Tag:college football
Posted on: January 21, 2013 2:14 pm

Te'o, Lance & Scrub a dub-dub

So you’re thinking about attending this year’s NFL Scouting Combine in February?

When you do, best just leave your ‘moral-compass’ back at the motel. Won’t need it.

If the Manti Te’o scrub-up is any indicator, the character-test won’t be given out at this year’s obstacle course, or any other NFL dress rehearsal, for that matter.

Since the Deadspin article on Te’o’s fake, leukemia-stricken girlfriend hit the fan early last week, handlers of the Notre Dame All-American have been running him and his reputation through a media wash & spin cycle.

Irish AD-VP Jack Swarbrick kicked things off Wednesday with an ‘I believe Manti’ press conference.

On Friday, ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap interviewed the sequestered, fallen hero who fielded questions filtered through his attorney.

Now, Team Te’o has reportedly reserved time on the Katie Couric show this Thursday with his parents alongside as buffer. This Manti guy, he’s a real piece a’ work.

A clean-up job like this is rare, but the character kiss-off in the sport biz is nothing new.

Remember Larry Phillips (NEB / ‘96), the Cornhusker who dragged a woman down a stairwell and then Tom Osborne returned him to the roster just in time for the big game? The red-flags were flyin’ high on Larry but he still got the royal treatment on draft day (R1-P6 / STL). Now he’s resident of the California penal system. I wonder if Tom & Dick would’ve played social-worker had Larry not been a gridiron star? I’m thinking…no.

Te’o didn’t go caveman on anyone, he just played us all for Neanderthals.

Why don’t I believe Manti’s denial of any involvement in concocting the fake, fateful girlfriend? Because no man, I mean NO man, who is generally honest, would refer to an on-line friend whom he never met, neither in person or by video chat, even if believed to be real, as a “girlfriend” when speaking in public.  No man.

But an arrogant, ignorant man might fabricate an on-line “girlfriend" with a special purpose in mind: to cultivate attention & sympathy that will help to bring a Heisman contender the votes necessary to win the coveted award and the fame & fortune which accompanies its receipt. Every little bit helps when you play on that side of the ball which has never been primary workplace of a Heisman recipient.

A friend who purportedly dies of cancer is a sad tale to listeners. A “girlfriend” who dies is a memorable story to Heisman voters, especially when the word and its sad story are dropped into practically every interview you give.

The golden-domers had another Heisman hungry hero back in the day by the name of Joe Theismann (Theez-man). Some believe Joe changed the pronunciation of his last name to rhyme with the famous trophy in hopes of garnering votes. If true, it's goofy and kinda’ desperate, but harmless enough.

Te’o is claiming victim status, Swarbrick is firmly in his corner, a new MT girlfriend has appeared and a fabrication fall-guy has stepped forward (R. Tuiasosopo), a guy who‘s motive (Just for kicks?) will be as unbelievable as the Te’o denial. A weak explanation, to be sure, but it’s their story and they, along with most the media, are gonna’ stick to it.

The print media remains divided, skeptical of Manti Te’o, but Sportscenter is scrubbin’ like mad.

John Clayton on Te’o: “No character issue (1/17).”

Bill Polian: “No character issue.“

Schaap the Younger, assigned to Mr. Clean duty, conducted a closed-door interview with the beleaguered footballer on Friday (who looked like he’d just rolled out bed), ostensibly to get the true story but more likely to scrub-down the player’s image before his draft-value plummets and ND’s recruitment suffers. Jeremy on Te’o: “believable.” Bravo.

Earlier in the week, Oprah Winfrey Scrub & Shine provided the same service for Lance Armstrong Amalgamated. As Lancer’s record of deceit & skullduggery is major league in comparison to the young Te’o’s tally of tsk-tsks, he’ll need many more drives through the ‘character car wash’ before he’s presentable again, corporately speaking. But Lance is a savvy dude. He might still take PEDs mainstream, if the lawsuits don’t do him in.

When the media outlet that breaks the Manti Te’o hoax boasts its biggest claim to fame to be the Sterger / Favre item, it’s fair to say our 4th branch of government (the media) is not meeting its duty to the public interest. ‘Captured’ might be the relevant word here.

Like Mr. Phillips, Te’o will probably go 1st round in this April’s NFL Draft. And he will fare better, mentally speaking, than Larry did if he remains true to this one, simple rule. It’s called the Costanza Rule: “It’s not a lie, if you believe it.”

Steven Keys
Macro Sports
Posted on: July 25, 2012 12:32 am

Urban Renewal Nets SEC Groove

September 1st, that’s the date. That’s when Buckeyes’ new head coach Urban Meyer and Ohio State weigh anchor and embark on their football odyssey in quest of redemption & past glory as they face intrastate foe Miami (OH) in both school’s season-opener.

Who would’ve thunk just two years ago, that in 2012, the winningest coach in the history of The Ohio State University (94-22 / .810) and the most reviled in Ann Arbor (8-1) since Woody Hayes, would be out, replaced by a man of equal accolades in the person of then Gators’ guru Mr. Meyer?

Sidebar: What’s up with precedent “The”: The Open Championship (British), The Johns Hopkins, The University of Alabama, The Championships Wimbledon, The Ohio State? I think it’s what Edward de Vere (Shake-speare) expressed as “paint(ing) the lily (King John).”

And Jim Tressel, he’s doing fine in Akron (VP). The transgressions that led to his exit in 2011 now pale in light of Penn State’s misdeeds. Near 60 and positioned for retirement, if he gets the itch to coach again he’ll have plenty of suitors. Much depends on the right opportunity knocking. That could turn on how experiments pan out at top-tier schools like Notre Dame (Kelly), Florida (Muschamp) and USC (Kiffin). We will see.

An Ohio native (Toledo '64), Urban Meyer arrived in Columbus with an armload of trophies and a perceptible SEC groove. His resume is textbook for the stepping-stone career path: multiple schools, brief tenures, varied specialties. I’m not criticizing. This is SOP for today’s hot-prospect college coach. Larry Brown was ahead of his time.

And those specialties of Meyer, most cover the offensive side of the field. That means he’ll have OSU matriculating nicely in short order. Given last year’s atypical low national ranking (103), there’s no other way to go but up.

The traditionally stout Ohio State defense (19) then figures to remain its strong suit, even with graduate attrition. As defense is not Meyer’s forte this is where his skill in the fine arts of interviewing (assistants) & delegation will come into play.

It takes time to mold a team, but it wouldn’t be hasty to expect quick results from Urban. This guy’s accustomed to winning at a high level (.819 / 7-1). He’s what they used to call a real go-getter, as evidenced by his Manifest Destiny approach to the recruitment war which can take him deep into rival territory (Michigan).

And there in may lay Meyer’s biggest challenge, finding recruits that can maintain the numerous standards laid-down by his new Big Ten employer. There are the NCAA rules, then there are the school’s criterion, enhanced somewhat at OSU in wake of recent troubles.

Helping matters is OSU’s 2012 schedule. No cake-walk, it doesn’t exactly send chills down your spin either, like a typical Notre Dame line-up. Though, I’ve seen more daunting Irish agendas than this fall’s version. I count three bruisers on the Buckeyes’ slate (MSU / UW / UM), five legitimate contests and four win-ables.

Years from now, when the victories & titles are tallied and a retired, gray-haired Urban Meyer steps onto the OSU field and joins the band to dot the ‘eye,’ older Buckeyes will reflect back on those trying times in 2011, nod their heads in acceptance and whisper to eachother, ‘Every cloud has a silver & red lining…and it was worth every penny!’

Steven Keys
Posted on: June 13, 2012 12:14 pm

College Football's Powdered Wigs

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 & 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).

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 victory, rah, rah, rah.

Steven Keys
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com