Wednesday, September 15, 2010

On Reggie Bush and the NCAA's Hypocrisy

Wall Street's Gordon Gekko said it best: "Greed, for lack of a better word, is good." There's also the great caveat that it also comes at the expense of someone else. In Wall Street, that would be all the companies Gekko bought out and Bud Fowler (Charlie Sheen) losing his soul and freedom chasing the cash.

Reggie Bush lost his records, his reputation, his career at USC (stripped by NCAA sanctions) and now his Heisman that he gave back. He's the new Bud Fowler - the golden child who (along with his family) trying to get some money on the side and was punished and "humiliated."

Meanwhile the NCAA (Gekko) allowed several conferences to expand last summer with the Pac-10 and others getting new teams. Colorado is joining the Pac-10, Nebraska goes to the Big 10. Why would teams break up traditional rivalries and years of history to go somewhere else. Location? Competition? It's all for the cash so that teams could increase the power of their conference and dip into more money.

The NCAA has also in the past few years increased the number of bowl games in December and started playing games during the middle of the week. But remember they won't have a college football playoff that could easily bring in more money because they care about student athletes playing too many games late in the semester/quarter.

Uh, okay? A playoff is bad but scheduling more bowl games to water down the bowl system, take kids away from studying in Finals season (December) is good? Hey, greed is good remember! I digress.

Reggie has given back his pound of flesh. It won't take away the fact that he was the most electrifying player I've seen in my 15 years watching college football and helped make USC relevant once again (believe it or not, UCLA dominated the SoCal football landscape in the late 90's/early 2000's).

But here's some questions I have for the NCAA if they care about fixing the problem.

- Why does USC keep the money they made off him even if they have to erase him from their history?
- Why doesn’t the NCAA call for agents to lose their license or be punished for targeting THEIR athletes.
- Why does the NCAA wag its collective fingers at players getting money but in the same breath promote conference expansion, bowl game expansion during Finals season and games played during the week?

It's all dandy when athletes bring in all kinds of money for a program but if they try to get a slice, it's a threat to all that is "pure and good" with amateur sports. I'm not in favor of them getting money illegally and I'm not saying that athletes ruin their good name by being greedy. The NCAA does a decent job in telling their kids not to get the quick buck but that's not enough anymore.

Meanwhile coaches can switch jobs in the middle of contracts, lie to programs about being loyal and get nothing except incredible backlash from fans and media (Nick Saban, Lane Kiffin and many more). They chase the cash or a better job and it's all good. They can be recruited by other programs and it's all good.

Players? Just raw material they bring in that they can replace every year. Be workers, be proud of your free room and board, be proud of being stars on your campus. Just don't be mad we make all this money off you and you better not rock the boat, embarrass our name or dare look for ways to get illegal money.

Oh yeah, if you do, we'll try to look the other way because you're helping us win.

I'm telling the NCAA to stop cutting off the branches and attack the root. Athletes have been ripe for corruption since the 1950 point shaving scandal with City College of New York. Instead of fighting gamblers, corrupt agents, forcing schools to suspend boosters and tackling the bigger problem, they smash small potatoes like Bush and Georgia running back AJ Green, who was suspended for trying to sell an autographed jersey. Nevermind Georgia has several jerseys for sale with his number.

I'm a fan of integrity. I always believed players should never take money because if they have a shot at the pros, wait a few years. You waited 18-19 before college? Do it a few more years and then you're set for life. But I know how times have changed and college programs and the NCAA have gone out of their way to expand the game while making oodles of cash.

Like Jay-Z said, "I'm only trying to eat what you're snacking on."

Reggie Bush is one of many who've taken the wrong way out (and far from the only one at USC). But watch USC wash their hands of him despite still recruiting off the fumes of his era. Watch the NCAA announce the latest partnership that fattens their pockets. Then tell me Reggie Bush is still the only villain in this game.

Like Gekko said, greed is good. I'll add that it's only good for those control it. Those who threaten to undermine it, their greed or noble pursuit of cash is a threat to the natural order. It's hypocrisy. It's capitalism at its worst and sports is just another partner in this game. You can cut off the branches but the root still lives.

(The title of the sequel next week says it all)

1 comment:

  1. Amen all around. Reggie takes the hit for a corrupt system. Not unlike Chris Webber in Michigan, but definitely in a bigger & more humiliating way.
    NCAA is slower to fix their blatant flaws than Bud Selig/MLB.