The Beast : Playing with benefits; not a “small” problem

It took me about ten seconds before I started laughing as I read the Ohio State student newspaper’s account of another “student-athletes” misguided actions. Small then said his words were misconstrued, but I think this audio proves otherwise.

For those who missed it, former Buckeyes wide receiver Ray Small talked about selling Big Ten rings, deals car dealerships and shared his thoughts about NCAA rules, which he said some players “don’t even think about.” I laughed again, before realizing this really isn’t a laughing matter.

Ohio State is topping the headlines right now, with all eyes on Columbus and The Sweatervested One, but rivals shouldn’t be quick to point fingers. In all reality, this is probably just the beginning of what is sure to be an avalanche of wrongdoings. Southern Cal, North Carolina, Auburn and now Ohio State. How long before a half dozen other schools are under investigation?

This isn’t a problem where a few guys didn’t know the rules while some coaches or staffers looked the other way. This is an issue of everybody wanting to be along for the ride when a team makes a run. Everyone wants to be part of something and college athletics has turned into a way for men over forth to feel like they’re back on campus themselves, tearing it up and rushing a fraternity.

This time around there are no elephants walks are paddles to the backside; there are secret handshakes though – filled with hundred dollar bills. These guys wants access, want to be on the inside and want to feel like they’re part of the team. These are guys jockeying to become “friends of the program”.

Some places flat out ignore the rules or at minimum, push them aside a bit. Certainly OSU is guilty of this and the people responsible – including Jim Tressel – should be gone.

Truth be told, in most cases there’s nothing a compliance department can do when a kid and adult both decide to do the wrong thing. The 20-year old student athlete who’s struggled financially his whole live versus the 50-year old who knows better and puts his beloved program in jeopardy to feel good about himself – one you can forgive, the other you can’t – but in this case, another example where the “givers” get off scot-free while the “takers” are punished to set an example. Not exactly fair.

As Miami fans, many of us want to believe that our days of dealing with this stuff is over. The Luther Campbell era and handing out cash for sacks is in the rearview, but no one is impervious to this current trend. Not even ‘The U’. Just Google the name Nevin Shapiro and you’ll want to close your laptop pretty quickly.

There hasn’t been a college campus I’ve been on where I didn’t see football players driving cars that didn’t cost more than a year’s tuition. I remember walking by the University Center my first year at UM and seeing a very prominent football player rolling up in a $75K Mercedes. A safe bet he didn’t buy that car with the pocket money he made working part time in the off-season.

I wish someone knew how to solve this problem. Some gray-haired clown wants us to believe that if we give the student athletes a few bucks to take his girlfriend to dinner and a movie that all this will stop. It won’t.

This has nothing to do with the injustice of players being worth more than the scholarships they get and nothing to do with the NCAA coming up with a way to compensate players. (That’s another issue.) This is about adults and grown men wanting to be part of a kids’ team. This is about too many student athletes putting themselves before team and embracing the selfish “everyone else is doing it” mentality, even if there is some truth to that notion.

Maybe it’s not a free car or handfuls of cash, but one way or another there are college athletes nationwide who are receiving benefits for being part of a team and if the NCAA wanted to increase their investigation force, Ohio State could be pushed off the front page by a new university every week.

It’s like the supposed drug problem in this country. You can keep throwing people in jail, but it does nothing to curb usage. The high is too alluring. Some do drugs to get high and others get their fix handing a star wide receiver the keys to a brand new Camaro. It’s the same rush and it’s not going to change anytime soon. All we can hope is that Miami stays off the front page for all the wrong reasons.

IN OTHER NEWS : On a sad note we learned that former Michigan quarterback Tate Forcier seems to be a very troubled kid.

If the inferences are true and Forcier was contemplating jumping from that window, you step back and wonder what issue in his life pushed him to that point.

If you know anything about Forcier’s story, you heard that he was working with Marv Marinovich when he was in third grade; the same man who destroyed the psyche of his son, Todd, by pushing the young quarterback too hard.

Tate is another athlete who wasn’t allowed to have a childhood – and we’ve heard countless stories about what that’s done to kids over the years. Just look at some of the stuff on the Forcier family website and you’ll realize that something isn’t right with that situation.

I’m not surprised Tate had grade issues at Michigan, which may have impacted his not coming to Miami. It’s hard to keep your grades up when dealing with so many other demons both on and off the field.

Thank God the kid is physically all right and let’s hope that the family’s top goal is getting his head right – not just an intense focus on where he’ll transfer and the next time he’ll be under center.

Lastly, the Canes baseball team won’t be playing at home for the NCAA Regionals. Sites will be announced Monday afternoon and I’ll have a breakdown of UM’s road to Omaha on Monday night. Until then. Go Canes.



4 thoughts on “The Beast : Playing with benefits; not a “small” problem

  1. Great post on the state of modern college football. It's sad, but not unexpected. The universities, the networks, the conferences and the NCAA are making billions off the play of 18-20 year-olds. It's an immensely popular sport, where alumni and fans take winning VERY seriously. The players are not saints either. While most work hard and are just happy to have the opportunity for a free education at a premier institution, many talented players are coming out of high school with a sense of entitlement and arrogance.

    A number of states have started stepping in where the NCAA and the conferences will not, enacting tougher laws against agents and program violations. California and Texas recently enacted some new legislation, and I think you'll start to see Florida and other states take steps to clamp down on some of these issues. Movement in that direction will not end the practice, but it will reduce it somewhat.

  2. BEAST!!!!
    Congrats on a well written article and your ability as a fortune teller! (and your recent bday also).

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