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Getting The Boot: Then end of a bad spring season for college football?



Consider me one who wasn't surprised when Phil Knight University (formerly known as the University of Oregon) quarterback Jeremiah Masoli got sacked after yet another run in with the law. Consider me even more shocked that the University's athletic department didn't try to strike a deal to get him back on the field at some point in his career. For once, the University acted properly in the case of an athletic miscreant.

Masoli blew, as so many sportswriters have written, a great opportunity. Yet not all was right as the Oregonian's John Canzano noted that after Masoli won a few games, he transformed from a seemingly decent kid into, "A pompous player who introduced himself in social situations with, 'you know, I'm the quarterback."

Given the attention lavished on Masoli and the almost unwritten rule that he could get away with anything and still play, no wonder he got a big head and truly believed he was untouchable. In his defense, he was the victim of a bad system.

A system that touches all major college football programs. For example, take Oregon State turning a blind eye to all sorts of football player transgressions this past spring. One of the most glaring was the offering of a scholarship to a young quarterback with a record of alcohol abuse and alcohol-related problems.

Sure enough, said quarterback got caught recklessly piloting a houseboat on Lake Shasta and was immediately booted from the OSU football program. Props to coach Mike Reilly for his quick and just decision.

Yet how's this for irony? Both the booted OSU quarterback and Masoli can still play somewhere else and probably will as big time university football programs really don't seem to care, in general, much about personal character.

To the big time college football programs, it's all about winning. Winning at any cost.

Meanwhile down at USC (aka the only professional football program in Los Angeles) the prevailing attitude of getting away with anything got shot down this week as the University's football program lost thirty football scholarships, a national championship season that will be voided as well as Reggie Bush losing his Heisman Trophy.

So who cares? I suspect the alums of all three universities mentioned above care a great deal. They want a winner on the field so they can crow to friends on at work on Monday morning how,"we won." No you didn't win, your hired hands won.

Getting quasi personal empowerment via the old school's football team winning has been around since Harvard first played Yale back in the dark ages. It won't change.

I attended a college whose football program was, and I suspect still is, more like a step above decent high school football. We went to the games knowing that not one player on the field was on an athletic scholarship. A few players might be on academic scholarships.

The games were fun without a lot of breast beating by alums. The school's player graduation rate was in the ninetieth percentile and most of the ex-footballers went on to have careers in finance, education, law, medicine, the military, etc.

There were two exceptions. One player during my time wasdrafted by the Chicago Bears. He made the team and for a moment held the NFL scoring record for five field goals in one game.

The other (a fraternity brother) washed out in Chicago but played in Canada's CFL. After he'd saved enough money, he quit football and went back to school to get his masters and then a PHD in education.

I always admired him and still admire all the young athletes who play college football for fun and don't get inflated egos and a false sense of entitlement only to find, as is true in so many of their cases, that the realities of life after football can be pretty harsh.

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