I love college football. There, I said it. I love the bands, I love the atmosphere, I love the tradition, and most of all, I love the drama. I can recall the thrilling finishes like they happened yesterday: Boise State stunning Oklahoma, Michigan beating Michigan State in 3OT, Ohio State’s controversial win over Miami for the National Title, and my favorite, Vince Young’s stellar performance to lift the Longhorns over the Trojans.
Fall is my favorite time of the year, and it’s not because I enjoy raking leaves.
It’s these attributes that make college football’s bowl subdivision the most successful college sport in history, with a passionate fanbase that rivals the NFL. Even so, there aren’t very many happy faces around college football these days.
Over the last several months, the NCAA has watched as the Bowl Championship Series’ already questionable reputation was tarnished further by corrupt Fiesta Bowl CEO John Junker’s political contributions. Those contributions violated the non-profit status of the Fiesta Bowl, (which I’m pretty sure is the first non-profit in history with a CEO salary of $600,000) and embarrassed the system as a whole.
And on the heels of that scandal, two others have grabbed headlines. Just last week, it was reported that college football behemoth USC would be forced to relinquish their 2004 National Championship due to the Reggie Bush situation.
Days later, news surfaced that Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel and starting quarterback Terrell Pryor would be leaving the school amid allegations of illegal benefits and cover-ups. In my mind, the NCAA has set a precedent, and OSU will lose their National Championship as well.
This has suddenly become a very important time for the NCAA; I liken it to the steroid era in baseball. Recruiting violations are exploding across the country, and it seems that the number of players receiving improper benefits has skyrocketed.
In addition, it is becoming more common to have undefeated programs left out of the National Championship race. Schools like Stanford, TCU, Boise State and Nevada have asserted themselves recently, but the current system is squeezing these fringe contenders out of the championship picture.