Some Thoughts on our National Religion

Posted: 20 December 2010 in Everything Else...
Tags: , ,
FYI: If you are not a believer in college football (and its “heavenly father” pro-football) you may want to skip this one. 

Auburn Wins National Title over Oregon*


This: * is an asterisk (see title).  It is with an * that I begin my prediction about this BCS season and most notably the title game.  My “bold” prediction:


In 2, 3 or 5 years if you turn to the section on BCS Championship games in the College Football Encyclopedia you will find an * next to the score with a note at the bottom saying that Auburn, while having won the game, was subsequently stripped of the title due to evidence of player misconduct in a “pay to play” scheme.  Turn over a few pages to the Heisman Trophy winners’ section in the same encyclopedia and you will find another * next to the 2010 winner, Cam Newton.  Another footnote will inform you that he was forced to relinquish the trophy due to misconduct in said pay to play scheme.  This will be the second such relinquishment in 6 years (Reggie Bush being the first in 2005).


There you have it: Auburn wins. And in the next year or so the “truth” comes out.  Football fans will sigh.  The NCAA will wring its collective hands.  Cam Newton—having signed a gazillion dollar contract after the 2010 season—will express regret (but flash his well known smile as he leaves the press conference 10 minutes later).  His dad will claim he was a victim of the rapacious advances of sports agent even as he puts the finishing touches on his new multi-million dollar church building.  And… the players on the current Auburn team will wonder why they are being punished for things they honestly knew nothing about.


Things could have been different. The NCAA had its chance.  It chose “brand” integrity over, well… integrity, when it declared: “Based on the information available to the reinstatement staff at this time, we do not have sufficient evidence that Cam Newton or anyone from Auburn was aware of this activity, which led to his reinstatement.”  More on the “brand integrity” in a moment. But let’s get this straight.  Do they really believe that Cam Newton was not “aware” of what his dad was doing? I guess I just must agree.  I also believe firmly that Floyd always rode clean, that Ben was framed in those (multiple) forced sex cases, that Gaylord did not even know what Vaseline was (look it up all you youngsters), that Diego’s goal really WAS scored by God Almighty himself… Please, we are talking about adults here.  Cam was not some child asked to leave the kitchen while daddy talked to the big, bad agent.


(Oh and note to “Reverend” Newton: Did you miss the memo?  You know, the one from the Big Guy (delivered via his son) about camels, eyes of needles, riches and heaven and all that stuff?  I suggest you look it up (Gospel of St Matthew, Chapter 19).  Ah, but I am being uncharitable to my Brother Newton.  Okay Rev, I forgive you… Unconditionally.  Seriously.  Now, would you please go on national TV as soon as possible and confess your sin in this thing?  Good for the soul and you will save everyone a lot of pain later.)


You and I know what the NCAA is doing here.  Just doing business.  ESPN is carrying the game and they, and the NCAA, simply cannot resist the potential draw of an amazingly gifted, handsome athlete for their “championship” game. Now its true that Ad Week says that ESPN garners relatively little of its overall revenue from TV advertisements of the BCS Championship game (most are generated by fees it chargers to carriers of its feed).  But, getting the right kind of match-ups (and the viewership they provide) is important in future negotiations (see the whole revenue story here:  Arguably it is more important for the NCAA itself to guarantee a “marquee” match-up.  After all it is the NCAA brand being sold to ESPN and the networks and the NCAA’s refusal to go with a championship format in the FBS means it needs to “manage” outcomes to get the highest profile teams and players into the “big game”.


So in two (or three or five) years when the NCAA sadly acknowledges that new evidence suggests that Auburn must be placed on probation and/or stripped of its title, it will have little (really) to worry about.  The revenue from 2010 will already be in the bank.  The NCAA’s “product” will survive and will flourish—no doubt at all.  After all, by then the next great phenom will have been created, pimped and sent forth to conquer our hearts.  And have no doubt, our hearts will be conquered.


But in these pre-* times Auburn will win by 3 touchdowns (49-28).  Cam will account for 5 of these directly: two on the ground three through the air.  Oregon will commit 3 turnovers and mostly get pushed around.  Don’t get me wrong here—I want Oregon to win.  I love their style and I love the fact that lots of small guys can fly around the field so fast that the bigger guys can’t catch them.  I like their coach (for now). Their uniforms do baffle me.  I mean what’s with the off-white names on white jerseys?  Give me something I can read or just go “cold-Paterno” please.  Anyway, I digress.  Oregon is too small. Auburn defense is too athletic (they suck at technique but they are big and fast).


BTW, you may be wondering, given my cynicism about this situation, whether I am actually going to watch the game.  After all, doesn’t that make me complicit in this whole thing and kind of a hypocrite?  Maybe.  But for me there are well over 100 other players involved in this game the vast majority (all?) of whom play by the rules.  I played team sport at the college level (small college, long time ago) but I can tell you that team sports really do have lessons that play out in broader life issues.  These guys love each other and, whether some people want to acknowledge it or not, they have given up some things because of their commitment to the team. They deserve our support and, dare I say it, our admiration.


Other BCS predictions (no *es here)
The Rose Bowl, No. 3 TCU (12-0) vs. No. 4 Wisconsin (11-1):  Wisconsin 42-10
The Fiesta Bowl, No. 25 Connecticut (8-4) vs. No. 9 Oklahoma (11-2):  Oklahoma 24-3
The Orange Bowl, No. 5 Stanford (11-1) vs. No. 12 Virginia Tech (11-2): Stanford 28-24
The Sugar Bowl, No. 6 Ohio State (11-1) vs. No. 8 Arkansas (10-2): Ohio State 24-21




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