As my beloved New York Knicks prepare for yet another afternoon in ping-pong land, I find myself continuously researching all sorts of draft analysis and watching YouTube clips trying to figure out who might land in Gotham next season.
USC 'one-and-doner' O.J. Mayo is predicted to be a top three pick. He is a likely candidate for the Knickerbockers and we could certainly use an athlete with his skill-set to help turn our franchise around.
There, that's it, there should be no other talk about Mayo other than where he might play next season and whether or not he'd fit in with his new teammates and/or new coaching staff.
Instead I have to endure all of this incessant dribble about Mayo accepting payments from a sports promoter who works for the agent who now represents Mayo in his professional endeavors. My response to the allegations: so what?!
I am a former Division I scholarship athlete. In fact, I was an All-American at the University of Nebraska in track & field. Do you know who paid for my athletic scholarship, Head Coach Tom Osbourne, or more appropriately QB Steve Taylor, Linebacker Broderick Thomas or defensive end Neil Smith?
Since I left Nebraska, there have been several wonderful additions to the campus in the form of student activity centers, new dorms and too may things for me to list here. Guess who paid for it?
It sure as hell wasn't the math department.
There will more than enough pieces written that will argue the validity of paying Div-I athletes salaries (a concept that not only am I in favor of, but I think would actually help collegiate athletics), so I won't waste my time trying shout louder than everyone else on the page.
What is true, however is that as long as schools have television contracts, bowl payouts and shoe company endorsements, athletes will get paid under the table.
As long as coaches are biting their nails wondering whether or not that 20 win season is enough to allow them to keep their multi-million dollar salaries, then athletes will get paid under the table.
In fact, as long as universities continue to rely on the revenue earned by its athletic teams to pay for teacher's salaries and school improvements because state and federal funding continue to dry up at an alarming rate, athletes will get paid under the table.
When I first thought about how to approach this topic, the first thing I did was do some research on the percentage of collegiate athletes who make it to the professional level and the cost of a college degree.
Then it hit me, there really is no story here!
A few years back, in fact last year, we were still dealing with the fallout of the USC scandal involving Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush. So now, in May of 2008, how many New Orleans Saints fans have even the slightest concern for what money Bush may or may not have taken while in college?
You see, nobody cares.
The top three picks in the upcoming NBA draft will most likely be, Derrick Rose (Memphis), Michael Beasley (K-State) and Mayo (USC). Please tell me the names of the last three heart surgeons, public accountants or rocket scientists that has gone on to world acclaim from these institutions.
USC, like most other big time athletic schools is a professional athlete factory, that's what they do. Trust me the top three picks in the NFL draft, MLB draft and any other draft you can think of were paid long before they signed their name on any dotted line to play professionally.
Now everyone wants Mayo and Coach Tim Floyd's head on a platter.
If that's the case, every student who has had the fortune of having their tution paid for by revenue earned by the basketball and football teams should have their achievements revoked as well. Ditto for professors, janitors, alumni car dealerships and real estate agencies who parade their affiliation with the athletic department to potential clients like badges of honor.
They should all be forced to forfeit any and all achivements accomplished while the athletes in question were...err..on the payroll?
In fact wasn't Snoop Dogg spotted at some USC games and Will Ferrell as well. Let's recoup some of the royalties from their albums and movies respectively for associating with Bush and Mayo as well.
Let's go further than that, any student who decided to atttend USC knowing full well that the university's primary contribution to pop culture is the number of professional athletes and filmakers that it sends out into the world every year, should be put on academic probation for not having the good sense to attend Harvard or MIT.
All supermarkets who sold meat to tailgaters, all beer, hot dog and popcorn companies who had the audacity to provide food and drink to the tens of thousands of evil fans who dared attend these disgraceful athletic competitions should be imprisoned.
In fact, Congress needs to open an inquiry into how many television households were tuned in to any games that Bush and Mayo played in and if it's found out that you were watching these scourges of society you should be forced to suffer ten lashes at the hands of NCAA head honcho Miles Brandt.
O.J. Mayo took money, so will the next kid, and the next kid, and the next kid and so on and so on and so on... you get the picture. If you don't like it, then stop watching collegiate sports.
If it wasn't about the money, you wouldn't be able to watch collegiate sports because networks wouldn't fork over 75 million dollar contracts to teams like Notre Dame. American Express wouldn't be paying Duke's basketball coach millions of dollars to hawk a credit card.
The bottom line is that athletes will get money under the table, until...it no longer has to come from under the table.
Now, can we please start next season. I'm dying to see whether or not Pete Carroll and USC can make another run at the national championship.