A couple of months ago, I wrote an article posted on this website taking a number of schools to task in regards to their graduation rates on their college football programs. I drew a direct line between the desire to make money and the desire to provide “student-athletes” with a means to getting a college degree, using their athletic skills to advance their abilities within the classroom. I touched on how college football meant big money, that some schools transgressed, that it angered the NCAA, and ultimately, a few well-publicized slaps on the wrists would bring harmony back to college football, even if the graduation rates weren’t celebrated in the manner they should be.
The NCAA did land a few well-placed slaps on big college campuses, but it didn’t stop the big money, big-market programs from doing what they do best. I’m not talking about their ability to draw hundreds of thousands of people to games, and I’m not talking about their ability to take in millions of dollars of revenue for their schools. I’m talking about the other side.
The NCAA didn’t stop the cheating.
If you read no other part of this article, read this quote from legendary broadcaster Brent Musberger. At the end of the ESPN Films 30 for 30 special on Southern Methodist University football, Musberger says it best.
“Every time I walk into a stadium, I think to myself – ‘they’re still keeping score,’ ” says Musberger. “And as long as they’re keeping score, there will always be people who try to do everything they can to put up more points than the other guy.”
Brent Musberger, ladies and gentlemen, is a complete and utter genius. The NCAA shuttered the SMU Mustangs for the 1988 season almost 25 years ago due to multiple, blatant infractions while under probation. The move decimated the Mustangs program to the point where they didn’t field a team again until 1990, and they didn’t field a full complement of players until 1992. Since then, they’ve only within the last few seasons returned to prominence and bowl games, enduring a nearly 20-year stretch of irrelevance.