By Daniel I. Dorfman–
CHICAGO (WSCR) These past few years on fall Saturday afternoons, I’ve found myself watching Ohio State football knowing the athletes in Columbus, Ohio represented the best college had to offer. I knew they were there to pursue academics and used athletics as a mere backdrop of their life objectives. I knew a program that had produced fine upstanding human beings like Art Schlichter and Maurice Clarett would pass along that heritage to Terrelle Pryor. Oh wait.
If the time of year was right, I might turn on an SEC game hoping to catch some Tennessee Volunteer hoop action. I knew the program was clean as a whistle and there was no way and infractions would be made under Bruce Pearl. Oh wait.
Then during the week when I would have the time I would sit and think back to the USC teams that dominated college football in the middle of the last decade. I knew players like Reggie Bush would make the academic world proud and never thought of the NFL until the absolute end of their college careers. Oh wait.
This has certainly been an interesting week in college athletics. Yesterday Pryor announced that he is leaving Ohio State just days after head coach Jim Tressel resigned as a result of this latest scandal. Earlier this week, the Bowl Championship Series stripped USC of their 2004 national championship in the wake of the Reggie Bush-related shenanigans. Finally, Tennessee Athletic Director Mike Hamilton is leaving Knoxville just days ahead of that program appearing in front of the NCAA Committee on Infractions.
If what occurred at these three major programs were a new phenomena, it would really be attention getting. But there has been cheating going on for generations. Sometimes programs get caught, sometimes there are rules that are bent but not broken, and I’m sure there that for everything we do hear about, there are many other violations that aren’t caught.
It would be nice to wag a collective finger at those who have shamed the sport, but no finger can be wagged for that long and at the end of the day, we would have to wag it at ourselves as well.
Along the same lines, we all enjoyed the home runs of the late 90s and early 2000s in what is now known as the steroid era, we have been doing the same with college sports ever since football and basketball became the licenses to print money. There are too many informed fans who look at college sports and know there is a sleaziness to it. But with the billions of dollars spent on rights fees and the creation of conference-centered networks, as well as filled stadiums, that sleaziness is tolerated by us.
When an Ohio State or USC scandal breaks, there is attention paid to it. There are the usual calls for paying athletes and much blather about what to do to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen again. Then everything settles down until the next embarrassing scandal to wound a once proud program. Then we go back to watching games, either in person or on TV, and buying merchandise of our favorite schools. A depressing cycle, but one nonetheless.
This isn’t a plea to get people away from watching college sports. It wouldn’t be realistic to advocate such a thing. But the next time a stone is cast on the problems facing college sports, we should all be sure to look at the origins of the problem. That would happen to be your mirror.
Do you agree with Daniel? Post your comments below.
Daniel I. Dorfman is a local freelance writer who has written and reported for the New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer and the Boston Globe among many other nationally prominent broadcast, online and print media organizations. He is also a researcher for 670 The Score. You can follow him on Twitter @DanDorfman To read more of Daniel’s blogs click here.