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Cavalcade Kickoff - Our Fun Offseason
Posted Aug 31, 2011

To kickoff the 2011 Cavalcade of Whimsy, the sport of college football has a discussion about all the craziness of the offseason.

Cavalcade of Whimsy

The 2011 Kickoff

Past Cavalcades
- 2008 Season | 2009 Season | 2010 Season 
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Sorry if this column sucks, it’s not my fault … the season is just hours away from starting and after this offseason, I feel like I just gave birth ... to an accountant.

153 days since Stanley McClover's claims against Auburn, Ohio State, Michigan State, and LSU without any repercussions.

College Football: “Hi, it’s me, College Football.”

NCAA: “How’s it going?”

College Football: “To be totally honest, not so well. I’m really confused and a bit down after the last year. You're supposed to be protecting me and even with the season just about to start, I'm getting blasted from all sides.”

NCAA: “Sorry to hear that, but as far TV numbers, revenue, and popularity, you’re actually healthier than ever. We’ll get this all sorted out. We’re trying.”

College Football: “But that’s just it. What are you ‘trying’ to do? You’ve been all over the place with your rulings that carry no real teeth – really, vacated wins? - no one is really getting punished other than USC, and you’re sticking your head in the sand when it comes to the obvious needs and problems.”

NCAA: “I couldn’t disagree with you more, but slow it down, Sport. What are you so confused about?”

College Football: “Where do I begin? I know this was so last year, but the Cam Newton situation was the unofficial kickoff of all the big issues. With a little time and perspective, and knowing how close he and his dad are, the situation and your ruling seems more bizarre than ever. A player’s dad can solicit money from a school and the player is still eligible? Really?”

NCAA: “That’s a bit simplistic, but as long as the player didn’t know what the dad was doing, and as long as there’s no record of money being exchanged, yes.”

College Football: “You honestly believe that?”

NCAA: “Not really. Anything else? We're busy.”

College Football: “You can’t subpoena players and coaches when scandals come up and put them under oath?”

NCAA: “No, we’re not a court of law. We’re governing you with our rules and regulations.”

College Football: “So it really doesn’t matter if someone lies to you.”

NCAA: “Well, no, if someone is tampering with our investigation or if they're lying to us and we find out, we’ll punish accordingly.”

College Football: “Is that why Dez Bryant’s career was done so early and is that really why Georgia Tech and Russell Shepard got in trouble?”

NCAA: “Again, that’s a bit simplistic, but for the most part, yeah.”

College Football: “Not to keep harping on this, but a player’s dad asks for $180,000 and nothing happens. Oregon paid Willie Lyles for an outdated "recruiting scouting report", and you don't really care. Stanley McClover goes on national TV and tells Real Sports - not exactly the National Enquirer of sports journalism - that boosters at several schools provided him with cash and sex, and there's nothing but cricket noises coming from your offices. Players get gifts from bowl games, gift cards, and thousands of dollars worth of stuff, and the conference commissioners admit that the players deserve a bigger stipend, and that's all okay. A player takes a few hundred dollars from an agent, and Georgia Tech is stripped of its 2009 ACC Championship. Terrelle Pryor gives away his own property for a tattoo, and Ohio State goes through a summer from hell. This all doesn’t appear to be a bit strange to you in any way?”

NCAA: (long pause) … “Well … um … Georgia Tech was … uhhhhhh. We have to abide by our rules and regulations and we do like to prove a point.”

College Football: “And that’s the problem; you’re not doing that. You don’t see why I have a perception problem when you allow a Heisman-caliber quarterback to keep his eligibility so he can take his team to the national title, and you allow Ohio State players to play in a bowl game – even though you already know the offenses – and in the next turn you continue to try to make an example out of USC?”

NCAA: “USC needed to be punished.”

College Football: “Yeah, fine, but you’re not applying the same standards to anyone else. The Reggie Bush situation was the high-profile side of the case, but what he did wasn’t out of the norm.”

NCAA: “Are you done?”

College Football: “There’s no consistency, and you’re missing the forest for the trees. You basically blew USC out of the water because you didn’t like the way Pete Carroll ran a loose ship, and yet Ohio State is going to get out of this with nothing more than a fired head coach and a few vacated wins. And then, on the flip side, Tressel gets canned …”

NCAA: “He resigned.”

College Football: “Tressel gets canned in Ohio State’s attempt to appease you, even though he didn’t do anything against the law, and yet you're not going to do anything about anyone at Notre Dame after IOSHA went nuclear over the Declan Sullivan tragedy and originally ruled that that the school ‘knowingly put its employees in an unsafe situation,’ before it was reduced down to a ‘serious violation’ in the settlement. Also, for a recent example, Les Miles isn’t in any hot water with you for the Jordan Jefferson situation – when his players allegedly committed felonious acts?”

NCAA: “I’m not following you.”

College Football: “Alright, let’s try it this way. You hammered USC partly because Bush went rogue and Carroll should’ve known what was happening and should’ve done something about it, and Ohio State got in trouble because Tressel did know about the tattoo situation and did nothing about it.”

NCAA: “Okay …”

College Football: “But Bush, Terrelle Pryor, and the others in similar situations didn’t actually break any laws – save for the pot allegations surrounding the Tattoo Five – and yet you went ballistic. If you’re going to punish programs and coaches when they supposedly can’t control their players for breaking your phony baloney rules, then why don’t you apply the exact same standards to programs and coaches whose players break real laws?”

NCAA: “That’s what the legal system is for.”

College Football: “Yeah, but you're the supposed to be my morality police, and I’m far worse as a sport when my players are committing criminal acts than anything they might do with a superfan or an agent. Since my beginning I’ve been “corrupt,” to use a poor choice of words, when it came to boosters, paying players, and acquiring talent, and I turned out just fine. I know you have people brainwashed to think that players taking cash and cars and dealing with agents is a negative, but it really isn’t. To be honest, at the highest of my levels, I really and truly don’t care about $100 handshakes or if players get forwarded money from a marketing company. Assault, drunk driving, theft; those are real problems that reflect negatively on me, and you’re so screwed up in your corporate thinking that you can’t seem to realize what's truly important.”

NCAA: “You’re rambling. Since you apparently have all the answers, what is 'truly important'?”

College Football: “Chronic traumatic encephalopathy. If you really and truly cared about me, and if you really and truly cared about the young people who make me so wonderful, you’d stop wasting your time and efforts on fruitless attempts to enforce all your archaic rules and you’d use your resources to make sure that the players’ brains are functional when they’re done playing me. You need to protect the players from the coaches and you need to have a strict, ultra-conservative set of guidelines to ensure that lives aren’t being ruined. I’m great, but I’m only a game and I don’t want the guilt or burden of knowing I’m the cause of so much pain, suffering, and sadness.”

NCAA: “Yeah, it’s in the works.”

College Football: “And while you’re at it, you have to protect the players from the strength and conditioning coaches. I survived through the 1970s and 1980s when steroids were common, but now it’s more sinister, more dangerous, and more of a must for some kids to bulk up by any means necessary if they want to get a scholarship and keep it. You need to be at the forefront of testing and enforcement because, at the moment, what you’re doing is laughed at and ignored. There are way too many marginally talented recruits who magically become superstars over a summer.”

NCAA: “You don’t think a 19-year-old body can change in a huge hurry with professional-level training?”

College Football: “Of course, but 99% of the time, a skinny walk-on with mediocre skills doesn’t become an NFL draft pick by lifting more weights. Trust me; that’s one thing I’ve learned about myself over the years.”

NCAA: “This one is tough. We’re going to need the NFL to help guide us.”

College Football: “Understood. Speaking of the NFL, why can’t you help me allow players who want to leave early to be able to go? Look, I’m fine. I’m always going to be fine. I’m not college basketball, who desperately needs a star system and a gimmicky tournament to be interesting. I survive no matter whose playing. Fans actually don’t seem to care too much when I lose top players to the next level since there are always more on the way.”

NCAA: “Yeah, it's not really fair, but the two-years-out-of-high-school criteria is an NFL rule …

College Football: “That you could help me change.”

NCAA: “… that’s not going to be changed. They don’t want to deal with scouting prospects, and they don’t want 18-year-old recruits whose bodies haven’t matured …”

College Football: “Screw the NFL. The league does NOTHING for me. I don’t need the NFL, but it can’t survive without me and the farm system I provide. I’m calling the shots. I’m saving the owners billions by being their minor league system. Remember, your real overall goal here is to promote the student-athlete, and if some athletes don’t really want to be students, I don’t want them around.”

NCAA: “Even a little bit of college helps …”

College Football: “Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, WRONG. No it doesn’t. I’m not for everyone. Do you have ANY clue what it takes to be a great college football player? The players at the biggest schools can’t be real students. They just can’t. And when I have players who don’t want to be real students and are in college only because they have to, to generalize, they tend to be the ones who cause the most problems.”

NCAA: “True, but don’t you think we’re getting better at this? We’re going to raise the academic standards and the APR has become almost as important for some schools as a Top 25 ranking in the Coaches’ Poll.”

College Football: “Not every conference can be the Ivy League.”

NCAA: “Anything else? We’re sort of busy around here.”

College Football: “Yeah. Pro football might be our national passion, and baseball might be our national past time, but I’m not being overly egotistical to suggest that unlike any sport, I am purely and utterly America. I’ve survived through two world wars, Teddy Roosevelt, and the BCS. I was at the forefront of breaking down racial barriers. I’ve brought publicity and fame to schools that never would’ve been seen or heard of otherwise, and I’ve managed to help heal the nation during times of grief and sadness. I am just as much downtown Los Angeles as I am Starkville. I’m South Beach and I’m Seattle. I’m Lubbock and I’m Minneapolis. I’m Auburn fans helping rebuild Tuscaloosa, and I’m Nebraska fans cheering a good performance by the other team. I’m the procession before the Army-Navy game, and I’m over 100,000 people packing the house to watch Ohio State vs. Michigan. I’m Knute Rockne, Joe Paterno, Red Grange, Flutie’s Hail Mary, the Stanford band, 'Harvard Beats Yale 29-29,' Steve Walsh-to-Michael Irvin against Florida State, and I’m the Nebraska-Oklahoma Game of the Century. I’m Saturday. I’m Fall. I’m the Heisman. I’m marching bands. I’m cheerleaders. Yes, I’m Randall Hill shooting the guns out of the tunnel at the 1991 Cotton Bowl; I’m 1980s SMU; I’m the Jake Locker celebration call against BYU; I’m Josh Luchs; I’m recruiting services; I’m EA Sports; I’m Nevin Shapiro; and I’m the epitome of hypocrisy at almost every level; yet I’ve survived scandal after scandal only to come out stronger than before. NCAA, you’re losing sight of what makes me truly great and why I matter so much to so many. Don’t get caught up in the machine. I was here before you, and once the conference heads get their superpower plan together, I’ll be here after you. For now, figure this out, but also, let me breathe a bit for the next three months and let's enjoy the ride.”

NCAA: “Sorry … could you repeat that? I had Shalala on the other line.”