“Nothing here has changed.”

For those of you in the peanut gallery here who occasionally chide me about my negativity by asking why if things are so bad, I am still an engaged follower of college football, I have what may be a surprising response.

You have a point.

Oh, not about my complaints directed at Butts-Mehre.  In a world where the customer survey is SOP, I hardly think it’s questionable to offer constructive criticism of an organization’s business model that doesn’t seem as devoted to enhancing the fans’ experience as it could be.  (But, sadly, I digress.)

The cynical and hypocritical garbage that the NCAA routinely pumps out about its sacred mission, though?  Yeah, that’s a problem.  And it’s not getting any more palatable.

If you watched the first of those Steven Godfrey clips I posted yesterday about the Ole Miss scandal and found them of interest, then you’ll really be taken by the long-form edition of his findings posted here.  It’s clichéd to read a relentlessly negative, sad story and reach the conclusion that nobody comes out looking good, but in this case, after reading this…

And if you had a rooting interest for or against any person or program or institution in this story you can’t be satisfied.

If you believe the absolute worst about the NCAA — that they’re profiteers of a free labor system who seek to punish anyone who undermines that process all while having the gall to pass off their scam as an educational enterprise — you can’t be satisfied. The NCAA fake cops did whatever they could to shoehorn, manipulate, and omit information to fit a case that was rubber stamped by the NCAA’s fake court.

If you believe the absolute worst about Hugh Freeze — that he systematically orchestrated prohibited recruiting practices to further his career while posing a humble man of God — you can’t be satisfied.

Sure, Freeze was fired by the Rebels, but not for his role in the NCAA investigation. His two-game suspension by the NCAA only applies if he’s the head coach of a program in 2018. And if you’re naive enough to think the combination of the NCAA and phone sex scandals are enough to blacklist him from ever returning the same level in this industry, consider an April 16 report by AL.com that claims SEC commissioner Greg Sankey had to intervene to keep multiple conference schools from hiring Freeze for various potential assistant jobs — including national champion Alabama.

(I can confirm as a result of phone calls with multiple sources that Freeze was in contact with five different SEC programs for potential jobs, with at least three of those schools talking with him about potential on-field assistant coaching positions, not administrative or analyst jobs.)

Freeze will undoubtedly coach again. He will likely do so in the Southeastern Conference, and will likely become a head coach at a top program again in his career.

If you believe the absolute worst about Dan Mullen — that he encouraged one of his players to act against their own self-interests and rat out a rival school that had usurped his career momentum at Mississippi State — you can’t be satisfied. Mullen saw no reprimand.

Far from it: Less than a week after losing the Egg Bowl, Mullen signed a six year, $36 million deal with the Florida Gators, that dream job he reportedly always wanted. He now helms one of the strongest, most successful programs in modern college football. After years of missing out on big jobs, he hired Jimmy Sexton — who also represents Tunsil and Freeze — as his agent.

If you believe the absolute worst about Mississippi State — that the program and its boosters, poxed with little brother syndrome, schemed to help Lindsey Miller with legal counsel, funnel money to Leo Lewis, and encourage him and other MSU players to talk to the NCAA about Ole Miss and Rebel Rags — you can’t be satisfied.

Mississippi State’s boosters finish this story with an MVP stat line. They’re the real winners. You can’t help but applaud them. If you believe this version, Bulldogs boosters should conduct paid clinics for other SEC bagmen. Topic 1: How to launder recruiting inducements barred by the NCAA through family connections. Topic 2: How to ratfuck your sloppy rivals for fun and profit.

And if you believe the absolute worst about Ole Miss — that a program and booster culture so desperate to win encouraged and orchestrated wanton prohibited recruiting schemes and then lied to cover them up — you can’t be satisfied by the result. Despite the shadow of the investigation and losing Freeze days before starting practice, the Rebels finished 2017 with a respectable 6-6 record.

As of this writing, the Rebels’ 2018 bowl ban still stands. Also as of this writing, new head coach Matt Luke, a former Ole Miss player, is overseeing a 2019 recruiting class that currently ranks 13th in the nation, according to 247 Sports.

The 2019 college football recruiting class from the state of Mississippi is considered one of the deepest and most talented classes in history. So what do you think is about to happen? What would stop all of this from happening again?

Mississippi is still football rich and money poor. Boosters still want to win and high school recruits still need their cash.

… it’s inescapable.  So is this truth:

This will keep happening. All of it. Even the NCAA said the culture stretches over decades.

This, face it, is the sewage that flows freely under collegiate sports, the waste product that is generated by the money that accumulates in increasingly epic amounts and the reinforced poverty of the majority of its participants on the field through a system that is motivated to exploit that for the financial benefit of coaches and administrators.  And as Godfrey says, it ain’t changing any time soon.

If you want proof of that, look no further than college sports’ next gold rush:  sports betting.

There was $58 billion in illegal bets on pro and college football last season with only $2 billion bet legally, according to the American Sports Betting Coalition.

“It goes on – right? – in certain places already,” Florida coach Dan Mullen said. “When I open a newspaper there’s already a line on the game, so if you want to do it you can do it somewhere. I think maybe it becomes better regulated. I think a lot of things in the world, sometimes, it’s better to have things legal and regulated. This is something we’ll find out.”

The Supreme Court ruled on May 14 that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 is unconstitutional, siding with the state of New Jersey and other states wanting sports gambling.

Mississippi, which legalized sports betting last year in a law regulating fantasy sports, could have it implemented in its 28 casinos, as could other states already that had set the stage for sports betting including Delaware and West Virginia.

“The biggest thing is our administration is trying to get out in front of it but if it does go through, we spend a lot of time educating our players on what they can and cannot do,” Ole Miss coach Matt Luke said.

Sportsbooks could be in place by this football season, Allen Godfrey of the Mississippi Gaming Commission told The Athletic. Tennessee legislators are planning bills for the next session in January, according to WKRN.com.

“I’ve not seen any restrictions from some states on restricting college sports gambling,” SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said. “We need to prepare and have conversations about ground level issues.”

Those conversations are already happening this week as Sankey speaks to athletic directors, football coaches, men’s and women’s basketball coaches and presidents and chancellors here on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

He said he told coaches “the pressure on you may increase. On an NFL team there are 53 players that enter usually a fenced off facility. If you practice players here, you have twice that number. You have student-assistants, student trainers, student strength coaches, student support staff members not to mention large support staff members so there’s a lot of touch points. And then our student-athletes go onto campus to go to class. So we have to be thinking differently.”

Would schools get a piece of the action? Marshall and West Virginia have a tentative agreement for a cut in that state, according to ESPN.com.

Missouri joined Rutgers and UConn on a conference call with Major League Baseball in which a possible mechanism was discussed to have schools receive a percentage of the amount bet on college games.

“If some schools are really struggling to generate revenue, they may look at that as a revenue source,” Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity said.

People, when Greg McGarity, the face of the moral side of the Georgia Way, normalizes betting as a revenue source, the war’s over.  Now if someone could just explain to me how taking a piece of that action relates to schools’ sacred academic mission, I’d be much obliged.  Because I can’t make it fit, try as I might.

If I’m honest, I have to admit that while I take respectful issue with those clinging to what I call the romance of amateurism, I’m just as guilty in my own way of holding my nose to enjoy the game.  The only difference is that I’m feeling a greater degree of guilt, or disgust, or something I can’t even label properly than the romantics among us do.  I’ll say this, though — it’s getting harder with each passing reminder of how the money chase is thoroughly corrupting college athletics to maintain my passion.

Somebody asked me how long I plan to keep blogging.  That’s pretty easy to answer; a labor of love continues until the love is gone.  Right now, that love is being sorely tested.

And that, folks, largely rests on the shoulders of the NCAA, which to say the schools that make up its membership.  As much finger wagging and inept attempts at maintaining an enforcement framework as goes on, the sad reality is that the old joke about Big U violations of NCAA rules means it’s time to punish Little Guy A&M lives on proudly.  Just ask N.C. Central.

Blame the players for not accepting their exploitation gracefully, if that helps you make it through the night.  It won’t change events on the ground in the slightest.  And, honestly, that’s the cause of my greatest despair.  I don’t see a way out of this mess any time soon.  Even something as dramatic as Jeffrey Kessler winning isn’t going to change the way schools, athletic conferences and the NCAA have taken to whoring themselves out.  If anything, that would likely serve to intensify the money chase.  I’m afraid we’ve reached the point where the money chase is the only pure thing left in big-time college sports.

I think I’m close to discovering I don’t love sausage that much.

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74 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

74 responses to ““Nothing here has changed.”

  1. aladawg

    Well Michael, I can honestly say were it not for my Kids and Grandkids I would probably be done. The stench is overwhelming. The only time I get any comfort is when I am physically in the seats. Sad to see what has happened. My university is every bit as greedy as any……………..

    Like

  2. 3rdandGrantham

    A few weekends back I attended a collegiate baseball game and had a great time. Tickets were $5, the atmosphere was relaxed, there were no TV cameras or the general pomp and circumstance involved in national broadcasting, and it just felt like a true, rather innocent competition among college athletes who were competing for the mere love of the game. During the game itself, I kept thinking about how much the experience was a far cry from big time CFB or CBB competition that takes place in the spring/fall literally within steps of the baseball stadium. In other words, the same athletic program was running the show, yet the differences between the sports couldn’t have been any more stark.

    And while I wish I could wave a magic wand and transport CFB back to similar times of innocence, I know that is impossible, so I might as well enjoy it while I can until CFB truly becomes a mirror image of the NFL. Especially given the run UGA is about to go on, cashing in now would be akin to selling your Netflix stock back in 2013. That’s pretty much where I’m at, and to be frank I’m far less invested in UGA football now as I was 5 or 10 years ago anyway, so I’m happy with where I’m at in my support overall.

    Like

  3. Tim Rankine

    Sincerely appreciate your continual coverage of the s-storm that is the NCAA. You do Dawgs and SEC as good as anyone but the relentless focus on the sham that oversees college athletics is second to none.

    Like

    • DoubleDawg1318

      +10
      The coverage of NCAA issues (compensation, TV, etc.) is one of the top reasons I make daily visits to this place. Unfortunately, the news is rarely good.

      Like

  4. You have a point that my dad and I have discussed at length. I still watch UGA football just as fervently as ever but my interest in the sport as a whole has steeply declined. I only rarely watch other CFB games unless the directly impact Georgia. I don’t think this is something that only recently began happening; it just only recently began coming to light and being normalized.

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  5. Connor

    This is the hardest part. I am disgusted by what college football really is, but I can’t look away. It’s like a drug habit. I’m still reading this blog, following recruiting, watching the games with interest. At this point I’m over any pretense of the game changing, I’m worried about what this says about me.

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  6. SEB Dawg

    I very rarely comment, but I would like you to know that your blog is the first thing I read every day on UGA /College football. I can understand your frustrations and unfortunately I don’t think things are going to get better. I do want you to know how much over the years I have enjoyed your thoughts and musings. I hope you will take a page from the NCAA and keep “doing it for the kids”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Greg

      “I do want you to know how much over the years I have enjoyed your thoughts and musings.”

      Concur…..It all is very much appreciated. I don’t always agree with everything (but who does), but I do agree with most everything. Best blog on “these here internets”.

      Like

  7. Athens Dog

    On the one hand I can’t believe what’s happening to the game that i grew up loving………….on the other hand I still haven’t watched a replay of the bama game. So I’m still here but as you say, it’s getting harder and harder.

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    • Got Cowdog

      Me either but I have probably watched the rose bowl a dozen times or so.

      Keep on keeping on Senator, as long as you enjoy it. Rest assured we sure do. Many thanks.

      P.S.: If my Boss calls you never heard of me, right?

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  8. I know it won’t happen, but how about using betting revenue to pay college athletes? Is there a way that could work to where they would get what they deserve (or closer to it than what they get today)?

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    • Until the administrators and coaches stop looking to fill their own pockets, it won’t happen. That group of bureaucrats and PE teachers are greedy … nothing more, nothing less.

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  9. Former Fan

    I am right there with you Senator. I still read your blog, but I have cut way back on my reading about UGA sports in general. I still watch UGA play, but without near as much passion as I once did. I don’t even mind missing a game or three these days. It has been a while since I watched every UGA football game that came on TV. Gone are the days of football players being able to be real students with summers off. There’s a reason I changed my handle to “Former Fan”. My love of the game is dying. I still keep track of it, but nothing like I once did. I don’t think it will matter in the long run because there are more new fans than us old ones that are letting go. For the kids sake, I hope I am wrong and something can be done to grant them a level playing field where schools truly compete for their services.

    When a school can fire a coach as successful as CMR was, then we can rest assured, the game is not about the students. Its about money and winning first and foremost. The article pretty much makes that clear. Since that is the case, the students should be granted employee status for they are working just like those of us that work for a living are doing.

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  10. Keese

    Because there’s so much money involved- it would not shock me to see something bring down a hammer on all of them

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  11. Uglydawg

    About halfway through the read, I felt the need for a bath.

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  12. ASEF

    I will always enjoy college football. But in the aggregate that’s exactly what enables the situations outlined above.

    College basketball officiating isn’t any worse than CFB – but the NCAA and conferences are talking about officiating quality because people have stopped watching.

    Same with corruption. You could argue the corruption in basketball is worse due to local factors – impact of a single player, far more options for said impact players to choose from, which ramps up pressure on incentives – but it’s at best a slight difference in kind.

    The P5 are desperately trying to avoid that path in CFB, but they are losing because they srr misdefining the problem. Worse, they see the most obvious solutions as the problem. So, they are trapped.

    Wouldn’t it be ironic if, at the moment Georgia gets its coach of destiny, the dual pressures of CTE and NCAA hypocrisy cratered the sport’s popularity?

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  13. Bright Idea

    As somebody on this blog has repeatedly said the only way to drain this swamp is to eliminate athletic scholarships and let whatever unrecruited students show up fill out the teams. That will never happen.

    Like

  14. PTC DAWG

    Georgia Legislature and approving sports betting,…..LMAO..

    They are looking out for us..

    I’m not nearly as down on College Football as many of y’all…

    Enjoy your summer..

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  15. Russ

    I hear you Senator, and I feel that way, too. I just put blinders on and enjoy the games, but it’s hard to ignore the stench.

    Back before blogs and 24/7 football coverage, I had a friend that was “in the know”. He used to try to tell me some of the underhanded dealings and I’d always tell him I didn’t want to know.

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  16. BCDawg97

    Hate to hear those words. Understandable but I think even your most vocal “critics” on the site would miss the blog if it were gone. We are all Dawg fans, 1st and foremost. We all appreciate the labor of love this has been for you and would hate to see you go. Thanks for all you do for us on a daily basis. Bryan

    Liked by 1 person

  17. NCDawgMan

    Yes Sir Senator, if and when you decide CF is to dirty to deal with and turn out the lights. I will as many others do lose our only morning read. Hell, I even miss ya when you only post 2-3 times on a weekend. Keep on keeping on !

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dylan Dreyer's Booty

      Yes, yes, yes. I certainly will understand the Senator quitting when it gets to where he feels has to do so, but I will miss it mightily. In fact, let me offer a little balance just to hopefully make it harder for him to quit: as bad as things get there are some kernels to be enjoyed: the Rose Bowl, the Montana Project, and the post yesterday with all the clips from the MSU game are just a few.

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      • Beer Money

        Plus, Paul Johnson remains Georgia Tech’s head coach, Auburn has just signed on for 7 more years of the Gus Bus, and Tennessee and Florida have been lapped several times by UGA in the talent and depth department.

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  18. JCDAWG83

    I think I’ve adopted the same attitude towards college football that most people have towards congress. I think my team is great but all the other teams are crooked and greedy and they are ruining the sport for everyone.

    The Scam Newton affair at Auburn showed the NCAA’s true colors and Auburn showed the formula for defeating the NCAA. If you win big the NCAA will leave you alone because you are bringing in enough money that major punishment will hurt the NCAA. Ole Miss made the mistake of cheating in a ham handed way and getting caught (essentially the same thing Auburn did with Scam) but Ole Miss wasn’t able to win on a championship level with their ill gotten gains. The NCAA wasn’t about to completely look the other way or contrive some tortured result of their investigation that showed the players and coaches knew nothing about the payments from “rogue boosters”. Ole Miss had to be punished, not for the sin of paying players or the coach hiring whores with university resources but for the sin of not winning big enough and bringing in enough cash to the NCAA.

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    • Mayor

      It always gets back to Auburn. How can they get away with what they do and the NCAA still have any credibility at all?

      Like

  19. Money chase. It rules. Everywhere in our lives, home, religion and politics.

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  20. I don’t know of any other activity out there that can cause the sheer overwhelming joy that my family and friends all shared together, in my living room, when Sony scored that last TD in the Rose Bowl. I’ll stay with CFB until it does not have those effects anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bright Idea

      Sony got nothing tangible out of that but he seemed to enjoy the reward of making us all happy. Watching and following guys like him is what it is all about for me. High school athletics has become just as money driven as College just on a “cheaper” scale. As long as the money is available to meet the greed it will be that way.

      Like

    • 92 grad

      Well stated, let’s pray that we get at least 5 good years in.

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  21. Go Dawgs!

    Pay the players Pay the administrators. Pay the coaches. Pay the bagmen. I honestly don’t care who is getting money. I will always love college football as long as the game is played.

    The only thing that I find to be an existential threat to college football is the concussion crisis. When I see players with lifelong injuries and lives cut short from playing the game, that’s the only thing that gives me pause. And, to be honest, it does give me pause but as long as I see the commissioners and coaches making changes to the game in hopes of making it safer, I’m still all in on football. Money and corruption? I honestly don’t care. I want to see it cleaned up and most of all, I’d like to see the players get better compensation for their blood, sweat, and time than just the scholarship and cost of attendance.

    93 days until this crap goes away again for a while.

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  22. UGA '97

    Correct, thesee are the continued exploitative money grabs surrounding college sports today.
    CFB has entered gambling, booze and guns territory, justified as “improvements to the gameday experience” but presented as “..this is for all college sports…” just to get them passed. This is similar to what is called increased Wallet Share by corporations. All the while the kids the may soon be facing 16-17 games per season if expansion comes next, but they have no right to make money of their likeness. The answer to how long blogging continues likely equates to when the love/passion for the sport no longer exceeds the money bubble, which finally pops.

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  23. Doggoned

    If you can, hang in there, Bluto. When you go, it’s gonna get a lot lonelier out here for old school UGA fans.

    Like

  24. Mark

    Senator, what impact do you think a national championship game that ended one play earlier would be having on your feelings, if any?

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  25. Bob

    “Labor of love” I just spewed my tea!
    I’m sure you forward those checks from advertising, etc. to a worthy cause…

    Like

    • Again, it never ceases to amaze me how some of you are sure I’ve become filthy rich from ad revenue. I split the ad money 50/50 with WP.

      As I keep saying to people like you, there’s a reason I don’t quit my day job as a lawyer and it’s not because that’s a labor of love.

      For what it’s worth, there weren’t any ads at the site until six years in. If that’s not a labor of love, what is it?

      Sorry about your tea, but maybe you should take your reading elsewhere if this bothers you.

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  26. DoubleDawg1318

    What shocked me about the story was not Ole Miss playing dirty. It was Dan Mullen and MSU allegedly working to torpedo Ole Miss through the NCAA. Most importantly, I was surprised to see the NCAA terminate the investigation at Ole Miss when it could have gone a lot further. I’ve hated the Ole Miss fans who protested the NCAA’s actions but now I kind of get where they are coming from. It might be possible to say that Ole Miss is guilty as sin and the fix was in from NCAA at the same time while more successful programs dodge any consequences.

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  27. HiAltDawg

    I feel you but sadly I’m the sucker that keeps coming back for more and wrecks the whole thing for everyone. The highs from the Notre Dame and Rose Bowl trips last season will keep me chasing. I’m going to read this blog everyday and now I’m going to click on ads more often

    Like

  28. ApalachDawg

    I’m just enjoying it for what it is.
    College football has been in the sewer since the days of Jim Thorpe as they were using steel mill workers to play for colleges in OH and PA. This is why the academies and the Ivy League took a hard right turn away from all that nonsense.
    Shockingly 99% of those students are there to be educated first and get to play in a “cool” intramural league. But of course no one is destroying trees over Princeton v Columbia.
    It has been going down since that time but the downward spiral has been injected with rocket fuel brought on by an obscene infusion of tv dollar bills.
    I only regret that the Dawgs have finally got their crap together and it may all blow up before we achieve our just place on top of the college football world.

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  29. Bulldog Joe

    Wait until word gets out on the money grab Butts-Mehre has in store for us for parking in 2018.

    This week, I hear they are rolling out $2,500-minimum contribution plus increased game-day pricing for access to the parking decks outside of east campus.

    I am also hearing those responsible in B-M are taking vacation while leaving the student volunteers to take the calls from angry season ticket holders.

    Let me know if y’all are hearing the same thing.

    (I am not trying to be negative, of course.)

    Like

    • Bulldog Joe

      Now I’m hearing $2,500 annual contribution for parking. Wow.

      Like

    • HiAltDawg

      The UGA Staff Listserve had a topic that North Deck was no longer an option. Probably for the Tailgating company at Reed Hall

      Like

      • Bulldog Joe

        I learned the Athletic Department took control of the North Deck and several others for the 2018 season.

        Someone has to pay for those contract extensions.

        That ‘someone’ is us.

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  30. AceDawg

    Go Dawgs – That is still my thought. The corruption is not pretty, nor are the various rules governing coaches vs. players, but it isn’t as though things are worse on the corruption scale than they were in past decades. On the contrary, the public money universities are getting through bigger TV contracts, etc, might be lowering the overall scale of under the table corruption. Now the athletes get slides to go down at Clemson, DJ booths at UGA, and big time meals, hang out facilities, and an altogether fancy lifestyle for a few years that at least slightly diminishes the need for off the field “benefits.”

    Like

    • AceDawg

      Mississippi is just a backwards place we should sit back and eat some popcorn over as we watch the action unfold. Bowl bans, scholarship reductions, and coach blocks are all welcome, however.

      Like

  31. Athens Dog

    The Athletic has gotten rid of most of the trolls by inventing itself as a paid site for content. Senator, I’d gladly do the same for GTP.

    Like

  32. 209

    This is the best site on the old interweb. You should not quite because I enjoy this site very much and therefore you should sacrifice your time and mental health for my pleasure.
    That makes since to me..

    Like

  33. steve

    I’m glad nobody gives a shit what I think. My Georgia born and bred wife of 45 years says that’s for a good reason. Anyway, my only thought about this topic is that as long as I continue to get life-sustaining energy when Auburn loses (to anyone) then I don’t care about financial computations, corruption and hypocrisy. I am disappointed when there is an SEC FB scandal that doesn’t begin or end with Auburn. In fact, I KNOW they are guilty even if they aren’t mentioned.
    And Senator, you have a second-level intuition and writing skill that is the editorial equivalent to an Excel worksheet for an SPSS nerd. Your audience appreciates you and your talent (and sometimes your music). 2018 is going to be the year the Karma bus throws all the clowns, beggars and cowboys off and drives right to Sanford ignoring stop signs while Kirby sits on the horn. It’s not the right time to get off. When Kirby runs down Muschamp we are going to find out why he is called Boom when the wheels roll over his big Georgia-hating mouth.

    Like

  34. No Axe to Grind

    Money makes the world go around. Just take a look at the Congress of the United States, and the fools that keep voting them in. It’s all the same thing. Better get used to it.

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  35. I really enjoy your site and never get tired of the rants about Div. 1 football. I guess the reason is, I have about totally given up on watching Div. 1 football and even UGA. The reason is, as described, the total corruption across the board. Money does make the world go round and has ruined a lot of things-and this from a capitalist. from someone who had season tickets for a long time to UGA and UDub.

    Like

    • No Axe to Grind

      Alamosa: Your comment is very interesting to me, who lives in WA State six months out of the year. My wife did a residency at UDub. Just out of academic curiosity, what is your relationship with WA State, and, if I may ask, UDub? Do you reside in WA State? No Axe

      Like

      • No Axe to Grind: I lived and worked in the state for 40 years. Went to school at WWU(graduated)and UW(for a short while). My wife graduated from UW, well WWU, also. We no longer live in WA state, but our family does. Moved to help family member in their old age. Try to get back at least three times a year. Daughter is a UW grad, and grandsons: UW and WWU. we really like the Puget Sound area, but the house prices keep us out of the area. Originally from South GA.

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  36. Oh yeah, I forgot to add: I just saw the Senator in his 54 million dollar jet, bought by all of us. Enjoy the ride. Just joking, so you won’t get too riled up.

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  37. Mayor

    FWIW Senator I agree with everything you said in your post.

    Like