So, let's face up to a "grim" fact, folks. There is corruption that runs rampant in amateur sports! There are people getting paid money to compete at a particular university! They get sex thrown at them, bags of cash, cars and other goodies just so they can be on the football/basketball/baseball/whatever team.
The following is a brief letter to the media and to fans everywhere. Consider this an invitation to get real, people.
Dear Media/Sports Fans,
The world is not the beautiful place you'd like to think it is. People do dumb things. People do bad things. People offer money in lieu of doing things the way Person A wants. The fact that four Auburn players have come out, as of last night, on Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel and confessed to receiving cash for their time at Auburn University really puzzles me. Why? Did you miss the spotlight so you needed something to get you back into it? Anything involving scandal at Auburn is hot right now so why not air more dirty laundry?
Here's a newsflash people. This happens a lot of places. Ohio State? SURELY NOT?! You bet your ass it does. Florida? No..not that Gators. Sure it does! USC? Not my Trojans! God forb--Of course it does! Recruiting is a tough racket and to get those athletes that grease the wheels of these mammoth programs it requires extra incentive at times.
Do you expect an 18 year old kid who has had to struggle or endure a so-so middle class existence before that point to turn down a backpack full of greenbacks? Hell no. If I was in that position I'd probably take the money too. My scruples are not in question here, though, but those of the Auburn players digging up old bones. There are programs across the country that have had to deal with NCAA probes over recruiting practices. Some get punished, some come away unscathed. SMU, for example, had the hammer dropped on them after they decided to just say "Screw it!" and go all out to get the players they felt were necessary.
So, who do we, as enraged people of the sports public, turn our rage on? The coaches! YEAH! String 'em up by their thumbs and lets have ourselves an ol' fashioned body pinata party! I'll bring the little league aluminum bats! Whoa whoa, John Q. Public! Let's not get too wound up here and place all the blame on coaches. The job of head coach for these big programs at top tier universities involves way more than just X's and O's. Ther are alumni meetings, booster meetings, meetings with the board of regents, team meetings, fundraising functions, and about a hundred other functions and things a coach has to attend to. Their time, to say the least, is a bit stretched. That is not to say that there wouldn't be time in there to, say, hand a briefcase of tightly bound hundred dollar bills to a new recruit but the coaches aren't the only ones to blame here.
There are forces outside of that head coach office that are work here. Places like Auburn and Alabama, let's just say schools in the SEC for example, have alumni and interested parties who REALLY want their football team to win. They're willing to fork over the cash, find girls who are willing to, well, glorify these athletes and even go so far as to "gift" cars and even houses to the parents of potential recruits. Anyone who thinks that college football/basketball, especially, isn't big business has their head in the sand.
We, the public, were up in arms about all the supposed wheeling and dealing involved with agents and potential draft picks. There has to be a way to stop it! No. The wheels will continue to turn and that's just how it goes. Should we be so appalled at what's going on in the college realm? I guess we can, but the fact remains that it is a widespread problem that has gone on for the better part of 50 years now. Why stop any time soon?
So, why do we care so much about it? Perhaps it's because we do know this world is so dingy, so awful at times that maybe we hoped that college athletics was untouched somehow. I think we've all secretly hoped that the NCAA really did police and regulate college sports like it says it does. They don't though and, well, this corruption is in the system. It isn't going anywhere any time soon and, frankly, I don't care and neither should you. These former Auburn players shining a light on something we all know is there but don't really talk about, well, that's just some attention grabbing silliness that I, frankly, don't give a DAMN about.
There's a good possibility there will be no NFL season or at least a delay in it and baseball is starting today! Opening Day! Fantastic! I could care less whether some guys who were, let's face it, mere footnotes outside of their college careers are spilling their guts to Bryant Gumbel about taking money. It doesn't matter who gave who what and when they did it. All that matters is that they took the cash. Get off the air about it already and talk about things that are actually important.
The Wheelin'-Dealin', Kiss Stealin', Jet Flyin', Stylin' and Profilin' Son of a Plumber Who Loves Ya Mother a.k.a Jeff "Vanilla Thunder"Pannell