Thursday, November 12, 2009

#464. No Off-Field Issues in College Football

(SBPDL note - this entry will be expanded upon indefinitely.)

Let's be frank for a moment. College football is a spectacular sport, absolutely fantastic. Going back to watch your alma mater compete and seeing the sights and sounds of your old stomping grounds rekindles memories long since dormant of rush parties, girls you used to know and should instill at least of modicum of pride in your school.

For those incapable of feeling a surge of energy from 80,000+ people singing the fight song of your alma mater in unison and cheering on the exploits of the players on the field as if their very lives depended upon the outcome of the game, well you might need to visit a doctor to ascertain if you are still human.

Some college football cathedrals seat more over 100,000 people and average attendance for some conferences is a jaw-dropping 75,000 for the 13 football Saturday’s in the fall:
“In 2005, a total of 5,593,699 fans attended 75 games hosted at SEC institutions, an average of 74,583 fans per game, which is also best in the nation. SEC stadiums were filled to 97.43 percent of capacity for each home game in 2005, which was also best in the nation. The SEC has led the nation in percentage of capacity since the statistic was first kept in 1983."

More importantly, college football is a big time business as many school’s entire sports budget for a fiscal year can be paid by one football fall Saturday:
“It makes sense that a national champion like last year's University of Texas Longhorns grossed over $60 million in 2005, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s Equity in Athletics filings. (The 2006 season doesn't really end until the last bowl game next month.) But it can also be incredibly lucrative to lose, so long as a team has the right conference affiliation.

Among the on-field dregs of 2005 was 2-9 Washington, a member of the Pac-10 conference. The school's listed revenue was $31.7 million. Big 10 cellar dweller Illinois parlayed a 2-9 performance in 2005 into $19 million, just below the $19.8 million that 3-8 Kentucky claimed for 2005’s last-place finish in the Southeast Conference (SEC).

So, the college athletes playing in these games are hugely important employees to the overall branding of the team and positioning of the program as a major commodity to future recruits who will act as stewards to that programs continued success.

However, with 50 percent of college football competitors being Black people, it is important to point out a trend that can be easily discerned at virtually every school - even the Naval Academy isn't immune from this epidemic - for Black people find themselves incapable of keeping their names out of the press for their on-field talent, but also for their off-field behavior:

"Three University of Tennessee football players and a female companion are in the Knox County Detention Facility this morning on charges of attempted armed robbery.

Janzen Jackson, Mike Edwards and Nu’Keese Richardson, all 18, were charged this morning after an armed robbery attempt at a Pilot station on Cumberland Avenue, according to the Knoxville Police Department.

Each player and the woman face three counts of attempted armed robbery. The woman also faces drug charges.

UT athletic director Mike Hamilton released a statement this morning about the episode.

“At this time we are currently evaluating the circumstances surrounding an incident involving Mike Edwards, Janzen Jackson and Nu’Keese Richardson,” Hamilton said. “Any decisions or comments regarding their status will not be made until the evaluations are complete.”

An isolated example you might ask? No, this is the true Knoxville Horror to those who follow University of Tennessee football, for any news event that shines a negative light upon their beloved Volunteer program is more important to dispel than any murder that might have happened in that city (here's a 2005 USA Today story about Tennessee Football):

"On the back of the card are the home and cell phone numbers of the Tennessee coaching staff so players can call for help.

The Think Card is part of a safety net of counselors, tutors and role models the university has been constructing since 1995 after eight football players had run-ins with the law in a one-year span.

But during the last 16 months, players frequently have fallen through. Tennessee football players have been in at least 20 incidents involving shoplifting, assault, gun charges, motor vehicle citations, disturbing the peace and failing a drug test."

Tennessee isn't getting a great return on investment for its initial monetary decisions, as the recruiting of these off-field news makers isn't what they were brought to Knoxville to do:
"The University of Tennessee is the runaway spending leader, according to the findings of a Press-Register investigation into recruiting costs for major sports programs among the SEC's 11 public institutions. Expenditure totals from 2006-08 found that the Vols spent an average of $1.15 million annually on football recruiting."

$1.15 million annually is spent by the University of Tennessee to import college football players who by and large are making more headlines off the field than on it lately. Great financial move by the university and a great way to build these players resumes, er rap sheets.

Alas, off-field issues affect every major college football program and lead to major attrition for programs who invest large sums of money into recruitment, only to see players taken away in the back of a police van and equipped with an ankle bracelet instead of cleats (of course, BYU only loses players to mission trips for two-years).

Penn State seems to have imported the same problem that Tennessee yearly brings to Knoxville in February (national signing day for new recruits):

"Off-field issues have managed to do to Joe Paterno what four decades as Penn State’s head coach never really could: tire him out.

“I have to fight sometimes to get out of bed,” Paterno said Monday night. “It’s been a long year. But in a lot of ways, it’s been a good year.”

It goes with the territory now: to win in college football, you must have Black players on your team, and with Black players on your team comes the unfortunate trend of having a criminal element in the mix where it might not have existed otherwise. Take the University of Georgia and the University of Alabama for example:

"Georgia had eight players arrested last offseason, which resulted in six players being either suspended or dismissed.

Some saw a connection between the lack of discipline on the field with Georgia's play on it - the Bulldogs were among the most penalized teams in the nation.

Richt admitted off-field problems created a negative perception about the team. He called it a "distraction," on the eve of last season."

and the BAMA story:

"Remember when "The U" was especially noted for having an abnormal amount of so-called "thugs" on their football team?

Those days aren't too far out of recent memory, but long enough ago that the Canes have forgotten most of their troubles.

Maybe they don't remember them because Nick Saban, former coach of the Dolphins, brought the mystique of players being arrested in Miami to the University of Alabama. The Crimson Tide has become the Cincinnati Bengals of the NCAA as of late.

With eight players arrested since Saban's arrival in T-town, the Tide need to worry about what the kids are doing off the gridiron, as opposed to how they perform on it."

"Alabama linebacker Jimmy Johns was arrested on felony drug charges Tuesday and kicked off the team, the latest in a string of off-the-field problems for coach Nick Saban's squad.

Johns, who moved to defense for his senior year after playing running back and receiver in 2007, was "pretty wide open" selling cocaine to students on and around the University of Alabama campus but tried to hide what he was doing from teammates, police said.

"He didn't want them to know he was involved in it," said Capt. Jeff Snyder of the West Alabama Narcotics Task Force."

A curious search on Google of off-field problems in college football brings back nearly 1 million hits, with every school from the University of Texas to Oregon State represented.

What is the problem? Is their something in the water in all these beautiful college towns that negatively effects only Black people?

Or does Stuff Black People Don't Like include no off-field issues in college football, for the hope of emulating Chad Ochocinco's media savvy can only be attained by entering the police blotter for some Black players?

Check here to see which school's have won the Fulmer Cup, given each year to the university with the most off-field problems.

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