Did you know that Alabama is playing Texas A&M this weekend? If you've been paying attention to the college football world this week you wouldn't have known it and that's a shame because that game could be one for the ages (or so we can all hope).
Instead what should've been a week of hype about it has been replaced with allegations of impropriety at Oklahoma State and about agents paying players across the SEC.
Of course, most of the allegations have been met with snickers and shrugs of the shoulders from fans and media alike. After all, didn't we all know this was going on to begin with?
That reaction, more so than the allegations themselves is what should be truly shocking. I mean…. who cares about players getting paid, people doing their homework for athletes, changing their grades to play football, dealing drugs or having ladies being pressured to have sex with boys on recruiting visits, right?
I mean, just take a look at what John Taylor of College Football Talk had to say about the allegations of drug use and dealing out of the Oklahoma State program:
…there are cursory mentions of cocaine use. By and large, though, we’re talking about weed, man. Weed. Not meth. Not crack. We’re talking about weed.
Really? That's the reaction? Never mind the fact that players were being alleged not only to have used drugs, but dealt them as well.
Listen to yourselves sports media and America at large…. Because your lack of concern or outrage says volumes about where we are as a college football culture and as a country.
If we are willing to just accept these things and shrug them off as a society, why do we even have laws or why do we even have academic institutions to begin with?
If you don't agree with the rules or laws set forth, screw it, break the law. Don't advocate for change of the law, just break it—that's the message your silence and ambivalence is giving off.
Your silence is saying it's OK for these things to go on, that it's OK to break the law and have no consequences for your actions.
Perhaps, it is time that there is a message sent to those that want to get involved in these activities. Perhaps it is time for jail sentences and harsh treatment to come for those that are breaking the law in these situations.
After all, aren't we really talking about things like prostitution, money laundering and drug dealing? But who cares about stuff like that, right?
Besides, it's all about plausible deniability… wink, wink!
Trust me, I've paid a harsh price for some mistakes in my past and can attest that the harsher the lesson the quicker the message is received.
Players and coaches do these things across the country because they know they can get away with it and if caught the penalties will be minimal at best—from the NCAA or the law at-large.
Flip the script on them, put coaches that offer money or scholarship benefits in exchange for "hostesses" in jail, because they are basically pimping these girls out. Put agents and the go-between's behind bars and give those who receive those benefits (usually off the record of course) the same type of treatment under the tax code and federal money laundering statutes.
See how fast behavior changes when the consequences are big. Let's remember, not only are the actions that have been alleged NCAA rule violations, they're mostly against the law too.
For me, these reports are less about the NCAA and their "archaic structure" and more about what message is being sent by the silence and satire being put out in the wake of said reports.
No doubt there are things the NCAA needs to work on and fix, that's a given (and appears to be likely addressed this coming January at the next big NCAA gathering, btw). However, does it absolve those that blatantly and flagrantly thumb their nose at the rules as they stand?
Maybe, this is a chance for those of us who love college football and care about the future of the game to also take a stand and say enough is enough—on both sides of the situation. One can demand a change of the rules and a change in the integrity of those involved in the game as well.
After all, if they are willing to be this flagrant about the current rule structure, what's to say they will act any differently under a different rule structure?
Until there are real teeth behind punishments to players, coaches, and administrators and until we as a college football culture and society at-large start demanding more than the bare minimum from players and coaches what incentive do they have to change their behavior?
In order to change the output you have to change the input and that's where the focus of this whole situation needs to be. Changing the expectations and holding those that don't live up to those expectations seriously accountable—whatever the rules or laws are.
Until then, perhaps some are right… This is all a big joke, but whatever it is, it isn't funny.