Cavalcade of Whimsy - Cleaning Up The Game
Illinois RB Jason Ford
Illinois RB Jason Ford
Posted Nov 16, 2010

It's time the NCAA gets drastic and makes some big changes, because the current system isn't working. From policing college football to the problems of Illinois and Northwestern playing at Wrigley Field, in the latest Cavalcade of Whimsy.

Cavalcade of Whimsy

Nov. 16 - Week Eleven

Past Cavalcades
- 2008 Season | 2009 Season 
- Jan 19, Part 1 - Oh those wacky coaches 
- Jan 19, Part 2 - The sucky 2009 season 
- Sept. 7,  The Marcell Dareus Issue
- Sept. 14, The Boise State Issue
- Sept. 21,  MSU's Wild Weekend
- Sept. 28,  Is Boise State the new Florida State or Miami?
- Oct 5, Oh, that wacky Les Miles
- Oct. 12, Why the Brett Favre situation matters
- Oct. 19, Is Oklahoma REALLY No. 1?
- Oct. 26,  What if all the underclassmen come back?
- Nov. 2, The Notre Dame Tragedy
- Nov. 9, The Hosing of Boise State

E-mail Pete Fiutak

- Week 11 Part 2 - Why Stanford will be left out of the BCS 

Sorry if this column sucks, it's not my fault … the SEC said it's up to Auburn, and Auburn adamantly stated that the column is academically and athletically ineligible.

"Boys, the rules don't make much sense. But I believe in the rules. Some of us broke them. I broke them. I can't do this. I can't win like this." … I am so, SO tired of having to make apologies for the ugly aspects of my beloved sport. I feel like the baseball die-hards who had to sit back and groove on the 1990s and early 2000s while chicks were busy digging the long ball.

I know cheating has been a part of college football since it began, and I know there's an apples and oranges difference between baseball's steroid scandal and college players allegedly taking money from an agent or a booster, but it's time something finally happens to make these problems go away, and I don't mean the Cam Newton fiasco.

Either the NCAA finally has to wake up and realize that nothing can be done about players getting extra benefits, and accept that it actually is okay for a player to sell a jersey or take a meeting with an agent, or else it's time to blow the whole thing up and go after everyone in a War on Cheating, complete with a Roger iron fist. This cloak-and-dagger, half-assed selective approach to go after one program here and one player there, and not chop away at the whole iceberg, isn't doing the sport any good.

NCAA, do you want to clean up college football? Really? Then quit screwing around and do it. But first, you have to know what you can and can't do, and you're going to have to change with the times in order to accomplish the greater overall goal of making the sport better. NCAA, you're going to have to make some concessions to make it easier to police the parts that need more attention. It's time to get drastic.

1) Let players turn pro whenever they want to. NFL, expand your rosters, have a more developed practice squad, and let the people who want to play football for a living play football for a living. College football keeps on losing star pro prospects early and the sport is more popular than ever, and unlike college basketball, it'll be just fine if some top prospects never set foot on a college campus. And players, smarten up. If you're a legitimate first round prospect, quit playing college football and go train to become a pro. Don't risk the investment to injury, and go work with the specialists who'll prepare you better for the next level. NCAA, don't force people to be college students when they don't want to be and then get mad when they break the rules they don't really want to follow. If they want to go, let them.

2) Eliminate athletic scholarships but allow the players to have agents, take money from boosters, and have jobs doing whatever they want to. Let's make this about college football. The kid who dreams of becoming a punter at State U. will be a real, live student and not some paid part-time employee (which is what a scholarship makes the player), while the Heisman stud will be allowed to do endorsements and have his scholarship sponsored by an agent or a marketing company. If T. Boone Pickens wants to buy himself a team at Oklahoma State, fine. It's time to take the hypocrisy out of the game once and for all, and the NCAA won't have to waste time looking into all the extra benefit claims.

3) Allow players to major in football. If you can major in dance, or art, or film criticism (ding! ding! ding!), you can major in an athletic endeavor. And no, just because someone majors in football that doesn't mean that's all the student will do. You do take other courses outside of your major. If a guy wants to come to a school to play and learn about football, okay.

4) In lieu of doing 1-through-3, which you won't do, NCAA, enforce your rules and be zero-tolerance about it. Any involvement with an agent, marketing company, or anyone else outside of the rules and it's over. Booted. Scholarship revoked and college career ended on the spot. Top players might be greedy, but they're not dumb, and if they know there's any chance of the fun being over in a one-strike-and-out policy, they'll wait. They'll understand in a hurry, and so will the coaches.

Coaches, you want help? Too bad. It's logistically impossible to police every player at every school all the time, and unfortunately, you'll have to do this yourselves. If the agent and booster issues are really going to change, coaches have start from the source, the players, and tighten up the recruiting to make sure the prospects being brought in have the fear of God thrown into them. Coaches, if you don't want to lose your players, then get the type of people who won't screw up.

NCAA, enough is enough. College fans are sick of it, the programs are sick of it, and the sport needs to change because right now, this isn't working.

"Pop quiz, hotshot. Terrorist holding a police hostage. Got enough dynamite strapped to his chest to blow a building in half. Now, what do you do?" … Alright, Auburn fans. Would you take a Reggie Bush situation? If you were told right now that Cam Newton would win the Heisman and Auburn would blow away Alabama, South Carolina, and Oregon on the way to a 14-0 season and an undisputed national title, but it was all going to be taken out of the record books by some dopey pencil-pusher four years from now, would you take the deal?

Why wouldn't you?

Just in the last few months, the Colorado 1990 national championship was tarnished by Josh Luchs, and no one cared. The ESPN 30 for 30 documentary on Miami provided enough fodder to completely and totally erase everything that happened to the Hurricane program from 1983 to just before Butch Davis took over, and no one cared. The latest 30 for 30 film on Marcus Dupree provided even further evidence that the 1985 Oklahoma national title should have an * to it, and no one cares. Yeah, USC got hit with sanctions and Bush doesn't have a trophy. So? USC is still considered the 2004 national champion.

We don't know all the facts in the Newton situation, so Auburn fans, sit back, enjoy, and realize that if it all goes horribly wrong, after the initial firestorm the world will fire back with a big, fat bowl of indifference a few years from now.

"Until next time, America." … Can't we just put Newton on Maury and hook him up to a lie detector?

Tester: "Is your name Cameron Newton?"
Newton: "Yes."
Tester: "Do you play quarterback for Auburn University?"
Newton: "Yes."
Tester: "Is today Tuesday?"
Newton: "Yes."
Tester: "Did you tell Sharon that you were out of town so you could spend the weekend in a hotel with Leon?"
Newton: "WHAT THE … ?!"
Tester: "Oh … sorry. My bad. That was from yesterday's show. Do you wear jersey number 10?"
Newton: "No."
Tester: "Did your father solicit money from Mississippi State University in order for you to sign … "

We'll be right back after this message from Goldline …

"But look at it, Johnny. Look at it! This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, man. Just let me go out there, let me get one wave before you take me. One wave. Where am l gonna go, man? Cliffs on both side. I'm not gonna paddle to New Zealand! My whole life has been about this moment, Johnny. Come on, compadre." … Auburn, if you have to give any real thought about whether or not to let Newton play, deep down, don't you sort of have your answer?

"By the time they figure out what went wrong, we'll be sitting on a beach, earning twenty percent." … Tim Brown, "You can't hide $180-to-$200,000 in an account somewhere." Yeah, you can. And then, a few months from now, the second a player turns pro, voilà, the money starts to trickle out and gets mixed in with dough he'll receive from his agent and his first contract.

"Bless his heart. He's got to be the sickest man in America." … Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson were brilliant, award-worthy brilliant, in the way they handled the Newton situation during their call of the Georgia game. They didn't judge, they didn't preach, and they didn't get caught up in the emotion of the surroundings to kiss up to Newton for anything beyond his brilliance on the field. They handled an explosively delicate situation to perfection. If they glossed over the controversy, they would've been seen as suck-up shills. If they went too far the other way, they might have influenced public opinion the against Newton. They kept acknowledging the controversy throughout the game, but it was always in the proper context.

From the BCS Media Guide: "The BCS provides equal opportunity for all FBS teams and conferences." … While I'm sending out balloon bouquets, to be fair, considering I've railed on ESPN and its potential handling of the BCS, Chris Fowler deserves credit for not being afraid to whiz all over the system. He's bringing it when it comes to his criticism of the BCS, and it's the best thing possible for ESPN and for its coverage. It's not like anyone won't watch because Fowler, or anyone else, points out what everyone else believes, and considering ESPN is going to be ESPNSEC, the criticism gives the coverage more teeth and believability.

Yeah, it really did say the BCS provides an equal opportunity to all teams … Get ready for the mother or all theoretical arguments. Here's what's going to happen. Auburn is going to lose to Alabama and will be moved down to No. 4 by the humans behind No. 1 Oregon, No. 2 Boise State (who'll move up in two weeks), and No. 3 TCU. Then, the Tigers will blast South Carolina in the SEC Championship by double-digits and the pollsters will have a decision. 12-1 SEC Champion Auburn or No. 2 unbeaten Boise State vs. Oregon for the national title. It'll be an all-timer of fight.

"… the future is something to look forward to, not to fear . . . He is a creative man of many interests . . . film, poetry, karate, music and dance . . . he is a man of passion and mystery …" … On his name alone, Cal quarterback Brock Mansion, once he joins forces with Chest Rockwell, has a very interesting career waiting for him if the football thing doesn't work out. His speech after the Oregon loss was Tebow-like inspiring. "We can always do better -- and I'll keep trying if you keep trying so let's keep rocking and rolling!"

"The mother(bleep)ers don't even work. That's why they're out at the (bleep)in' game. They oughta go out and get a (bleep)in' job and find out what it's like to go out and earn a (bleep)in' living. Eighty-five percent of the (bleep)in' world is working. The other fifteen percent come out here. A (bleep)in' playground for the (bleep)suckers." … Notre Dame playing Army in Yankee Stadium makes a little bit of sense. It's a nod to the history of the rivalry when the two teams played epic showdowns in the old Yankee Stadium, and since it's not like college football is big in New York City, the game will generate a needed buzz. However, the Northwestern vs. Illinois game in Wrigley Field is a true gimmick, and it might be a dangerous one.

Let's cut through all the mythical crap; Wrigley Field is a flat-out dump. It makes Ryan Field look like Jerry World.

While the building sucks, if you have great seats and/or if you're young and you live in the neighborhood, it is a special environment. It's a magical place because it represents getting away from work at 1:30 on a sunny Thursday afternoon in mid-July, but as a historical relic it's a drab, junky symbol of lots and lots of losing. The place has four things going for it: 1) scantily-clad hot women drinking beer in the sun-drenched bleachers, 2) close proximity to Metro, the best place in the world to hear a band, 3) the surrounding neighborhood and the bar scene, 4) and scantily-clad hot women drinking beer in the sun-drenched bleachers. Everything else is trumped up sentimental crap packaged as nostalgia to keep people from noticing the often miserable product on the field. There's nowhere to park, about a third of the seats are awful, and there's no padding on the walls.

Oh yeah, padding on the walls … that's sort of an issue for a football game. Wait until you see where these kids put one of the end zones. There's a brick wall waiting to greet any player preparing to venture three feet past the end line, and it will alter the play calls in that area or else someone is going to get flattened.

Fine, it's Northwestern vs. Illinois and playing in Wrigley is getting people to care about a normally non-descript matchup. This is cute to do once. Once.

"People should know when they're conquered." … Really, WAC? Denver, UT-San Antonio, and Texas State? That's your grand idea?

College football, it's time to do some restructuring. Create a new level for programs that have no earthly business being among the big boys and make that the new D-IAA.

All 13 teams in the MAC, all nine teams in the Sun Belt, a few Conference USA teams, and the teams still remaining in the WAC after Nevada, Fresno State, and Boise State leave should form a lower-level of teams that have to earn their way up, sort of like the English Premier League does when it relegates bad teams to a lower division. Programs like ULM, who got paid to get trashed 51-0 by LSU last weekend, need money, and they should be the ones who get the lambs for the slaughter dates and not the FCS. If one or two teams prove worthy, then the next year they can rise up and play at the higher level.

And I'm still pushing for GameDay to come broadcast from my breakfast nook, but, um, uhhhhhh, this week it actually is. The first Old Style is on me. … It's Year Two, Week Eleven of my open lobbying of the ESPN College Football Final show guys to give me a helmet sticker and the signed T-shirt, suitable for framing. Why do I deserve one this week? With the wife and kids returning from visiting family for three days last weekend, and less than three minutes away from pulling into the garage, I pulled a Risky Business (though not in the fun way) setting the modern day land-speed record for cleaning up leftovers and wrappers from McDonald's, Clucker's, Brown's Chicken & Pasta, El Taco Norte, Jimmy John's, Dunkin' Donuts, Pot Belly's, and The Mean Weiner (again, not in the fun way) while eliminating the smell from the "food," the aftermath it wrought, and my body not touching a bar of soap for 83 straight hours. This was the equivalent of Kansas scoring 35 fourth quarter points two weeks ago to beat Colorado.

- Week 11 Part 2 - Why Stanford will be left out of the BCS