THIS IS PART two of Couch Slouch's two-part series on the folly of college football. Today's focus is on the sport's "student-athletes," whom I prefer calling "non-student-athletes," because, well, they are.
Yes, there are some Division I student-athletes who balance academics and athletics, and, yes, it's an arduous task. But that's a small percentage of the Alabama offensive line or, in college basketball, the Kentucky starting five.
And when I say "small percentage," I'm being kind: In some cases, the percent is zero.
When I went to the University of Maryland, there was an unwritten rule - if you were in a class with a football player, it was a "gut course," a.k.a. A Sleeping Llama With a Bag Over His Head Could Pass This Baby Just By Showing Up in Cargo Shorts. Alas, you didn't always know if you were in a course with football players, because most of them would not attend a day of class.
The fact of the matter is - and people hate admitting this:
1. College is not for everyone.
2. Even if college is for you, that might mean DeVry University.
At most big-time Division I college football programs, the players have no interest in a college education. So let's kill two feathered frauds with one stone:
Just pay the players to represent the schools on the field and don't pretend they're students anymore. If they want to enroll, great. Otherwise, they're independent contractors, like the fellow who owns the vending machines in the dorm halls; I mean, he's not a "student-vendor," is he?
Besides, the amount of illicit activity to lure these non-student-athletes to campus could choke a Trojan horse, and once they're there, it morphs into a hurry-up offense of illicit activity to keep them there.
Which brings us, briefly, to Johnny Manziel, the nation's first throw-it-one-day-and-sign-it-the-next Heisman-winning quarterback.
Lost in the sublime hilarity of Manziel's opening-week, half-game sit-down was the fact that Texas A&M already had suspended four players for violating athletic-department rules and three other players - one of them, believe it or not, also for a single half - for offseason arrests. You've got to admire A&M's creative discipline; I assume a special-teams player, for a minor misdeed, might be suspended for, say, three punts and an onside kick.
Which brings us, briefly, to the ongoing, two-years-plus investigation of the Miami/Nevin Shapiro debacle - they're currently reviewing the Zapruder film - in which the NCAA is investigating its own investigation for unethical practices. I have visions of NCAA president Mark Emmert hunched over in an Indianapolis office with a magnifying glass, some microfilm, a diorama and an "NSA for Dummies" handbook.
Which brings us, briefly, to Oregon, which, for major rules violations in recruiting, lost one scholarship player for each of the next three years and received no postseason bowl ban. Now, if the Ducks had committed really, really major rules violations, I've got to figure the NCAA would've thrown the book at them.
Which brings us, briefly, to the Southeastern Conference, the American mecca of the student-athlete myth. Yahoo! Sports reported last week that five SEC players, including former Alabama all-America tackle D.J. Fluker, allegedly received "impermissible benefits" - uh, cash - while in school.