Criticizing the NCAA is the lowest of low-hanging fruit. You can essentially pick the apples up off the ground, and have a roiling take. The latest punishments, or lack thereof, handed down to LSU football and men’s basketball last week were predictably lax and anything but a hindrance for schools to carry on habitually line stepping. However, I think if you’d ask the fans, they would applaud the lack of oversight, because a lot of the violations are superfluous, outdated, and prevent an unpaid workforce from receiving long-overdue compensation.
The Bayou Bengal programs received three years of probation each, and former LSU basketball coach Will Wade got a two-year show clause and a 10-game suspension that he will serve at his current gig, McNeese State.
Once NIL deals demolished the notion that there’s not enough money to pay players, pundits — who have for years screamed about integrity and a degree being a reward in itself — were forced to accept this new reality, or find something else to get upset over. They have no dead horse to kick, yet insist on standing over its rotting corpse and yelling, “What’s the point of the NCAA anymore?”
Well, that odorous flesh is the point. College athletics are a free-for-all, and there must be a scapegoat for this anarchy. We know the universities themselves will never assume accountability, so let’s march out the NCAA and let the firing squad let it rip for the umpteenth time. Next up after that: NIL money and the transfer portal, but never, ever the system that perpetuates this corruption.
I can at least respect this version of the NCAA that knows its role as a powerless institution and leans into it. The organization’s new president, Charlie Baker, admitted that he took the job because the NCAA is in such disrepair. He can act like he’s going to fix it all he wants, but if he fails, and he’s set up to, no one will blame him. It’s an impossible task, and at the very least hopefully he can be ineffective enough to maintain the status quo.
Ask yourself: Would you rather enjoy a college football Saturday with a full slate of blue bloods, or go through one where half the flowerbed is trampled and dying? It’s a no-brainer, right? Tiger Stadium is one of the best atmospheres of any sport, and it’s insane that a non-criminal offense would put that at risk, even for a season.
And I’ll say the same for Alabama, North Carolina, Duke, Florida, Ohio State, Michigan, USC, UCF, Oregon State, Iowa State, Texas Tech, or any other member school. Save for heinous stuff like the Baylor rape scandal or a crime in that realm, I don’t want the NCAA dropping the gavel at all. If a ruling is absolutely necessary for a misdemeanor offense, give them one of those squeaky hammers and let the grandstanding begin.
It’s time to end this charade and accept college athletics in all their sleazy glory. This shit isn’t The Blind Side. Sandra Bullock isn’t going to let you sleep on her couch out of the goodness of her heart. Protect the quarterback, win games, or get the fuck out.
Paul Finebaum was so angry that he deemed the LSU ruling an invitation for schools to “cheat like crazy” as if the conference he’s in the pocket of hasn’t been bending the rules for decades. That’s also not reserved for the southeast portion of the country. There’s not a perennial contender in college athletics with a skeleton-free closet, and I’m OK with that.
Yes, college sports is facing five goliaths, but you can’t expect the NCAA to defeat Al-Qaeda, global warming, sex predators… mercury poisoning. It’s patently absurd that the media so desperately needs someone, something to blame, and can’t think of where to search. The buck doesn’t stop and start with the NCAA, so stop acting like it’s the only culpable party.