The absurdity of erasing college football’s past

How low can the NCAA and BCS sink these days?

Today we learned that the BCS stripped USC of its 2004 national title, vacating the results of the 2005 Orange Bowl where USC crushed Oklahoma. The BCS also vacated the Trojans participation in the 2006 Rose Bowl that decided the national championship for the 2005 season. Remember that game? Vince Young turned in one of the greatest performances in college football history as Texas knocked off USC, 41-38. According to the NCAA and the BCS, that game never happened.

The NCAA has become a joke (the BCS has always been a joke). The entire college football system has been hijacked by big conferences and universities looking to cash in and keep all the money for themselves through the BCS farce, and then you have the NCAA enforcing a code of ethics developed for a society that looks more like 1950s America than the real world of today.

I’m an Ohio State fan, so I’ve never been a fan of USC, but it’s appalling to see this title stripped away. One idiot on the team was taking money, and suddenly the accomplishments of a great team are nullified by the fools running college athletics. USC may have failed to uncover the problem, but it’s not like assistant coaches were handing Reggie Bush thousands of dollars.

You might say that a severe penalty is in order, but why punish all the college kids who played on that team? Why punish the fans? Why stain the memory of a great season, and then a year later a great game where Vince Young and Texas beat a team many considered to be the best of all time until that night?

If you’re looking for a way to punish the crime, why not follow the money? That’s what college football is all about these days. Instead of forfeiting the game, why not have USC forfeit the millions of dollars paid to them by the BCS that year? The kids never saw a dime of that money, yet they’re the ones getting punished. If you want to prevent this behavior, penalties in the millions of dollars will get the attention of the USC athletic department and the University president.

As for the coaches, punish them as well! In the case of USC, perhaps there wasn’t enough evidence to ban Pete Carroll from coaching for several years, but if he or his assistants were directly implicated, then the NCAA could have suspended them and/or fined them. I understand that Pete Carroll left for the NFL, but he could have been prevented from attending any college football games and interacting with any college football program for a number of years.

In the Jim Tressel case, he should be punished going forward so that he can’t cash in at another university, and Ohio State should lose the money it received for the Sugar Bowl.

Money talks. The big schools have pointed to things like tradition and education as reasons we shouldn’t have a playoff system, and then they play musical chairs with conference memberships and add championship games all while throwing tradition out the window. Nothing matters more than the money . . .

College football needs a complete overhaul, from a playoff system to an examination of all the idiotic rules governing the conduct of “student athletes.” But it needs to start by going after the money, hitting schools where it hurts, and it needs to stop the absurdity of erasing the past every time some dumb kid gets caught accepting money, cars or tattoos from a booster or agent.

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