This week was the week of scandal in college football as Oklahoma State, Alabama, Mississippi State and Tennessee were all implicated in two separate sports journalism pieces published to audiences across the globe.
The headlines for each story catches the eye and generates clicks (unfortunately the most important thing in journalism today).
The stories detail recruiting corruption, payment plans and even scenarios where attractive young female escorts were “assigned to” visiting high school players for an entire weekend in an attempt to lure the player into the program.
All of the above-stated allegations are 100 percent dead-red NCAA violations – infractions that, in theory, could place any college sporting program in danger of significant trouble.
But much like other investigations of yesteryear, the week’s two stories will end the same way that they always do: No significant action will be taken, no paper trail will be found and the alleged guilty parties will run away smiling with a big, fat victory over the college sporting body’s investigative team.
The NCAA has no power. It is a lame duck organization known for hypocritical judgment, selective justice and an inability to govern the hundreds of universities that it oversees.
Start with hypocritical judgment – a topic that truly could be its own Casey’s Corner column in and of itself.
There are strict guidelines that collegiate student athletes must follow when they attend a university in order to maintain their eligibility and “amateur” status.
The NCAA doesn’t allow student athletes to profit from their status as an athlete. Players cannot receive cash, free meals, preferential jobs, nor any other benefits from anyone because of their position as an athlete.
Not accepting giant wads of cash is one thing – we get that and understand that’s a credible rule.
But how about Portland University, which self-reported a violation last year because one of its golfers washed her car on campus using “private university” water.
The violation occurred because the wash took place in the athletic building’s parking lot with a hose that “would not be available to regular students.”
The golfer had to pay a $20 fine to cover the value of the water and use of the hose. Failure to do so would have resulted in the young lady losing her eligibility forever.
While student athletes juggle a litany of rules and regulations, the NCAA is busy exploiting its players’ likeness by selling memorabilia with the young man/women’s number feature on official uniformed gear.
When Tim Tebow was at Florida, thousands of Gators fans owned a No. 15 jersey to rep their quarterback.
When I was at LSU, the No. 11 was popular because of Ryan Perrilloux.
The players receive $0.00 for these transactions, and if they try to make T-shirts or other gear on their own, their eligibility is taken away – never to be seen again.
With such a complicated and hypocritical structure, rules are inevitably going to be broken. When they are, the NCAA doesn’t exactly have a sparkling, consistent record of giving programs equal justice.
When major money-making programs are brought under the NCAA microscope, very rarely is any significant hammer dropped.
USC is the lone exception in recent years with Ohio State a close second. Countless other programs have been caught red-handed in similar situations, but skated.
Former Oklahoma State receiver Dez Bryant was suspended for near an entire season for lying to NCAA investigators during an interview. It was later discovered that Bryant’s only wrongdoing was having lunch with NFL great Deion Sanders – a meal that wasn’t a violation of any NCAA rule.
While Bryant sat on the sidelines and watched his career go down the tube, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel sat out just a half earlier this season against Rice as part of a plea bargain for his alleged role in multiple paid autograph signings.
In countless incidents throughout the past, eligibility has been an all-or-nothing proposition. An athlete was either eligible and free to play or ineligible and gone forever.
But Manziel was given a slap on the wrist and was just labeled as “sort-of” guilty – a plea deal that is a slap in the face to Bryant and every other player in the history of college sports who has lost his eligibility for a similar violation.
It’s all hypocrisy and a sham.
Manziel is the largest financial draw in college football today – he moves the meter as a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback in the Southeastern Conference.
Bryant didn’t have the same impact as an easily replaceable receiver in the offensive happy Big 12.
For that reason, Johnny Football stays, while Dez Bryant goes – true NCAA selective justice.
It’s the same reason why Cam Newton was able to play, despite his family being caught in a pay-for-play scandal.
It was alleged during that scandal that Newton was offered six figures to play for Mississippi State – an offer that was declined.
Does anyone truly believe that a young man turned down six figures to play for free somewhere else? Auburn was as dirty as a litter box, and everyone knows it.
The NCAA does, too.
They just didn’t have the muscles, nor the teeth to prove it.
So for all of the reasons above, it is no shock that the public is taking a cynical approach to the allegations that have struck the world of college football this week.
Four schools are being watched closely – so what?
No paper trail will exist (no con artist is that stupid) and the teams in question will roll on into the future like nothing ever happened.
The system is corrupt, broken and in dire need of repair.
That’s the real story that needs to be investigated by our national media.