Thursday, December 13, 2007

Lying Liars

If you pay attention to the NFL, no doubt you've heard of the resignation of Bobby Petrino. If you haven't, allow me to explain: the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons resigned after 13 games to take a job at Arkansas University. Or University of Arkansas. Whoever has the "razorbacks." I can't keep these names straight and I don't much care to. Anywho, Mr. Petrino declined to tell his players or much of his staff that he was quitting until about the day of. I'm fairly certain that many of his former players learned about the development the same way the rest of us did, from ESPN.

Thus, Bobby Petrino continues a long running glorious tradition of college coaches, who jump to the NFL, being huge assholes. Like we're talking some of the biggest assholes and lying-est liars out there. From what I've read, on Monday Petrino shook Falcons owner Arthur Blank's hand, said "You've got a head coach" and then quit on Tuesday. Now that is despicable. But, lets remember, that while Nick Saban did the exact same thing last year he at least had the good graces to wait out the season. If you read any of the news about "Petrino-Gate" then you will see what a total douche bag this man is.

But (and you should have seen this coming) this brings us to a larger point: the college system for football is totally messed up. You've got the annual coaching carousel where coaches out and out lie about everything, there's an insane amount of skullduggery (bet you didn't think you'd ever see that word), and a Bowl system that is the most ridiculous thing on earth. In the past couple of years I've gotten really into the NFL. But college football remains completely impenetrable to me.

First off, you've got the coaching problems. That teams are routinely trying to steal the head coach of other teams. This seems to lack dignity and honor to me. If I'm a fan, how am I supposed to trust the head coach my team just hired if he just abandoned his previous team. He's a traitor and he's full of betrayal. Just because a traitor stabbed someone in the back for you doesn't mean he won't then turn around and stab you in the back. Look at Benedict Arnold. He died in disgrace over in Britain (Chris, fact check that for me). Why? Because he was a traitor.

Second, the players. Everyone who likes college football more than professional football says that they don't like the NFL because all the players are just playing for money. Some of them are, thats true. But look at it this way. If you're an amazing NFL player, you've got enough money where you'll never have to work again. What's your incentive for still playing hard? Why do people like Peyton Manning and Tom Brady and LaDanian Tomlinson and Mario Williams all play so hard when they've got more money than they'll ever need? And also, whats wrong with that? At least in professional football, the football players are just that: football players. We've all deluded ourselves into thinking that college football players are students first and football players second. And for many of them thats true. But lets face it, college football players are playing for one of two things (or two of two things): to keep their scholarship, and to make it to the NFL. Plus, once a player reaches elligibility, he can abandon your team to jump to the NFL. Sure, free agency means that players can sign elsewhere if they want, so I'm willing to say that argument might be a wash.

Also in terms of players, and it may be too early to tell, but there's little accountability these days in college football. The NFL has been embarrassingly short on accountability in years past, but so far Roger Goodell, the commisioner, appears to be a hangin' judge. And I like that. You're a professional football player. Key word is "professional." Time to act like it.

Third, the bowl system. Any time I feel like I need a degree in theoretical mathematics in order to follow the progress of my team, I feel like something's wrong. Now, keep in mind, this only applies to Division IA football. Division IAA actually seems like it would be much more appealing to me because it's system appears to be more about crowning the best team, rather than making a crap ton of money. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind capitalism. I think its a great thing. After all, it works. Communism is a bunch of crap. Socialism I've got nothing against. But lets remember that in sports you need to know where you stand, otherwise, whats the point? Oh sure, the NCAA tries to say that the best teams go to the National Championship and that the bowl system determines who is better than who. But thats a crock and we all know it. The bowl system only exists to make the NCAA an obscene amount of money. Again, I have no problem with that, but be honest about it.

And thus we come full circle to why I can't abide college sports, or apparently the coaches who come out of it: its a charade. An illusion. A self-imposed lie that we all choose to either buy into or not. From the motivation of the coaches, to the player/students (note the order there), to the institutions themselves. I don't mind the underlying motivations that drive everything at the NCAA level (money) but I wish they could be honest about it. Sure, part of any sport is subterfuge and lying so that the other team doesn't get some esoteric advantage over you. But at least the NFL is honest about why it exists: to make money. Everybody is more or less honest about their motivations. So seriously, stop lying. Nobody believes you anyway.

But it is fun to watch the Falcons fail.


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