Tag Archives: ncaa football

The NCAA College Football Bowl Season Money Machine

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College football bowl season is almost over and after seeing many bad games played by less than stellar teams in sometimes nearly empty stadiums I decided to look at attendance, team records, game results and the money machine. It really is an amazing machine that the NCAA has set up.

Of the 35 bowl games, 32 have been played. 70 teams have or will have played in post season bowl games this year. Of the approximately 2,261,902 available seats in the already played games about 1,497,113 were filled, about 66% of the available seats.  In all about $273,586,425 will be paid to the athletic conferences and schools sending teams to bowl games.

The attendance numbers at the remaining three games should move the overall percentage up a bit but I expect that the total number of seats filled at the games will be under 70%. The biggest game payouts go to the four BCS bowl games and the BCS Championship game which are $17 million dollars per team, $18 million for the championship game.

Since attendance and ticket sales cannot possibly cover these kinds of payouts. For the BCS games alone ESPN which has the current contract is approximately $125 million a season. This does not include the Rose Bowl which had a previous contract with ABC. The other bowl games, many of which are also carried by ESPN bring in more television revenues. The format will change in 2015 and ESPN will air the BCS playoff games and the National Championship Game. The contract for 84 games over a 12 year period is worth $7.3 billion or about $610 million a year.

That is just a drop in the bucket because there is much more money that will be made. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that “ESPN, Fox Sports, Comcast/NBC, Turner, and CBS had agreed over the last 20 months to pay $72.4 billion for the national rights to televise live games well into the next decade.” 

Television revenues are also distributed to the conferences which in turn distribute them to their teams. Despite the money involved for some schools lose money by going to a bowl due to the costs of travel and lodging for the teams as well as bands and other school officials. Where does the money go? It goes to the athletic conferences who then dole it out to their programs. The players get none of the  revenue. Some are on scholarships but the amount of scholarship money pales in comparison with the money brought in. The players images are bought and sold but they get nothing and if if a player so much as sells a jersey he has worn he can be disqualified from the NCAA.

The proliferation of the bowls has led to many games where teams with marginal records have played including one team with a losing record. However on the plus side of this the games are a chance for college players, most of whom will never see a professional football contract one last chance under the the lights, one last chance at glory. It also serves as a boost for the schools, their fans, alumni and boosters. Since a lot of the schools are smaller and in small television markets the bowl games give them national exposure that they would not get elsewhere. Some of this actually draws students to them.

The sponsors of this years games are an interesting collection. They include defense contractors, oil companies, retailers, clothing manufacturers, banks and other financial services, insurance companies, online services, transportation companies and even the leading owner of online college education programs and universities. That last one is pure irony since they sponsor no athletic programs of their own.

Some of the sponsors are controversial. The Gildan company is a large sportswear company with a long history of reported worker rights and abuses.

Many of the bowls have gone by different names as the years have gone by including some the the older games. Many of gone by other monikers and have changed their name whenever a new sponsor took charge. One example is the Chick-fil-a Bowl in Atlanta. For decades it was known as the Peach Bowl but when Chick-fil-a took it over that long held name was consigned to history.

It is interesting because if you look at attendance and the money that is made it is obvious that the NCAA, which shamelessly uses the young men playing in these games is making money hand over fist. I wonder how much is actually going toward education, especially in an age of austerity where education programs are being cut. The money is in the billions, not millions, but billions. One has to ask. I mean really. It seems to me that the NCAA is playing the pimp here, with us as the customer.

The indirect beneficiary of the bowl games and the NCAA college football programs is the National Football League which does not have to pay for a minor league system as does major league baseball.

I have listed the bowl games for this season, their sponsors as well as their attendance, results and payouts below.

Gildan New Mexico Bowl, University Stadium Albuquerque New Mexico (39,224/24,610  62.7%) Arizona (7-5) 49 Nevada (7-5) 48. The sponsor Gildan has a long history of worker rights complaints and abuses in Canada, Central America and in Haiti. It make low cost t-shirts and other garments and is the largest supplier of blank sports apparel in the world. Payout $456,250 per team.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Bronco Stadium Boise Idaho. (37,000/29,423  75.4%) Utah State #22 (10-2) 41 Toledo (9-3) 15. Now Sponsored by the Idaho Potato Commission. Payout $325,000 per team. 21,759The last sponsor Roady’s Truck Stops called it the Humanitarian Bowl, a name that the game lost when uDrove became the sponsor and moved it to Payout $325,000 per team.

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego California (70,561/35,422 50.2%) BYU (7-5) 23 San Diego State (9-3) 6. Payouts $500,000 per team.

Beef O’Brady’s Bowl, Tropicana Field Tampa Florida (42,735/21,759 50.9%) UCF (9-3) 38  Ball State (9-4) 17. Payout $500,000 per team.

R & L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, Mercedes Benz Superdome New Orleans Louisiana. (73,208/48,828 67%) Louisiana Lafayette (8-4) 43 East Carolina (8-4) 34 Payout $500,000 per team.

MAACO Bowl, Sam Boyd Stadium Las Vegas Nevada (36,800/33,281 90.4%) Boise State #19 (10-2) 28 Washington (7-5) 26 Payout $1.1 Million per team. Waiting for the Earl Scheib or Bondo Bowl.

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, Aloha Bowl Halawa Hawaii (50,000/30,024 60.55) SMU (6-6) 43 Fresno State (9-3) 10 Payout $650,000 per team

Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl, Ford Field Detroit Michigan (65,000/23,310 35.8%) Central Michigan (6-6) 24 Western Kentucky (7-5) 21 Payout $750,000 per team formerly known as the Motor City Bowl.  Terrible turnout to damage an otherwise nice baseball field.

Military Bowl Presented By Northrop-Grumman, Robert F Kennedy Memorial Stadium, Washington DC (56,692/17,635 31.1%) San Jose State (10-2) 29 Bowling Green (8-4) 20 Payout $1 million per team.

Belk Bowl, Bank of America Stadium Charlotte North Carolina, (73,778/48,128 65.2%) Cincinnati (9-3) 48 Duke (6-6) 34 Payout $1.7 per team. Formerly known as the Meineke Car Care Bowl.

Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl, Qualcomm Stadium San Diego California (70,561/55,507 78.6%) Baylor (7-5) 49 UCLA #19 (9-4) 26. Payout $2,075,000 per team. The biggest owner of for profit schools a without football of its own hosts a bowl.

Advocare Independence Bowl, Independence Stadium Shreveport Louisiana (53,000/41,853 80%) Ohio University (8-4) 45 Louisiana Monroe (8-4) 14. Payout $1.1 million per team.

Russell Athletic Bowl, Orlando Florida (65,438/48,127  75.3%) Virginia Tech University  (6-6) 13 Rutgers University (9-3) 10. Why can’t we have the Bike Athletic Supporter Bowl instead, I would love to see the “cup.” Payout $2,275,000 per team.

Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, Reliant Stadium Houston Texas (71,054/50,386 71%) Texas Tech (7-5) 34 Minnesota (6-6) 31. Payout $1.7 million per team.

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, Amon G Carter Stadium, Fort Worth Texas (45,000/40,754 90.6%) Rice (6-6) 33 Air Force (6-6) 14. Payout $1 Million per team.

New Era Pinstripe Bowl, Yankee Stadium, New York New York (54,251/39,098  73.1%) Syracuse University (7-6) 38 West Virginia University (7-6) 14. Another football game in a stadium designed for baseball. A travesty. Payout $1.8 million per team.

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, AT&T Park San Francisco California (41,915/34,172  81.5%) Arizona State University (8-4) 62 US Naval Academy (7-5) 28. Ditto as far as destroying a beautiful baseball field. Interesting that the company that prospered due to its Mac and Cheese is the sponsor of the Fight Hunger Bowl. Do they do take out in Haiti? Payout $837,500 per team.

Valero Alamo Bowl, The Alamo Dome San Antonio Texas (72,000/65,277  90.6%) University of Texas (8-4) 31 Oregon State University #15 (8-3) 27 Payout $3,175,000 per team.

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Sun Devil Stadium Tempe Arizona (71,706/44,617 62.2%) Michigan State University (6-6) Texas Christian University (7-5) 16. Payout $3,350,000 per team.

Franklin American Mortgage Company Music City Bowl, LP Field Nashville Tennessee (67,700/55,801 82.4%) Vanderbilt University (8-4) North Carolina State University (7-5) 24 Payout 1,837,500 per team.

Hyundai Sun Bowl, Sun Bowl Stadium El Paso Texas, (51,500/47,922  93%) Georgia Tech University (6-7) 21 University of Southern California (7-5) 7. Payout $2 Million per team.

Auto Zone Liberty Bowl, Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium Memphis Tennessee (61,008/53,687 88%) Tulsa University (10-3) 31 Iowa State University (6-6) 17 Payout $1,437,000 per team.

Chick-fil-a Bowl, Georgia Dome Atlanta Georgia (71,228/68,027 95.5%) Clemson #14 (10-2) 25 LSU #9 (10-2) 24. Payout $3,967,000 ACC/ $2,932,500 SEC Formerly long known as the Peach Bowl.

Heart of Dallas Bowl Presented by Plains Capital Bank, Cotton Bowl Dallas Texas (92,100/ 48,313 52.4%) Oklahoma State University (7-5) 58 Perdue University (6-6) 14 Payout $1.1 million per team.

Tax Slayer.com Gator Bowl EverBank Field Jacksonville Florida (84,000/48,612  57.9%) $3.5 million per team. Northwestern University #20 (9-3) Mississippi State University (8-4) 20. Payout $3.5 million per team.

Outback Bowl, Raymond James Stadium Tampa Florida (65,908/54,527 82.7%) University of South Carolina #11 (10-2) University of Michigan #19 (8-4) 28 Payout $3.4 million per team.

Capital One Bowl, Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando Florida (65,438/59,712  91.2%) University of Georgia #6 (11-2) 45 University of Nebraska #23 (10-3) 31. Payout $4.550,000 per team

Rose Bowl Presented by Vizeo , the Rose Bowl Pasadena California (94,392/91,425 96.8%) University of Oregon #6 (11-2) 45 University of Wisconsin #9 (11-2) 38. Payout $17 million per team.

Discover Orange Bowl, Sun Life Stadium Miami Gardens Florida (78,383/72,073 91.9%) Florida State University #13 (11-2) 31 Northern Illinois University #16 (12-1) 10. Payout $17 million per team.

Allstate Sugar Bowl, Mercedes Benz Super-Dome New Orleans Louisiana (73,208/54,178 74%) University of Louisville #22 (10-2) 33 University of Florida #4 (11-1) 23. Payout $17 million per team.

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale Arizona (72,200/70,242  97.3%) University of Oregon #5 (11-1) 35 Kansas State University #7 (11-1) 17. Payout $17 million per team.

AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic, Cowboys Stadium Arlington Texas (80,000/expected sellout 85,000+ 106% or more) Texas A&M University #10 (10-2) 41 University of Oklahoma #12 (10-2) 13. Payout $3,625,000 per team.

There are 3 bowl games left before the end of the bowl season. The BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham Alabama which will pay the 6-6 University of Pittsburgh $900,000 and the 6-6  University of Mississippi $1,000,025 in a game which has never had more than 46,000 attendees in a stadium that seats 71,000. The GoDaddy.com Bowl in Birmingham Alabama which will pay the 9-3 Arkansas State University and the #25 ranked 11-2 Kent State University $750,000 each. Ladd Peebles Stadium seats 33,371 people and attendance has generally been in the 20,000-30,000 range.  The last game of the season is the BCS Championship Game which will be played at Sun Life Stadium between the University of #1 ranked University of Notre Dame and the #2 University of Alabama will play at Sun Life Stadium which with attendance being above the capacity of 78,383. The two teams will each be paid $18 million.

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That is enough for today. I actually started writing this on Thursday night and got far deeper into the subject than I thought possible. I do hope my numbers are accurate because my eyes did get blurry a few times and if there are any errors in the numbers you can attribute them to my lack of math skills and blurry eyesight.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Unhappy Valley: Penn State After Jerry Joe Grant and Gary

“Success without honor is an unseasoned dish; it will satisfy your hunger, but it won’t taste good.” Joe Paterno

It started over the weekend when roads were blocked leading to Beaver Stadium. Then workers put up a fence. Workers shrouded the statue of Joe Paterno and a forklift raised it from the ground and hauled it away. Workers then removed the likenesses of football players and the plaques on the wall behind where the statue stood. The symbolism was as heavy as the 7 foot tall bronze statue of Joe Pa was carried away in a sling.

It was somewhat reminiscent of the statues of dictators being removed after their death or overthrow.  It was like the smashing of idols.  The empty wall a symbol of the emptiness of success without honor. Honor that was lost when Paterno and other leaders of the University and the Athletic Department covered up the crimes of a serial pedophile and now convicted child abuser named Jerry Sandusky.

We knew that the penalties were coming. It was inevitable the day after the crimes came out and the NCAA talked about them. It was doubly so after the release damning evidence of the Freeh Report and the criminal conviction of Jerry Sandusky.

The penalties fell short of the so called NCAA “Death Penalty” but the results may be about the same. The School was fined 61 million dollars. All of its wins going back to the 1998 season were vacated. It had the number of scholarships that it could offer by 20 per year for 4 years and current scholarship holders are being offered the chance to transfer to another school without penalty. It has been banned from bowl appearances for four years and is on a five year NCAA probation in which more penalties can be imposed.

Penn State fans and supporters of Joe Pa are upset. In some ways I don’t blame them. Joe Pa was an icon in Happy Valley. His coaching abilities were legendary. He was hailed as one of the good guys who made sure that his football players completed their education. The success of the athletic program in particular the football program brought in big money to Happy Valley, it helped the University raise fund programs outside the athletic department. It was a great deal for everyone concerned…well maybe not.

The sad thing is that the student athletes most affected by the penalties had nothing to do with either the crimes of Jerry Sandusky or the cover-up that was engineered by the top officials of the University and Joe Paterno beginning in 1998 for sure, but maybe even before that. It was a 14 year cover up of criminal actions that enabled a serial pedophile to commit more crimes against children. The engineers of this cover-up with the exception of Joe Paterno will likely face criminal charges of their own and the University will most likely be hammered by multiple lawsuits by victims and their families.  The pain for university will go on and on because of the collective malfeasance of Penn State officials including Joe Paterno.

I am not an admirer of the NCAA. One can criticize the cash whores of the NCAA leadership that make obscene profits from the marketing and sales of NCAA College Football and I frequently do. One can criticize the NCAA for its hypocrisy for many things, however for once it probably did the right thing.

Had those that covered up the crimes simply been low level administrators this would have still been a terrible scandal. However, the fact that the most powerful men at the university knew about Sandusky’s crimes and did nothing makes makes the cover up of Sandusky’s crimes more heinous and despicable.  President Grant Spanier, Vice President Gary Schultz , Athletic Director Tom Curley and Joe Paterno all knew. They knew details. They all had the power to put an end to the crimes. Had they acted in 1998 or 2001 there would be no penalties. Joe Pa’s statue would still be up. The legend would not only remain untarnished but might have even been enhanced because they would have been on the side of law, morality and simple human decency. Instead they covered up the crimes and in doing so devastated the institution that they supposedly were attempting to protect. Edmund Burke said “When good men do nothingevil triumphs.”

Every day institutions are held liable for crimes committed by their employees, especially when they knew about them and did nothing to stop the perpetrators. For once a premier college football program has been has been held accountable. It is about time. I hope that the NCAA has the moral fortitude to be as severe to other programs should another administration decide to cover up felonies.

This is not pleasant. The action is a watershed event because it is the first time that the NCAA has ever assessed penalties in a scandal not related to recruiting or paying players. The NCAA has finally laid down the law on something that really matters. It will be interesting to see if any other institution elects to cover up the crimes committed by leaders in their athletic programs.

This will not make those that loved Joe Pa and his program feel good. It is a bitter pill to swallow and Happy Valley will never be the same. If I was a Penn State graduate or had a personal connection to that university I might feel just as they do.

What has transpired since November is something that this time last year no one could have ever contemplated at Penn State. Maybe we could think of it happening somewhere else but not there. Joe Pa would never allow it. So we thought and we were wrong. According to the Freeh Report he not only allowed it but played an active role in the cover up. Paterno’s family and some supporters continue to fight for his legacy. That is their right.  However when those involved in the cover-up go to trial and when the lawsuits are brought, the case for Joe Pa will not be any better. In fact it may be even worse than we know now.

Hopefully as bad as this is that it will make leaders of other large athletic programs around the country take notice. Hopefully it will prevent something like this from ever happening again.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Alabama wins the Boring Pseudo-National Championship Game…aka the BCS BS Championship Game

“LSU needs to find another way to fail because failing this way was not going to succeed.” ESPN Radio commentator at halftime (Photo Jeff Haynes Reuters) 

Yawn…. I just finished watching the Crimson Tide of Alabama kick the number one in the country yet seemingly offensively hapless LSU Tigers to death by a score of 21-0.  Yes these are great defensive teams but certainly offense has to count for something in a National Championship Game. I’m sorry but this is pathetic. It reminds me of watching NFL teams before the AFL merger. This is not exciting or even interesting football. It is not comparable to a baseball pitcher’s duel, it is just boring. It was the first shutout in BCS or national championship history.

But then what do we expect? These teams haven’t scored a touchdown against each others since November 2010.  Tonight it took over 55 minutes for either team to get in the end zone when Alabama scored with under 5 minutes left in the game against a worn out and demoralized LSU defense.

Now I couldn’t care less that Alabama didn’t win the SEC, Wild Card teams get to the Super Bowl and World Series but for goodness sakes football is not simply about defense. Yes defense is essential but the ability to actually score a touchdown should count for something.

Speaking of challenged the play by play commentators are definitely challenged because they cannot admit the the offensive units of both teams suck. I heard a commentator on ESPN radio at halftime say that the LSU offense needed “to find another way to fail because failing this way was not going to succeed.” What a load of crap. It took LSU over 50 minutes to push the ball across the 50 yard line and then after getting down to the Alabama 30 LSU lost 20 yards and and fumbled on 4th down on their side of the 50. LSU had just 92 yards offense and converted only 2 third down attempts.

There needs to be some kind of playoff system because this is an embarrassment. I’ll tell you what, you won’t see these quarterbacks in the NFL. Yes the Alabama QB A.J. McCarron is a sophomore but still this was not impressive.

Say what you want about the SEC being the best conference in college football, and it probably is but the real National Championship Game was played between Oklahoma State and Stanford. That was a football game, this was crap. Yes the defense was great and no doubt some of the defensive standouts will end up in the NFL but the NFL is driven by offense and most importantly quarterbacks.

The game showed that Alabama has a great defense but little else.  It also once again showed what a farce the BCS is. Figure out a way to have a real championship game after the big bowl games are over using them as a way to get to the championship.  You’d think that the current way of doing things was devised by a bi- partisan congressional committee and we know that there has to be a better way.

Watching the end of the game I would almost think that it would be fitting that someone would drop the BCS trophy and shatter it.

I hope that wasn’t too harsh.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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The Good the Bad and the Ugly: The Day in Sports

Well sports fans it has been a day hasn’t it?  Now most of my day has been spent in transit getting Judy and Molly down to North Carolina so I can go back to work and give Judy a chance to continue to recuperate. With the exception of listening to ESPN radio on the trip and catching the last few minutes of the Army Navy game when we got here I have been playing catch up on sports stories. Of course the Molly loved the ride down here and is passed out on our bean bag at the Island Hermitage as I get ready to call it a night. Of course Molly knows that the trip is all for her benefit and she has already had several long walks and is looking for the deer that populate the neighborhood.

This was an interesting day. There was a doping scandal, a bench clearing brawl, an unexpected winner, a buzzer beater, a major upper level ownership gaffe and a continuation of a decade of dominance and that was just at the Republican debate.  But I jest, the sports world was as scandalous as politics today as several stories broke to steal the limelight from the Presidential primary debaters in Iowa.

Ryan Braun NL MVP Busted? 

Topping the news from the baseball standpoint was the report that National League MVP Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers tested positive for a banned Performance Enhancing Drug (PED.)  This was a surprise and Braun has been denying the report and appealing the ruling.  If the test is upheld and his appeal denied Braun faces a 50 game suspension.  This is a blow to the Brewers who will most likely lose free agent First Baseman Prince Fielder and the loss of Braun will hurt.  Braun was not someone that I would have thought to have done PEDs but I guess anything is possible. He never in the minors or majors tested positive prior to this.  Baseball is no longer playing games with PED use and I expect that Braun will be suspended as no one else has ever won an appeal for PED use.  However it hurts the game because baseball has worked hard to clean up the mess created during the steroid era and has the most stringent policies in place of any professional sport.  Baseball is not going to mess around with this and because of the risk to reputations as careers goes the extra mile to ensure that if a test is positive that it is not a “false” positive.  From what I have read it appears that baseball and its testing agency are sure that this was an accurate test.  Too bad as the season was one of the most amazing in baseball history and this takes away some of the shine from all of the players and teams that made it great.

The Hansen Brothers and Dean Wormer enter NCAA Basketball

Meanwhile in Cincinnati Xavier and Cincinnati were playing in their yearly “cross town shootout” and with 9 seconds left in the game a bench clearing brawl better suited to a Charlestown Chiefs hockey game and the Hansen brothers.  Both University Presidents issued comments about the brawl reminiscent of Dean Wormer and his comments about Faber College’s Delta House. Methinks that some of these players will end up suspended as well.  Too bad they don’t have a penalty box. See the fight: http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/basketball/blog/the_dagger/post/Yancy-Gates-decks-Kenny-Frease-in-wild-Xavier-Ci;_ylt=AiT3clAGA6sDmaDIcDxL7cPevbYF?urn=ncaab-wp6817

Classless and Clueless David Stern tries even harder to Blow up the NBA

Not to be outdone in the “no class” category the Commissioner and Dictator of the NBA David Stern made a complete ass of himself and embarrassed a sport already reeling from the self inflicted wounds of the just ended player’s strike. Stern’s office voided a deal between the LA Lakers, New Orleans Hornets and Houston Rockets that would have sent Hornets star Chris Paul to the Lakers. The trade made sense for all the teams involved. In doing so Stern figuratively shot himself and the league in the balls to try to show that he was the boss. He has since back-peddled and the trade will probably be approved in a modified form. By doing this Stern showed his hubris and probably has ensured that the end of his reign as dictator will be only slightly less bloody than that waged by other dictators.  The sad thing is that people were starting to get interested in the NBA again.

Christian Watford and Indiana Shock Kentucky

But the bad news was balanced with good news, unless you are a fan of the Military Academy, University of Kentucky basketball or anyone not named Robert Griffin III at the Heisman Trophy presentation.  The unranked but undefeated Indiana Hoosiers knocked off the No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats when Christian Watford sank a last second 3 pointer to defeat the favored Wildcats by a score of 73-72.

Navy Dominates

In Washington DC the Midshipmen of the Naval Academy defeated the Cadets of the US Military Academy, the Black Knights of the Hudson for the 10th time in the last 10 years. It has been termed the Decade of Dominance.  Though I am an ardent Navy fan I do feel bad for the Army players who like the classes before them have went a full college career without having beaten the Midshipmen.

Robert Griffin III wins the Heisman Trophy 

And finally in a presentation of an award that any of the players nominated could have won Baylor Quarterback Robert Griffin III was awarded the Heisman Trophy.  While I was hoping that Stanford Quarterback Andrew Luck considered the top draft choice in the upcoming NFL Draft would win I think that Griffin was deserving. He s the first player from Baylor to win the Heisman.  Griffin completed 72 percent of his passes for 3,998 yards.  He had 36 touchdown passes and led the nation with an 192.3 efficiency rating.

It was an amazing day in sports and like life it was a day of the good and the bad and the ugly. But that’s life.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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The BCS (Bogus Championship Series) Sham, Tebow the Heretic wins Again, and Moolah over Miami…

It is amazing to see how the Bowl Championship series works. I think we should rename it the Bogus Championship Series.  I am old fashioned it just seems to me that we have an SEC West rematch as the national title game. Sorry, LSU won that Alabama should not be considered for the National Championship. Yes they are a solid team, one of the best in the country but it would have been far more “national championshippy” to have two teams out of the same division playing for the “national championship” if that is what it pretends to be. Even in sports that have “wild card” berths such as Major League Baseball and the NFL never can a wild card team play for the World Series or Super Bowl against a team from its own division. Same goes for the NHL and the NBA. The fact is that we should have LSU playing Oklahoma State for the Title or another team that actually won its Conference Championship.

The fact is that in most sports in fact all but the BCS there are times that an excellent team doesn’t get to play for the championship simply because someone in their conference, division or league had a better record.  If an entity wants to call its title a “national” title it should include two teams that represent different conferences.  What a sham, the real national title game will not be played just to replay the SEC West championship. When you look at the other BCS games it is clear that the BCS process has failed again. Since we are never going to get a playoff system in Division One NCAA College Football or a tournament like in NCAA Basketball we would be just as well off to go back to the old bowl system and let everyone argue about what team is number one.  We end up doing that now anyway most of the time so let’s end the BCS farce.  Actually you could probably have a real playoff system but there is far too much money in the current system for anyone, the NCAA, the Universities and the Bowl Game sponsors themselves to want to change it no matter how bad of system it is.

From real failures we go to the man that so many want to fail, Denver Broncos Quarterback Tim Tebow.  Now I am not a Tebow fan or promoter by far and certainly am not a Broncos fan unless they are playing the Cowboys or Steelers. However, despite the fact that he is not the kind of quarterback that has dominated the sport for decades.  Since the day he was drafted he has been treated with distain by most of the sports media and former players that serve as commentators.

Now I agree that Tebow doesn’t fit the template that the NFL uses now but he leads and inspires his team to win.  The way that he does it isn’t pretty and he will never be John Elway or Steve Young.  He is to use religious parlance a “heretic.” But who says that he needs to be? What if he is the kid that defies the rules wins games and inspires his team. Isn’t that what it is really about or is it about maintaining an illusion that there is only one way to lead teams and win games?  Tebow for all of his technical limitations finds ways to win and inspires his teammates.  He rapidly becoming a successful NFL heretic. I like heretics and despite it all I hope that he continues to win just to make “experts” look foolish shut his critics up.

Finally the Miami Marlins have spent more money on one player than they did for their entire payroll.  This is actually nothing new Jeff Loria buys a team, wins a world series and discards the team the next year.  However money talks and Loria has a lot to throw around. He signed closer Heath Bell for 27 million and Jose Reyes for a cool 102 million on a six year deal that includes no “no trade” clause.  It looks like they are also serious about spending big money on Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder and possibly Tiger starting pitcher Mark Buerhle. If they keep spending money like this and the Security Exchange Commission keeps investigating this could end up more like an episode of Miami Vice rather than last years CSI Miami season which ended with the Marlins dead on the slab.   Regardless the National League East will be radically different in 2012 with Ozzie Guillen at the helm and what looks like unlimited money to spend.  I can only say I wish the same would happen for the Orioles despite the fact that our uniforms are going to be way cooler than the Marlins new duds even if we lose over 90 games again.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Say it Ain’t so Joe… Joe Paterno Fired in Heinous Sexual Abuse Scandal involving Coach Jerry Sandusky

Joe Paterno (Getty Images)

“Success without honor is an unseasoned dish; it will satisfy your hunger, but it won’t taste good”

“I am absolutely devastated by the developments in this case, I grieve for the children and their families, and I pray for their comfort and relief….With the benefit of hindsight I wish I had done more.” Joe Paterno

I was genuinely shocked when I heard at the allegations that rocked State College Pennsylvania Sunday.  Long time Penn State Defensive Coordinator, Coach Jerry Sandusky was arrested on multiple child sexual abuse charges.  The arrest came years after the first accusations which date back to 1994 but were most egregiously displayed when a graduate assistant told Paterno of Sandusky raping a child in the shower.  The charges are heinous involving the forcible sodomy of at least nine young boys by Sandusky.  One of the victim’s mothers even reported the crime against her son to the local police in 1998 and the police heard on a tapped phone Sandusky tell the woman “I understand. I was wrong. I wish I could get forgiveness. I know I won’t get it from you. I wish I were dead.”

Paterno may have followed the letter of the law by telling the Athletic Director about the incident, but his failure to do more while not technically criminal made him complicit in the rape of more victims bySandusky.  However one has to wonder why not a soul acted to stopSanduskyin the act when they observed the rapes being committed or reported any of the incidents to the police.  I can’t figure out what any of them were thinking.

The inaction of McQueary, Paterno, Athletic Director Tim Curley and University Vice President Gary Schultz to take action when they had credible evidence of a friend and former colleague committing sexual assault against children in their own department’s showers.  This fact alone is shocking as no one went running to stop the act when they saw it or followed up after reporting it to their immediate superior.  No one took the initiative to immediately call the police, any police.   Instead knowing thatSanduskyconducted in such a manner they allowed themselves to be associated with him and his charity nine years until he was arrested.  Curley and Schultz have been charged in regard to their involvement in the cover up.

While they followed the letter of Pennsylvania’s ambiguous sexual assault reporting law they sacrificed their personal honor and everything that Coach Paterno and the institution had publicly espoused throughout his career.  They risked the lives of more children at the hands of a serial sexual abuser who had nearly unlimited access to children through his well thought of charity.  It was inexcusable and unconscionable dereliction of duty.

What happened to move a bureaucracy to protect a criminal rather than do anything to stop him?  What led a coach who had the motto “to serve the best interests of this university and the young men who have been entrusted to my care” to pass the buck and not follow up.  Hat happened to a coach who said “Success without honor is an unseasoned dish; it will satisfy your hunger, but it won’t taste good” to surrender his honor by not ensuring that the charges were fully investigated?

I sincerely cannot imagine the process of bureaucratic indifference that allowed a serial child rapist to remain a well respected public citizen.  I cannot imagine a leader as Joe Paterno to not act in real time to stop this from happening.  But he did.  For a few hours it seemed that despite this he would be allowed to remain as head coach by announcing that he would retire at the end of the season and then going off to run a practice as if football was all that mattered. It was as if he did not understand how serious this was.  But just a few minutes ago it was announced that the University Board of Trustees had fired the legendary coach along with University President Graham Spanier.  It had to be done. Paterno should have resigned immediately upon the announcement of the Grand Jury investigation.

But why did it take so long? The Grand Jury had this for three years and it didn’t come out until after he passed Grambling State University Coach Eddie Robinson with 409 wins.

Joe Paterno and those around him could have prevented this nearly a decade ago. But for whatever reason a man that many saw as an icon of integrity had that legacy destroyed in a nearly cataclysmic fashion.  Now there are students protesting the firing and police are gathering in riot gear. I think that says a lot about our values.  To some saving a football icon is more important than what the legend allowed to happen on his watch. It seems that to some football matters more than honor or morality.

Say it ain’t so Joe, say it ain’t so….

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Padre Steve’s Thoughts on the Proliferation of Bad College Football Bowl Games

Northwest Nowhere State Defeats Middle of Nowhere University 3-0 to Win the Kruger Industrial Smoothing Absolutely Meaningless Bowl in Overtime


Minot North Dakota (AP) The Northwest Nowhere State Thunder Pigs defeated the Middle of Nowhere Rabid Foxes in the first annual Kruger Industrial Smoothing Absolutely Meaningless Bowl by a score of 3-0 on a last minute overtime field goal in front of 4633 fans.  Despite the low attendance and low television ratings the NCAA and the Kruger Industrial Smoothing officials consider the Bowl a success. George Louis Costanza spokesman for Kruger said “5-7 versus 6-6, right in the middle of the Bell curve. The teams weren’t flashy but they were real.” When he was asked about the quality of the game itself Costanza replied “whatever, where’s the toilette?”  The game was forgettable marred by turnovers penalties and sloppy play.  The winning score came with 12 seconds left in overtime after Nowhere State Quarterback Demond Winnemaker collided with running back Jarod Nutzinski causing a fumble which was recovered by Northwest Nowhere State at the 12 yard line. The Thunder Pigs kicking team was sent in and kicker Johnny Leadfoot booted a ball that grazed the inside of the left upright to score the winning field goal.  Neither team had more than 150 offensive yards causing ESPN commentator Chris Berman to remark to Mike Golic “My God Mike I have never seen such a bad game, why the hell did ESPN get into this?” Nonetheless Thunder Pigs Head Coach Levi Bergman commented in his post-game interview “This win was a triumph for the school and the kids and great for the program. Hopefully we can do as well next year.” Middle of Nowhere Head Coach Joe Pistichinni simply commented “Whatever” when asked about how his team played.

 

Of course the little bit above is completely fictitious it is not too far removed from reality in today’s college football bowl season.   While I am not an avid football fan, my heart belonging to the one true religion of the Church of Baseball I do like a well played football game between quality teams, something way back when the College Bowl Season represented quite well, until well the money took precedence over the product.  College football is big business and major corporations of a wide variety of ilk’s line up to sponsor a bowl game.  There are 35 Bowl Games in 2010 which means that 70 teams will play in a bowl game this year. Now mind you there are only 120 Division schools and even my limited math skills tell me that 58% of Division I schools in the NCAA will play in a bowl game, I mean we are getting almost to the point of the NBA playoff system here where almost everyone gets a chance at the post-season.  It is not uncommon at all to see teams with a 6-6 record playing in a bowl and with the need to fill 70 slots there may be the day that a team with a losing record is invited to a bowl game; in fact the statistical probability of this happening in the next 5 years is quite high.

The NCAA doesn’t mind this because it is for all practical purposes a pimp that profits off of players that they don’t pay.  Not even going into the multi-millions of dollars that football generates for the member schools of the NCAA in ticket sales, television contracts, sponsorships and merchandise sales, which by the way include name rights to player’s jersey sales the bowl games are a cash cow for the NCAA. In fact this year a player was penalized and ruled ineligible because he sold one of his own game worn jerseys. Each of the BCS games pays out $18 million and even the paltriest of the bowl games net small schools a decent chunk of change on the average $1,141,225.58 excluding the 4 BCS games which are worth $72 million between them.

To be fair there are some “bottom feeder” bowls where the payout is under a half million, but on the whole it is a money making enterprise which feeds on the insatiable need of fans for more football regardless of the quality.  Frankly many bowl games are like fast foot, they fill you up but you will neither remember them nor care the next day, unless you are the school that makes money or a play hoping to get extra visibility in the NFL draft, which makes sense since they don’t get any money in college. Even the NCAA says that only 1.8% of college players will play in the NFL so in effect they are asking the players to throw themselves on a grenade for nothing.

Speaking of nothing, I won’t even go into the “scholarship” business because for the most part NCAA Division I Universities in the major conferences don’t give a damn whether the athlete learns anything or even graduates. The scholarship is a write off to make bigger money for the athletic program.  If a player is smart enough to take advantage of the scholarship knowing that he stands almost no chance of playing in the NLF then more power to him.  However the programs, agents and scouts with rare exceptions don’t care about what the players learn or even worse care about the injuries that these unpaid players will likely incur in their college football career that will impact them the rest of their lives.  The graduation rates for many of the top schools in division 1 football are abysmal with many below the average and only a few schools such as Stanford and Vanderbilt close to 90% both at 89%.  Auburn comes in at 63% while their title game opponent Oregon a dismal 49%.   Of course there are injuries with head injuries are a major issue at all levels of football as are knee injuries which can result in long term physical limitations and even in the case of the neurologic injuries death at an early age and early onset Alzheimer’s disease or forms of dementia.

But I digress….back to the bowl system and the proliferation of bowls that are nothing more than another way to milk the cash cow after the regular season and before the BCS bowls.

It wasn’t always that way.  In 1930 there was one, count it ONE, bowl, and that was the Rose Bowl. By 1935 there were 5, the Rose, Cotton, Orange, Sugar and Sun Bowls.  By 1950 the number of bowls had grown to eight and in 11 by 1970.  The number was up to 15 in 1980, 19 in 1990, 25 in 2000 and 35 now. Now obviously the majority of these games will not be high quality football, I mean who cares if two teams from pathetic conferences with barely winning records even play in a game unless they are the players working their ass of for nothing or the schools and sponsors that benefit from the bowl system?

This year is a case in point.  Even the most avid of college football fans and commentators are wondering what the point is in even watching many of these bowls. If you look at the 58% as a benchmark for which teams get into a post season bowl game and applied it to professional sports the NFL would have 18 playoff eligible teams and baseball 17.  Since the NFL stands to have a 7-9 team win a division can you imagine the quality of play if the NLF allowed that many teams in?

My argument is that the proliferation of bowl games is bad for college football in every way except the pocketbook. It is bad for the players that must sacrifice the Fall-Winter academics to play and risk injury with little payoff. It is bad for fans that are “treated” to game after game of less than quality football in games that due to the BCS system are all meaningless except for the National Championship game.   Of course I have to add to the players and athletic programs of the various schools they mean something but in real terms they matter little except to enhance revenue for the NCAA and the corporate sponsors.

Please know I’m not against business or even schools making money but this is just sad.

So there, that is my take on the farce that we call the college bowl system. A 16 team playoff should be developed for the best teams in the country regardless of which conference they come from. The rest of the teams can go to bowls if they want but the bowl system as we know it needs to be abolished and the NCAA should lose its stranglehold on college football. Is that harsh?

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

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