What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
If you study mythology, the first thing you need to do is understand what it really is. It isn’t about about a bunch of Roman or Greek gods and goddesses; rather it is the study of myth, which comes in many forms. Myth is simply folklore consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in a society. As such, myths are not necessarily by definition false, but because they are often borne of a need to explain the un-explainable, there’s a strong intertwining between myth and religion. In other words, fact matters less than belief, which is why questioning of myths can draw heavy fire.
I was a big fan of the show “Mythbusters” as mis-named as it was. They really took on “urban legends” more than true myths, but they at least put them to the test and rendered a verdict. Today, I’m going to six myths in the realm of college football to a similar examination.
Myth #1) NFL Coaches Can Coach College Football and Vice Versa
I will be the first to admit there are more than a few successful cross-over stories for coaches trading in the campus for the NFL; Jimmy Johnson and Pete Carroll come to mind. But for every one of those, there’s three Steve Spurriers, Chip Kellys, and (gasp) Nick Sabans. I know Saban could get elected God in Tuscaloosa, but every Dolphin fan on earth would say “you can fucking have him.”
It works the other way around as well. There hasn’t been a bigger disaster not called a tornado in Nebraska since Bill Callahan, Lovie Smith found a way to be a worse coach at Illinois than he was in Chicago, and George Allen’s death at Long Beach State started a myth all its own.
The difference between coaching in college and at the pro level is two-fold; power and recruiting. Ship captains and college coaches are some of the last true monarchies left on earth as is evidenced by the recent Urban Meyer situation. There have been university presidents fired by their boards of regents for less, but when you are the captain of a football ship which generates revenues north of $100 million, you’re not getting fired over a domestic violence matter in which you didn’t throw any punches. You get to that level of power because you consistently bring the top talent to your school. That’s a completely different skill set than what the NFL requires.
VERDICT: Plausible, but not advisable.
Myth #2) The College Football Play-Off Is An Actual Play-Off
Here’s the dirty little secret. This four-team thing was supposed to be a match-up of the winners of the four “big” conference championship games, but the Big 12 screwed everything up by not completing it’s collapse.
We here at Dubsism laid out the plan for a true play-off years ago. It’s a completely radical plan, and we get it’s probably never going to happen, but it’s the only solution we’ve seen which keep a system in which the “big” schools still get to sit around board room tables yelling “Gimmeh!” while flinging around those bank-robber bags of cash with the “$” on them, still gives the little guys a shot, and keeps the Chambers of Commerce in all those bowl-game towns happy.
Not only that, but the fact that come selection time, there will much discussion overs winners and losers in a subjectively-decided process says by definition this isn’t a true play-off.
3) Notre Dame Is Still A “Big-Time” Program
As far as “big-time football” on the field is concerned, the shadows of “Surrender Jesus” haven’t mattered in January in three decades. Don’t even try to tell me about that Championship game against Alabama a few years back. They were only there because they were over-rated from the start, and the seal-clubbing they took in that game proved that.
And therein lies the genesis of the questioning of this myth. In an annual tradition as solid as Michael Moore going up two pants sizes, this team is always over-rated. It’s not their fault the media gives them more credit than is due. If you doubt that, ask yourself a question. Name the last time Notre Dame started the season in the Top 25, then FINISHED there, and here’s the kicker…honestly deserved to be there both times.
Having said all that, here’s the part where I remind you about what I said about the connection between money and college football. Once you cobble all that together, the verdict on this myth should be fairly obvious by now. Big time college football is a cash-driven environment, and Our Lady of Money remains relevant because between the Catholic Church and it’s TV deal with NBC, South Bend sits on a river of cash.
Myth #4) The SEC is the Best Conference In College Football
I can already hear the crayons getting sharpened to write the hate-mail for this because SEC fans rank only slightly behind religious fundamentalists who fire-bomb synagogues and abortion clinics in terms of their zealotry. These people poison trees for fuck’s sake.
For the better part of the last decade, the SEC was the be-all-end-all for college football. Top to bottom, you could bet your bottom dollar a team from the SEC would be better than it’s counterpart in another conference; trust me, that was a central tenet in the J-Dub Gambling Challenge for a long time. Nine times out of ten, you could safely bet the best team in the SEC would beat the best team in (insert conference here), and like with the worst teams.
That is not the case anymore. Granted Alabama is still the best team in the country, and the Dubsism pre-season rankings have Georgia at #3. LSU still carries the banner for this conference, and the rest of the SEC West is for the most part still at least (with the notable exception of Arkansas), respectable but after that, where’s the luster?
Face it, with the exception of Georgia, the SEC East sucks on whole wheat toast. Remove the Bulldogs, and arguably Florida could win this division, and they could possibly only win two conference games. You can say the same for Missouri, South Carolina, take your pick…they’re all middlin’-to-shitty.
Here comes the heresy for the southerners. Top to bottom, the best conference in college football today is the B1G Ten. Yeah, I know Alabama is still the proverbial “elephant in the room,” but if you start stacking the two conferences together pitting #1 vs #1 and so forth on down the line, you’d pick a lot more B1G Ten team to win those matches.
And speaking of Alabama, the gulf between them and the best of the rest isn’t nearly a big as it used to be. If you doubt that, imagine a neutral-site game between Penn State or Ohio State and the Tide. You know the Tide would be at least a touchdown favorite, but where would your money be…and I mean real money. I’m holding a gun to your head and forcing you to bet your house payment on this game.
Who ya got <click>?
5) The NCAA Can Clean Up College Football
This on really doesn’t even warrant a discussion as a myth, except for one salient point. This is the point where one has to make the distinction between “big-time” and “small-school” football. This delineation is crucial as there really isn’t anything to clean up in the “small-school” world as there isn’t a tsunami of cash washing over everything. That’s a phenomena for the “big-time” programs. Not so coincidentally, that’s where the problem is.
In other words, the driving force behind the corruption is not the NCAA itself; it’s the money. The “small-school” world doesn’t have those problems because it doesn’t attract big-time money. More specifically, that means the NCAA has the ability to drain its own swamp; it just chooses not to do it.
VERDICT: Plausible, but not likely
Myth #6) The NCAA Cares About “The Student Athlete”
Take a good look at that picture. It’s almost the perfect metaphor for the NCAA. To understand it, you have to realize that at some point, the NCAA was well-intentioned. You have to understand that concept as much as I get how easy it is to look at the NCAA’s general fumble-fuckery in its handling of “big-time” football and basketball and see the phrase “The NCAA Cares About ‘The Student Athlete'” as completely laughable.
Here’s how you get past that. Go back to Myth #5 and remember the difference between what the NCAA is capable of doing and what it really wants to do. Then look again at the picture of the power-line pole in the middle of the road.
Back in the days of the Soviet Union, one of the things the Communists knew they had to do in order to make their economic and industrial plans viable was to bring modern technology to the countryside.
When electrification became a priority, propaganda posters with slogans such as “Let There Be Energy For The Village” became common. Power plants were built at the fastest rate possible, and transmission lines were strung across the Soviet steppes, the goal being to bring electricity to rural Russia as quickly as it could be done. Stripping off ideology and approach, there’s really no denying the goal was well-intentioned. That’s why that power-line pole is the perfect metaphor.
What electricity does for our every-day lives can’t be over-stated; you wouldn’t be reading this without it. That means the electricity carried by that line is literally a life-line for the people whose homes are powered by it. But at the same time, how many people have been killed by hitting that pole at highway speed? Life-lines don’t really work when they aid the destruction of what they are supposed to help, and in both the case of the NCAA and the USSR, that happened for one simple reason: execution trumps intention.
In the case of the Soviet Union, the approach of using cheaply-constructed and hastily-built power plants led to a big chunk of the Ukraine becoming a an irradiated, uninhabitable wasteland. In the case of the NCAA, a similarly mis-guided if not blatantly incompetent protection of the “integrity of the Student-Athlete” led to the aforementioned tsunami of cash creating its own “Chernobyl” effect on said integrity.
Again, just like in the previous myth, cash as the causation is obvious, especially when you compare and contrast how the NCAA handles the “non-revenue” sports and athletics at the “small” schools in general. The problem is just like in the USSR, the NCAA is the classic example of what happens when you let “good intentions” get co-opted by totalitarian bureaucrats. In other words, it isn’t that the NCAA doesn’t believe in the concept of “The Student Athlete” and maintaining the integrity therein.
It just cares about cash more.
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