Wednesday, December 29, 2004

LSU "Compromises" in football Scandal

The LSU Cheaters...... I mean Tigers, have settled with one of the "kinesiology" instructors that was told to "keep her mouth shut" about plagerized papers from football players. The case involving the other kinesiology professor that flunked 10 players that would have been ineligible for the Peach Bowl (where LSU beat our YellowJackets) is still pending. Those players were given "extra credit" during the summer and their eligibility was re-instated for the game:

Another kinesiology instructor, Tiffany Mayne, also sued LSU in 2002. Mayne said she gave 10 football players failing grades in an introductory course in fall 2000, but the athletes got extra credit with a post-semester study session intended to keep them eligible to play in the Peach Bowl. LSU won the game in Atlanta, defeating Georgia Tech. Mayne's lawsuit, unlike that of Owen, is still pending.

This story is yet another example of the "win at all cost" mentality that is driven by fans and boosters and of course the mighty dollar.

Let's break this down. LSU was a struggling football program. They bring in a guy by the name of Nick Saban. He starts to turn the program around, bring in "better" players, and beats Georgia Tech on December 29, 2000 in the Peach Bowl.

It can be argued that this was a turning point for the LSU program. Under Gerry DiNardo, the Tigers were 7-15 in the previous two seasons. In Saban's first year he goes 8-4 and wins the Peach Bowl. In 2003, LSU goes on to win a share of the national champsionship and now Nick Saban is the king of the SEC and considered one of the top coaches in the game. Now Saban takes the Miami Dolphins head coaching job any day now, so Saban will become teflon man.

Now, let's go back to perceptions for a minute. This guy is held up as one of the most respected coaches in the profession. Yet, he and his staff cheated to win, and the school is trying to keep it quiet and avoid "admitting blame". How - payouts - hush-money.

So we have a cheater at LSU who won a National Championship who is held up high as a shining star. At Notre Dame we have a coach who was fired even though "the program was in the best shape ever", more players were graduating, and in the AD's words "from Sunday to Friday the program was in fantastic shape". The problem - Saturday. The media tried to turn the firing of Ty Willingham into a black/white thing. Forget that. It was a winning/losing thing - period. It was a money thing. Boosters don't like going 6-5. They want National Championship contenders every season. Now Notre Dame is the laughing stock of the sports world. Everyone knows that ND is a loser-job, a no-win situation. Just ask Urban Meyer (you are the man!).

Folks, when you complain about Chan Gailey, you are feeding into the win-at-all-cost mentality that drives AD's to fire people. What if VaTech had fired Frank Beamer after his early years of mediocrity? They didn't. They exercised patience and look how it has payed off. They have a coach who has built a perennial power, with program stability.

You want Chan Gailey gone? Fine. Get ready for the carousel of coaches over the next 10 years. Because that is what will happen. Get ready for the loss in credibility. You want Georgia Tech to be LSU on the football field? Is that what you want? Look what LSU had to do to get there. Look at Ohio State and revalations by Maurice Clarett. You do not compete for National Championships EVERY season and stay in the top 10 without cutting corners, steering recruits to easy majors and skating them through the system. That's the fact, and the NCAA is doing their best to hide that from the general public. Only with whistle-blowers do they spring into action to save their own reputation.

Georgia Tech is one of about 6 programs that have NEVER been put on probation. NEVER. You want that to change? If we start landing in the top 10 over the next couple of years, and it comes out that we cheated to do it, you going to be ok with that? Not me.

The reality is that the colleges with truly clean programs CAN compete, but not EVERY year in the top 10. To do so, you have to set your standards lower, like say - accepting a recruit who has been arrested 10 times in 5 years (a la Miami), then trying to convince the public that you are acting as Mother Teresa and will rehabilitate him for society. Oh, by the way, did I mention that he was the #1 defense recruit in the nation? Miami never said they would try to straighten the ways of anyone who isn't in the top 200 in nation out of high school.

Right now, Coach Gailey is battling with the admissions office to get a few kids accepted that don't have the GPA or SAT that matches Georgia Tech's standards. One of them had already verbally committed and has now de-committed for that very reason. But you know what - I'm ok with that. I hate that a VERY talented football player wants to be at GT, but cannot get in, but that's life. That's Georgia Tech. That's why a degree from GT is special. It means something. But it also means that we aren't going to win 10 games EVERY year. But you know what - we can be VERY competitive every year. We can compete for the ACC title consistently. We can have a program that stays in the middle of the pack or better. And once in awhile we will compete for the big prize. Don't forget, Georgia Tech was the last state school to win a national championship in football, not the kennel-club in Athens.

Bottom-line, I'm fed up with the hypocritical way college athletics is run. I'm tired of fans who have no concept of building a program. But the reality is that it is driven by money, which means fans and boosters. It is what it is. Chan Gailey may NOT be the man to lead us into the future, but he hasn't done anything to warrant an early exit from his contract. He deserves his time in the sun, and so does GT's reputation.

Having said all that, I sure hope Chan Gailey can win more than 7 games next season. :-).

One last comment on LSU. Kineseology? Are you kidding me? Isn't this also known as "PE" (Phys Ed)? They cannot even get passing grades in PE? Don't try and convince me that LSU has a culture towards a "student-athlete". It's "athlete" all the way.