The Pageantry Of Collegiate Sports...And The Greed That Pulls The Strings

Bleacher Report Analyst IDecember 8, 2008

I could sit here and tell you that every college athlete is favored over a regular student unless he or she turns into a media nightmare.

I could sit here and tell you that even in the Ivy League, where there are no scholarships; there are coaches’ lists where players can get in with less academic qualifications.

I could sit here and tell you that the term “Student Athlete,” is as much as a façade as a healthy sandwich from McDonald's.

I could sit here and tell you that only about 30 percent of coaches care if their players are on the right academic track.

I could sit here and tell you that there is animosity between non-athletic college students and student athletes because the regular students think the players get an unfair advantage.

I could sit here and tell you that collegiate athletes are frequently taken advantage of; especially since they are a part of a billion-dollar industry of which they don’t see one cent. And therefore I can sit here and tell you they do it for the love of the game.

I could sit here and tell you two-a-days, suicide sprints and long distance games have frequently been responsible for athletes falling behind in class; and that the average GPA of a student athlete in any D-1 program is lower than that of a non-student athlete.

I could sit here and tell you a trillion more things about college sports, (and if you want a copy of my thesis, I would be happy to pass it along; except reading theses tends to make you want to gouge your eyes out, so ask at your own risk).

But instead, I will tell you why I just mentioned all of that, and in addition why the BCS is as flawed as it is: greed.

The athletic director of my former university told me that good college sports are the front porch to a good university. And in theory, why shouldn’t they be? A good sports team brings attention to the campus. Attention usually brings money, and money is good. Even though universities are non profit institutions, they all make money, every last one of them…

...Which leads me to the BCS.

The BCS is about money. What teams travel well and what teams will be a big ratings draw. And due to the history and pageantry of the big time Bowl games, Ohio State is in. Now, before every Ohio State fan jumps in here and says “stop being a hater bro” or something more or less articulate (depending on the person), let me explain.

The BCS, until this year was a “what have you done for me lately” system. Even when they got it wrong, they made it up in the future. USC is left out of the Sugar Bowl in 04, and the BCS made sure they were that they would be there to compete for a National Championship the next Year.

The USC favoritism of course then left undefeated Auburn out of the championship picture. And once Auburn was out of the picture, the BCS made damn sure that the next great SEC team would be in.

And in all of these instances, the decisions were not just made by the BCS, they were made by the performances of the snubbed teams in their respective bowls.

But you must, as a fan of the good parts of college sports, ask yourself how Boise State was left out of this. Boise State was far and away given the biggest test of any mid major ever to crack the BCS.

In fact, some argued that they were matched up against the Sooners on purpose so that the mid-major would get totally stomped out and we’d never hear about it again. But as you may remember, Boise State beat Oklahoma in what will go down as one of the best football games of all time.

Interestingly enough, the BCS did give the nod to Boise State’s WAC counterpart, team Hawaii. However, there is a difference between those two teams. Boise State plays defense. And more importantly: getting absolutely wrecked on a big stage has never seemed to affect some other schools (wink wink nudge nudge: OHIO STATE).

So riddle me this: If the BCS has over and over again rewarded teams with successful previous bowl performances, how in god’s name was Ohio State picked in front of Boise State?

And the answer, as sad as it is, is pretty simple. Ohio State will generate more money. They have a bigger fan base, a better history and a more lucrative name. The real shame is that college football doesn’t have a system that would match up Boise State and the Buckeyes.