We all saw an Ohio State football team that was not prepared for the moment…of the Cotton Bowl highlighting what the petulant climate of what college football has become. And who out there really believes we’ve seen the last, or the worst of it?
I would have been totally prepared for the question from Press Pros personnel in Dallas, following Friday night’s Cotton Bowl debacle.
“I do have a round-trip ticket, don’t I?”
“I’m not stuck here with all these mad people, right?”
And no, we didn’t fly Southwest…where you’re never quite sure of your status!
And, I was prepared for the text I got at dawn’s crack on Saturday from staffer Danny Huff, who sent: “So, what are you going to write about the worst Ohio State public football moment since Woody Hayes slugged Charlie Bauman?”
And, in case the rest of you’re wondering, too, here’s what we all saw, like it or not. How, under the current sports culture of the tail wagging the dog, what Woody did and how it was handled at least gave us some satisfaction and a sense of resolution going forward.
And can we say the same now?
What we saw was an Ohio State football staff that was not prepared for the moment, or eventuality, of playing without its starting quarterback and its best wide receiver…due to the worst case scenario of NIL and the portal. Truth be told…bowl game locker rooms everywhere divided over issues of money, self-preservation prior to the NFL draft, and selfishness.
And dare I just say it, that no one gives a damn about getting a college education – not anymore – if you’re there on a football scholarship? Can anyone disagree with that?
A college education from Ohio State University, or Michigan, or Florida State (where eight players skipped the Orange Bowl for the above reasons of self-preservation and selfishness), doesn’t mean squat if you’re recruited to play football.
To hell with engineering, I’m projected to go no worse than the second round. Doesn’t matter if I blow out a knee on the first day of training camp. I got a contract and that should keep me until I’m, oh, say, in my 60s.
I don’t need a degree in marketing. My entourage of clingers-on are going to get me marketed if I get hurt and can’t play football, anymore. They know the right people. Trouble is, they never discover that the ‘homies’ are there to take, not give, especially when you’re in your 60s.
Obviously, we don’t know the behind the scenes of what happened between Ryan Day and Kyle McCord. Rumors swirl, as rumors do.
Was it NIL?
Was it really a guarantee about his starting position in 2024?
Joel Klatt says he doesn’t even know.
And if the parties couldn’t agree on discussions coming after the bowl game, and not before it, how is that on Ryan Day?
It seems simple enough. All discussions about NIL money, or entering the portal, are to come after the official end of the college football season, and not before it. You would think the NCAA could think that out for itself (not that that’s any guarantee).
Just as obvious, you can’t foresee an injury to Devin Brown and him not getting through the first quarter.
And no one expected Lincoln Kienholz to have to play. Because how many teams in college football actually have a backup for the backup…for the backup’s backup?
So this ultimately goes back to the question of who believes that what college sports has become – and we’re talking NIL and the portal – is really a good thing for college sports? Who decided this, and where is that guy now?
Of course, it was the Supreme Court…that blew right past what works for college sports to focus on what works for the college student-athlete. Colleges have been raking in money for years and the athlete hasn’t gotten a share, right?
No, dammit. They got an education. A good one, and it was free!
How many Buckeye fans really feel confident about how they’re going to come back after this Cotton Bowl meltdown…that the locker room is going to be unified, and confident in the coaching staff?
Is there anyone who doesn’t believe that the first thing that goes wrong in 2024 will cause the next exodus of who knows how many? And for what?
Is this not the tail wagging the dog?
Are there any business people out there who can confidently say that they’re selling more cars, or furniture, or life insurance because they wrote a check for millions to ensure getting more ‘five-stars’ than Michigan?
More tail wagging!
And another question. How long are they going to keep writing those checks? Is there really a bottomless pit for that kind of money?
I don’t think so, but again, let’s go back to the human genesis of this issue. How many players in those college locker rooms really feel supportive about teammates saying, “No thanks, guys, this one’s for me. My agent tells me it’s good business if I don’t play.”
And who didn’t see this coming?
Worse, how do you resolve it, knowing that there’s more appetite for NIL than food to feed it?
Or, is there anyone out there who questions whether that individual who’s at school to find a cure for cancer is worth more, to more people, than a quarterback?
I don’t know. Call me old, but suddenly education looks like a pretty good option, except to the judges and politicians, knowing that about 5% of all athletes make enough money in sports to actually live on it in perpetuity, and pay for the hangers-on.
If you’re not drafted in the top two rounds chances are you’re going to go have to work for a long, long time. Every college knows that. And if you can find someone honest enough to tell you…they’ll say what Woody said. Get your education.
Even at Syracuse.