As I write this, only 10 days remain between this very moment and the day that the 2011 college football season kicks off. I’m slowly reacquainting my brain with the football season version of itself, which is able to find games, and plenty of them, every day between Thursday and Monday from the beginning of September until Christmastime. But here’s the thing. There hasn’t been that much hype about the upcoming college football season, and my brain requires such hype to efficiently switch gears from its summer mode (during which it decides to wear shorts to work and drink too many gin and tonics). In terms of the NFL, there’s been plenty of talk orbiting around who got traded to where and which Raider fan punched which 49ers fan and why the Seahawks trying so hard to blow this season and that sort of stuff.
But when it comes to the college game, however, there isn’t the sort of rah-rah media pump-up I’d expect this late in the summer. Rather, all attention is on the scandals that have all but pushed any commentary about the game itself to the sidelines. And, of course, I’m talking mostly about the recent allegations that more than 70 University of Miami players and coaches took cash, booze, dinners, hookers, lodging and other absurdities from a booster named Nevin Shapiro, who just so happens to be serving time in a federal prison because his Ponzi scheme turned out to be a, well, Ponzi scheme.
I’ve voiced my opinions before about the NCAA making millions off of college athletes while at the same time expecting those students to live just above the poverty line. But if we want to cut to the chase and eradicate meddling boosters from college football, why not just make a simple rule precluding douche bags, sketchy dudes, anyone with slicked-back hair, gold necklaces or the name “Nevin” from donating to a program? Easy. Done. You’re welcome, NCAA.
Wasn’t there anyone at Miami who took one look at this guy or visited his prostitute-laden yacht or even Googled his name? Had they, they should have been able to discern that he wasn’t worth the risk? It’s all too familiar: the flashy guy with the flashy car and the flashy slicked-back hair (often accompanied by a young-ish woman sporting the feminine version of this hairstyle) shows up at the school he claims to have graduated from and starts dropping cash. Sure, these programs love when boosters shower them with money, which they might need to keep the program afloat, but it’s only a matter of time before this guy – always wearing a polo shirt bearing the school’s logo for good measure – starts getting too friendly with the players. Pretty soon, you’ve got players hanging in mansions and living like Burt Reynolds. And then what happens? This slickster ends up in jail for being a slickster in areas outside of sports and, with nothing really on the docket for the next 20 years, he decides to tell Yahoo! Sports everything he knows.
Then, you’re screwed. Miami could possibly get the so-called “death penalty” from the NCAA, which could mean that they’d be barred from competition for a couple years and lose scholarships. Essentially, they’d be royally effed for easily a decade and maybe longer.
But really, this could all be avoided. All athletic directors have to do is hold up a photo of one of the husbands from any of the Real Housewives casts and if a potential booster bears any resemblance to that photo, said potential booster would be restricted from donating. Also, if the guy looks normal but tries to solicit anyone into his “multilevel marketing” business, the door is also closed. It’s amazing how easy things can be if you just eradicate the douche bags from the equation.