A Sea Change in College Football; NC State Baseball Sent Packing; Nifty Fifty
As the old Bob Dylan song says, “the times they are a-changin,’” and nowhere is this more apparent than in college football.
For decades we were told by the NCAA and the rest of the football establishment that playoffs would destroy the regular season. That compensation for college players would mark the end of amateurism, turn off the fans, and turn the college game into a pro knockoff. That allowing athletes to transfer schools without penalty would foster chaos and ruin college sports.
We were assured none of these things would ever happen.
Well, as Gilda Radner used to say on Saturday Night Live, “never mind.” Not only are these things happening, but they are now deemed essential to “modernize” college sports.
Last week the presidents and commissioners who oversee the College Football Playoff announced their support of expanding the existing four-team playoff to 12 teams. Some of the names have changed, but this is the same group that insisted, prior to launching the CFP seven years ago, that there would never be a playoff because it would kill interest in the regular season.
College football went without an official championship for over 100 years. The BCS championship game lasted for 16 years, until the four-team CFP was launched in 2014. Now the powers that be are hoping to institute the expanded field in 2023, but existing contracts with TV and bowl games may delay the change to 2026.
An even bigger watershed moment will take place this Thursday, July 1, when at least seven states—Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico and Texas (with Oregon expected to join)—will begin allowing players to be compensated for the use of their name, image and likeness (NIL).
This will allow players to profit from autograph signings, endorsements, appearances, memorabilia sales, camps, clinics, social media followers, video shout outs, birthday greetings, etc.
And last week, the Supreme Court debunked the NCAA’s amateurism arguments and ruled that players could also be compensated with academic-related benefits like musical instruments, scientific equipment, postgraduate scholarships, tutoring, study abroad, academic rewards and internships.
The question, of course, is whether “education-related benefits” might extend to more enticing perks such as vehicles to get students to class, trips to resorts near historical landmarks, rock concerts related to the study of music, and large-screen TVs and video games related to the study of technology.
Only time will tell, but Justice Neil Gorsuch, in writing the Court’s opinion, referenced a “no Lamborghini rule.”
Still another sea change took place earlier this year when, after testing the water with no penalty transfers for graduate students, the NCAA ruled that all athletes can transfer one time without having to sit out a year.
As feared, schools are now openly recruiting athletes from other schools who may be unhappy about their playing time or status on the team.
It's all part of the new world order that features playoffs, pay, and poaching.
COVID Sidelines NC State: A North Carolina State baseball team that had upset No. 1 ranked Arkansas in the NCAA Regionals, drubbed an excellent Stanford team, beat the best pitcher in college baseball (Vanderbilt’s Jack Leiter) and was headed to the championship round of the College World Series, was sent home because of positive COVID tests and contact tracing protocols.
Because two unvaccinated players and several vaccinated players tested positive.
Because when players practice, play, sweat, shower, dress, eat, room, and sit in dugouts together, COVID will spread.
And because their coach, Elliott Avent, didn’t want to “get political” or “indoctrinate” his players to get vaccinated.
Sorry, coach. This isn’t about politics. It’s not about indoctrination. It’s about health and safety. And making sure your team could stay in the tournament. You owed it to your players, your school, and your fans to make sure they were all vaccinated.
The message is clear. If you don’t want to get vaccinated, that’s your choice. But understand the risk you’re taking if you don’t. Test positive any time, and you could ruin your team’s season.
The NC State travesty isn’t likely to be an isolated event. This fall, you can expect college football teams with low vaccination numbers to have positive tests, sending their unvaccinated players—and perhaps some vaccinated players—to the sidelines, affecting the outcomes of games and possibly causing forfeitures.
Unless their coaches do the right thing and “get political.”
Pitch Count Madness: On Thursday night the Red Sox's Nick Pivetta and the Cubs' Zach Davies were pulled with no hitters in progress. Pivetta was pulled after 6 2/3 innings because he'd thrown 100 pitches. Davies was pulled for a pinch hitter in the seventh after throwing 94.
This is absolute madness. It's also one of the reasons so many people are getting
turned off to baseball.
Nifty Fifty: Saturday my wife, Christy, and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary. I’m one very lucky guy. She's not only smart, funny, caring, giving, unselfish and beautiful, she' also an inspiration to everyone who knows her.
After all these years, I still feel like I'm on my honeymoon.