense, Eugene, Oregon seems like a good place to get away with something, and despite plenty of rumors and unseemly affiliations, nothing has come out of there either.

But yes, there is a lot of talent in the south, and a lot of people apparently turning a blind eye, but I assume that happens a lot of places. People love football everywhere, but the higher the population density, the harder it is to hide its seedy underbelly.

ibuck's picture

You may have something about big cities, but couldn't it be cultural as well?  At OSU 2 athletes get caught and excoriated for peeing on a building in the dark. There are 375,371 people in the Tallahassee metropolitan area, so it's not small. Yet there wasn't even a half-hearted investigation of a rape complaint against an athlete.

USC and Miami are private schools that aren't subject to Freedom of Information laws like state schools like OSU are. Stonewalling is actually a feasible strategy for them. Was that happening in Miami, frustrating NCAA investigators and leading the NCAA folks to overreach?  I don't know, but isn't it possible? 

Also, historically Texas has been a frequent contender for NC titles. Was Mack Brown's running a relatively clean program the cause for their decline, and Mack's ouster? I don't know that either, but wouldn't you like to know if SEC boosters or bag men were keeping prospects from even visiting? I'd love to see the NY Times investigate that. You know ESPN would never do it. 

OSU, PSU, and USC were hit hard by sanctions; the programs at Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska have declined in prominence. ESPN promoting the SEC might be powerful, but it's not the only reason for the rise in schools from the Southeast. It's not just higher coach salaries, either.  IMO, there are multiple reasons for the widespread sentiment that the SEC is the best football conference, and that Miami and FSU are up there with them. 

Our honor defend, so we'll fight to the end !

If you can't win your conference, just quietly accept your non-playoff bowl game.

+1 HS