Monday, June 13, 2011

Improper Benefits

Remember last year's Sugar Bowl? What was that eligibility question...?
Improper benefits have pretty much been the major story line in cfb for a few seasons now. From USC and Reggie Bush to Cam Newton and now Tressel, Pryor, and OSU. We've seen reclaimed Heismans, vacated BCS titles, complicit coaches shooed out of town, and all sorts of handouts, payoffs, cars, tattoos, and god knows what else. But I don't feel we've seen a fair response or an honest attempt to fix the problem. Like I said a couple weeks ago, we've gone beyond financial need and character flaws, here; entitlement's the problem. Your superstar QB will always think he deserves more than your second string tight end and will find a way to get it. And there will always be someone there waving the cash. That's where the problem lies: the man waving the cash.
We actually have a name and face for the problem at OSU, Dennis Talbot. And I say he's the one to go after. I mean, let's grow up here and realize that blaming a 19-year old kid in such an exploitative/entitled system is getting us nowhere. Of course they'll take the handout; every one's not Tim Tebow - and Tebow wouldn't be Tebow without the advantages of his family and upbringing (but the SES stuff can wait for another post) - they're kids, and most of them are from poor backgrounds. And we blame them? I say go after the sleazy-ass lawyers/businessmen/agents/reps/etc. that prey on these talented kids. Make it a federal crime, a felony, to pass improper benefits on to players. Weed them out, hoe them up, and spray the remnants.

Until we do that, nothing's going to change.

Now, I'm not saying to let the kids off scot-free. If they take the handouts, they sit-out the time. Beyond that, we might need to revisit some ideas, like what a 'gift' is, or someone selling their own 'property.' We also need to rethink institutional penalties. I have no problem with OSU trying to stem off further penalties by forcing out Jim Tressel. I think it should actually lessen whatever the NCAA levels at them. Take USC for instance, the punishment does not fit the crime for those who actually broke the rules/allowed the violations to take place. Reggie Bush and Pete Carroll are in the NFL, banking millions. Meanwhile, kids who were in middle school when Bush broke the rules can't play in a bowl game and a coaching staff who had nothing to do with Carroll's dynasty have a short hand to play. The people who should pay the price are the illegal agents and the coaches.

Being punished all the way to the bank.
 I know it's not a perfect system punishing coaches for something they in theory might not know about - but, once again, let's grow up. They know it happens, whether they've apparently built their success on it and covered for it (Tressel) or they simply haven't been quite vigilant enough, because they know they're benefiting and no one can link them directly to any wrong doing (Um, everybody else?). These kids make millions for their universities, and it's reflected in the coaches' paychecks. I say put some of that money on the line. We have payouts for coaches, why not have personal penalties. Maybe then they'd be a little more involved and take compliance more seriously.

While we're at it, we should think about longer reaching repercussions for certain players, too.There's no reason that any individual player who profits from football as a career after incurring a certain level of penalties shouldn't pay some more of the price later. Let Reggie Bush have his salary trimmed with fines and fees, scholarship programs at USC, donations to charity or the NCAA fund, etc. For this to work, the NFL will have to get involved, and all the laws in the world won't mean anything until they do. Reforming this is almost impossible without their influence.

Uh, a little help here guys?
In the end, though, save the big punishment for the parasites individuals who take advantage of the system most. We need to stick it to the Dennis Talbots of the world. Is Terrelle Pryor a douche? Absolutely. But I'm not the same person I was when I was 19 or 20. There's still a chance for these kids to mature and make better decisions. For a 40-year old Dennis Talbot, who flashes cash and entices kids to sign memorabilia or make appearances at a kid's party, that ship sailed a long time ago. He is who he is. And who he is is the problem. Now it's time to solve it.

1 comment:

  1. Nicely done. I think the NCAA could benefit from the insights of FTS.