They are the overlords of college football, the people who package the game and put it on the shelves for millions to consume every autumn.
They are the Boards of Regents, trustees, college presidents, NCAA folk, a few coaches, big boosters & alumni and lots of corporate Suits with a finger stuck in the college pie.
I guess not one is a serious pigskin fan, you know, the dedicated type that can sit through ESPN’s College GameDay. Most are MBAs whose real passion is the game of business.
Think of ‘em as…the powdered wigs of college frolic.
Remember those guys? They were the blokes we gave the heave-ho back in 1776, only to return in 1812 when they torched DC (1814) and were finally sent packing by Mr. Jackson at New Orleans (1815). King George III was their poster-boy.
Not really cruel (Spanish Inquisition) or evil (Hitler / Pol Pot), but a portly upper crust (male and female) who looked down their noses at common folk.
They came ‘round to constitutional monarchy (1215) but distrusted popular will, vesting top power in the aristocracy (Lords). They viewed the republican-form with its checks & balances, separation of powers (Hume) and representative democracy as radicalism, its advocates deemed dangerous revolutionaries fit to be hung (Paine / Adams / Jefferson).
Guess we showed them, huh? Though, you gotta’ give the blue-bloods their props. The revolts that followed tended to overrun the bleachers, you might say (French ‘89 / Russian ‘17) and in some cases remain iron-fisted & repressive politically (China ‘49 / Vietnam ‘75).
But the powdered-wig lives on in America. Their handiwork survives in the Electoral College, a tried & true GOP fall-back Mr. Romney (and “bold” Mr. Walker?) will find handy this fall when the popular vote total falls a tad short. Expect a nail-bitter.
And you can feel their spirit in the hallowed hallways of many a college campus.
I used to think college ball held the moral high-ground vs the pros and their money game: greedy owners and greedy players. Not anymore. It’s not even close.
Not that avarice doesn’t inhabit the NFL as well. But at least you know where they stand. The National ain’t no democracy but if Roger Goodell is a king, he’s a philosopher king (Plato) who has one ear turned to the collective voice of the fan.
The college broker? Perched high, up in his ivory tower, he wouldn’t hear a holler.
That college ball still works the student-athlete charade and the amateurism angle ain’t what chaps my hide. Sure, the stars on the gridiron are way underpaid but too many today end-up on police blotters to invest too much concern.
What’s soured me on Saturday football is the fashionable disregard for fans.
Always a cash-cow, the easy-money from big sport venues isn’t enough for these sacred-cow institutions anymore. No sir-ee, Bob. The powdered wigs are grabbing with both hands.
1) Giving-over touchstones like school colors, uniforms and logos to merchandisers who care nothing for team / school tradition & loyalty.
2) The endless conference jumping that kills regional rivalries, ignores travel hardships and makes a musical-chairs mockery of all alignments. The fact it’s making the ship of college sport list heavily to the East Coast (SEC / Big East) has gotta’ be a red-flag. Makes Notre Dame’s and Army’s resolute independence that much more admirable, and sad if they ever flip (Navy).
3) Coaches packing-up for greener pastures is nothing new. Can’t begrudge a guy career advancement. But the brazen practice of schools courting prospective candidates in-season is a tacky new twist (ND, CU & Kelly / ‘09).
4) Few are shedding tears for demise of the bowl system. When the flood-gates opened in the 90s and the number of bowls shot-up (35), along with the cachet-killing, corporate-naming idea (TaxSlayer.com (Gator) Bowl), you could hear the bell toll. But then, maybe that was the whole point all along, for playoff-proponents.
Well, they got their way. A championship playoff is in the works. Yippie-yi-ya. Guess I’m suppose to be grateful for this crumb they’ve tossed down? Fiddlesticks.
If you think this playoff is for the fans, you best go back to school…grade school.
As imperfect as it was, at least the BCS Bowl system had a numerical logic to it. I know, LSU had no business playing Alabama twice. Cry me a river. Like any team was gonna’ beat Saban’s 2012 Crimson Tide? Not bloody likely. And I don’t recall anyone whining when the polling system was in play (AP / UPI), especially when two schools celebrated.
Now the same 10 schools will fight it out in a mini-playoff so one of ‘em can hoist (then drop) that god-awful, glass football thing in, what, March?
And the cherry on top: No one knows how to pick the four (?) participants. Good job.
If this money-grab, playoff plan has any element of fan appreciation, the wigs should let the consumers of college football award the golden-tickets.
I can hear it now: ‘Whoaaa, pardner! You can’t give the unwashed rabble such a lofty, complicated task as picking playoff teams, Steve. Only the wigs are qualified to make that call. Only they have the wherewithal to put aside bias & prejudice.’ Balderdash.
As voting for (Electors of) the President of the United States is well within the purview of John and Jane Q. Public, why not the selection of playoff participants? I feel the great minds at our institutions of higher learning can come up with a sound procedure for nationwide fan-voting. Their cuff-linked friends at DTT (Deloitte) can oversee it all.
Better a bias is diluted among 20 million voters than risk its greater influence on a small panel of twenty powdered wigs who are no more qualified to judge, thank you Bobby B. (CBS / “Former FSU” / CP / 6-6), than the mass of devoted college football fans.
But don’t sweat it, playoff proponents. There ain’t gonna’ be no revolution in college football. The wigs will make the call, pick the teams, fans will gripe, millions will watch and the only thing different will be the revolving-door of Nike uniform designs.
Rah, rah, for old alma mater. Onward to success, rah, rah, rah.
Ahead of the Curve
Photo credit: Richard Collins / 1790 / King George III / WC
About the Author
Written by Steven Keys
A native of the old Northwest Territory (IL), my wife and I have lived in four Midwestern states and Arizona. Today we live in Duluth, Georgia. I have a history / legal background.