Never was a Bray fan, always thought he was a punk. Now I think Couch is a punk. Hope he enjoys sitting on his namesake watching his former teammates that he let down.
Today I spent about 15 minutes listening to some sports radio in my car. In that time, I heard the same two points — really dumb points, I might add — made time and again across the dial. In between growls and slaps to my forehead, a third issue came to mind, as well, and it’s equally aggravating.
So without further delay, please allow me this short rant about three things that drive me absolute batty. Ready? Good.
1. Media members and ex-jocks must stop suggesting that paying players is The Answer (!) to cheating.
Are these people really so simpleminded? Do they not realize that if a kid is willing to cheat for a few bucks now he’d also be willing to cheat for a few extra bucks on top of whatever a school might pay him?
Think of it this way — Let’s say colleges provide their players with a free meal. Then boosters and agents and runners come along with the promise of a free piece of cake. Ummm-ummm. Tasty.
Now, let’s say that the colleges — in an effort to cut out these unscrupulous cake-dealers — decide that they will provide cake for their players. Is it not painfully obvious that the boosters and agents and runners would immediately return with the promise of a little free icing to put on that cake?
If a man makes no money, he wants some. If a man makes some, he wants more. If a man makes more, he wants a lot more. And so on.
So please, please, please stop saying that paying athletes would fix the NCAA’s cheating problem. It wouldn’t.
And this is not coming from someone who’s against schools providing full-cost-of-tuition scholarships. I’m fine with that idea. But it wouldn’t deter cheating. You know why? ‘Cause a lot of people are just cheaters.
The providers want favors in return for their gifts. The recipients want what they’re not supposed to have. Presto chango… cheaters!
I hear these folks on national radio peddling this nonsense and I swear I think they should be yanked from the airwaves. Hell, they probably shouldn’t be allowed to handle sharp objects or operate heavy machinery. They’re daft.
2. There is positively no quick fix for cheating.
Apparently this is the question of the day. I’ve seen it asked on ESPN. I’ve heard it asked on radio. I, myself, was asked it on two radio shows today: “How can we clean things up?”
Short answer: We can’t. Know why? See Point #1: Some people are just cheaters!
In the case of the five SEC players who were allegedly paid by a runner for agents and financial advisers, some have suggested that the guys doing the paying should be thrown in jail. Sure. Sounds good. I’m all for it.
Now good luck getting all 50 states to pass legislation that sends agents or runners or other boosters to jail for paying athletes.
Not. Gonna. Happen.
Now, the NCAA could get tough with coaches if it wanted to — “If you get caught cheating, it’s the career death penalty for you.” — but college presidents aren’t going to back themselves into that type of corner. After all, their coach could be the next guy caught cheating. But even if they did decide to take a draconian approach with coaches, there would still be boosters and agents and runners to deal with and the NCAA can’t go tossing people in actual jail which brings us back to — deep breath — attempting to get all 50 states to pass strong legislation that outlaws providing extra benefits to athletes.
But for the sake of argument, let’s say all 50 states did pass legislation saying that any booster, agent, or runner paying a college athlete illegally will go to jail. And let’s say those folks couldn’t even hand a player a penny. Nothing. No cash whatsoever. How long before the boosters, and agents and runners start providing meals? Or shoes? Or rides to and from campus? Or rides across campus in a golf cart? Or a night with the pretty little hostess in the school-color skirt?
You see? Even if the NCAA got tough with the coaches and the states got tough with the folks giving money to players, there would still be people looking for loopholes and workarounds.
“How do we fix this?” We don’t. Not completely. It’s always gone on. And it goes on everywhere. We’re just more aware of it today because there are more means of transmitting information than ever before. So instead of having some dirt under the rug, everybody’s rugs are being lifted up and all the dirt beneath them exposed. The problem’s not getting worse. We’re just being exposed to the problem more often.
And there’s no way to completely fix the problem.
3. Fans must not place blind faith in any coach or player, even their own.
Fan. It’s short for fanatic (as you’ve no doubt heard a million times). Fanatics are so crazed for their own institution’s athletic teams that their coaches and players are lionized to the point of being viewed as infallible gods.
Heaven help the media member who tries to point out that Tommy All-American is kind of — when you think about it — a jerk. Fans back their guys. Blindly.
If Steve Spurrier wants a columnist off his Gamecocks’ beat — and that columnist happens to work for a spineless weasel — the columnist will be taken off that beat, replaced with a fan — not a journalist, a fan — and some in the fanbase will gushingly approve.
That’s really happened at South Carolina. But what it should tell USC fans is that Spurrier believes they’re stupid. At least too stupid to read a man’s column and decide for themselves whether it’s a hatchet job or not. And those few who cheer the reporter’s banishment — don’t you dare try to say I’m calling all Carolina fans stupid — are basically saying: “Yes, we are too stupid to read an opposing view. No opposing views! Ever! We can’t handle them.”
Coaches aren’t the only one who get the bubble-wrap treatment from some fans. Criticize the behavior of a certain star quarterback and a chunk of his team’s supporters will rise up in anger. And, no, I’m not talking about Johnny Manziel (though Texas A&M fans had better pay close attention to this rant).
I’m talking about former Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray. When we chided him during his freshman year for his over the top on-field celebrations and taunts (including a throat slash gesture against North Carolina), several Vol fans filled our email box in defense of their supa-dupa gunslinger. And when we dared to point out that tossing beer bottles at parked cars and hotdogging on jet skis might just maybe/kinda suggest deeper behavioral issues, we got smoked by some angry Vol fans in our comment boxes. (Check ‘em out. All you LSU fans who say I pick on LSU, you’ll see Tennessee fans claiming I never pick on LSU. And all you Texas A&M fans who say I only talk about Manziel’s taunts, take notice, too. Seems we’re a lot more consistent than some folks want to believe.)
Well now it turns out that ol’ Bray was indeed the bad news we made him out to be. People, if it walks like a punk and it talks like a punk… it’s a punk. Even if it wears your favorite team’s colors.
Ironically, those same fans who so loudly and angrily defended their quarterback are the ones who were ultimately punked by the QB himself.
The quarterback who once said, “I’m paid to win football games,” — remember that one? — is likely going to bring the NCAA posse back to Knoxville even though he’s long gone to Kansas City (as an undrafted free agent, we might point out). Bray’s in the clear while the folks who called media members meanies for picking on “little stuff” are left to wonder what’s next for their tortured program.
The lesson? Pull for your players and coaches. Root for them. But don’t put blind faith in them. And don’t start hollering about media conspiracies the next time someone with an objective view states that your coach or your player might not be the A-1 peach you make him out to be.
One, two, three. Just some raw feelings on a Thursday afternoon in the early part of scandal season. Did I say “scandal season?” I’m sorry, I meant football season.
Now I feel better.