Leave it to Charlie Pierce to sum up everything that offends me about college football’s latest postseason structure, not to mention what’s coming down the turnpike sooner than I’d like:
First of all, absent a tectonic shift in the way college sports do their business — which would include a fathomless fault into which the NCAA would have to fall, never to rise again — any playoff system is just another gimmick by which the wrong people make the most money. … I do not believe that what the country really needed was one more gargantuan television event that makes the parasitical power structure of college sports even richer, that provides yet another boon to the national gaming-industrial complex, and that allows people who wouldn’t know Wallace Wade from Wally Cleaver to pretend that they care about college football.
Already, the new system has been embraced so enthusiastically by all the institutions of the tottering plutocracy of college sports that it has deformed the regular season. There is no way for the new system to make sense of the SEC West, for example, which is so fat with talent that it virtually has blotted out the rest of the country — so much so that it is entirely possible that a backlash elsewhere may force a lesser team into the field just so people won’t think the whole system is in the tank for a league that does, after all, have its own television network, with CBS Sports (virtually) serving as another one. It will not be long before we hear calls for an expanded playoff system because the current one is unfair to “the kids” who play in leagues less beloved by television executives. And it will become a genuine tournament, which means it will get bigger, louder, and all of its faults will become worse.
All that’s missing there is a reference to brackets. Maybe that will come one day when he writes something about the new 16-team playoffs.
Charlie Pierce, ladies and gentlemen.
And now it will fall to the NCAA, God help us, to parcel out blame and responsibility and punishment. At this point, of course, the NCAA is little more than a walking conflict of interest, and an absurd one, at that. The NCAA would not exist if players were not paid under the table. The NCAA would not exist if so many of its “member institutions” weren’t playing ethical mumblety-peg with their academic integrity to keep the players eligible and the money flowing everywhere except into the pockets of the people doing all the real work. There is absolutely no way this will end well. There is absolutely no way this will not end hilariously, however.
Ain’t that the truth.
Brandon Larrabee, in a piece analyzing Georgia’s 2014 schedule, shoots and scores with this bad boy about the season’s end:
And then there’s the game against a helplessly overmatched team. Oh, I’m sorry, got that backwards. Charleston Southern is next, then it’s the annual rivalry game against Georgia Tech.
Nothing wrong with the occasional cheap shot at humor. Gentry Estes gets my nod today. He’s got a piece up about Georgia’s two smallest players, J.J. Green and Isaiah McKenzie. Here’s one thing he had to say about the former vying for the starting spot at Star:
He hasn’t locked down the position, but he’s still on the short list.
He’ll be here all week, ladies and gentlemen. Don’t forget to try the veal.
I was going to cite this post as another reason Georgia’s secondary may not have to do as much heavy lifting this season as we fear, but then I got to this paragraph…
The Gamecocks have some of the best wide receivers you’ll ever see in practice. Of course that’s mostly because they’re playing against a mixture of inexperience and hot garbage at the cornerback position after hotshot recruits Wesley Green and Chris Lammons forgot that they had to meet some basic standards to enroll at South Carolina. I know! I’m just as shocked as you are! To be perfectly fair, there’s probably a pair of admissions waivers with “Green” and “Lammons” written on them underneath a pile of Coors Light cans on Steve Spurrier’s desk in the football offices, but it’s the summer and it’s five o’clock somewhere so why don’t y’all piss on off until August because the HBC is trying to keep a buzz and play a few holes.
… and promptly forgot what I was gonna write.
Man, I can’t touch that.
Ivan Maisel reads the John Bacon piece I linked to the other day on how Michigan’s marketing is backfiring and sums things up beautifully:
Treat college fans like customers, they’ll start acting like customers instead of people with emotional ties to the product.
At your peril, bitches. At your peril.
One of the well-used arguments against unionization is the Pandora’s Box. Let student-athletes form a union and it’ll be an invitation for all kinds of trouble – Title IX, taxes, you name it. Things will be worse and nobody’s thought that through! How can unionization possibly go ahead before all the peripheral questions are answered?
Brian Phillips neatly skewers that line of reasoning.
Fine, but do we have to pay squash players? And what happens to athletes’ student status if they’re also employees? Can they be fired? What if some teams vote to unionize and some teams don’t? And what about tax implications? What about Title IX?
I have no idea! One of the neat strategies you’ll see the NCAA’s defenders deploy in the wake of the Northwestern ruling is to start throwing out a million practical questions that have yet to be resolved, as though, if you can’t immediately answer all of them, they must be totally impossible to solve. “I don’t know what happens to their meal cards!” you’re supposed to cry in this situation, throwing your hands up to the heavens. “Therefore change is futile and I have no choice but to agree that the student-athlete system is the key to success in the classroom, on the field, and in life!”
But this is ludicrous. Reform of a big organization like the NCAA is inevitably going to involve a lot of tough questions. Maybe Ultimate Frisbee at Middlebury isn’t a job in the same way basketball at Kentucky is. Maybe some provision will be necessary to make sure women’s sports are treated fairly. But you know what? People build multinational corporations and reasonably functional democracies. People deal with trickier problems than college-sports revenue distribution all the time. Raising objections as though the mere existence of practical difficulties shuts down the conversation is the stalling tactic of an exhausted debater. It’s the move of someone with nothing left to defend.
Of course, it’s possible that college football is run by people who really aren’t capable of dealing with tricky problems. (Mark Emmert, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.) Even that doesn’t mean you don’t try, though.
Anyway, good stuff, nicely put.