Do college football coaches become campus deities?

Many posters to this blog have remarked on the elevated role of football in setting agendas and goals at Georgia high schools.

AJC.com has a good story today on the influence that football coaches and programs exert on college campuses. The story relates to the scathing report on the Penn State cover-up of Jerry Sandusky’s sexual abuse of young boys. The report concludes that legendary coach Joe Paterno and other Penn State leaders downplayed allegations against Sandusky to avoid bad publicity about a football program that was both highly revered and highly profitable.

I recently read “Gods of Alabama” by local writer Joshilyn Jackson. Among the gods Jackson lists are “high school quarterbacks, trucks, and Jesus.”  She might well have added college football coaches to her list.

Here is an excerpt from the AJC story:

To those who may be shocked the situation in State College got so out of hand, people who study sports have a message: Don’t be so surprised.

College coaches and their teams bring in truckloads of cash, feeding a beast that sometimes overwhelms many of the loftier goals of a university. Examples have been around since the first leather helmet, but seem to have multiplied in recent years.

“In these small towns, in these bubbles, the main thing is these sports teams and the coaches,” said Murray Sperber, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of several books on the negative effects of big-time sports on higher education. “I can’t believe people didn’t know, but they didn’t want to know. So there were huge amounts of deniability.”

The Penn State debacle is just the latest example of problems that skeptics blame on the culture of major-college athletics.

Ohio State ultimately vacated all its wins from that 2010 season, including a Sugar Bowl victory over Arkansas. Tressel was forced out for his actions, though fans still held a pep rally supporting him at his house. He has now landed at the University of Akron, as a vice president outside of athletics.

Southern California was hammered by the NCAA for allowing an agent to pay Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush and his family. The Trojans lost their 2004 BCS national title, 30 scholarships and two years of bowl eligibility. And yet the penalties may ultimately amount to a speed bump for USC, which is expected to contend for a national championship this season as it returns to bowl eligibility.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

74 comments Add your comment

Hillbilly D

July 14th, 2012
5:24 pm

College coaches and their teams bring in truckloads of cash, feeding a beast that sometimes overwhelms many of the loftier goals of a university.

Money talks and as the coffers get larger and larger, it talks louder. The “student-athlete”, at least in Division 1 football and basketball, is a myth. It’s a business, pure and simple.

John

July 14th, 2012
6:03 pm

I went to Emory, no football team, and I’m damn proud of the outstanding education I got. College is about getting an education so you can have a career tosupport your self and family, not some dumb ass jock football. Now a proud member of the educated liberal elite and the 1%.

Good ole Boys at the Gold Dome

July 14th, 2012
6:25 pm

Hillbilly D-Not only football and basketball but University/College as a whole is a business.Look at the Sunday AJC.Universities in Georgia added over 5000 jobs during the past years,while state departments cut over 10,000 jobs in this time frame.It’s a business,pure and simple. Also the coach at UGA makes around 2.8 million and the President of UGA makes around 1 million with benies.

Ghoti

July 14th, 2012
6:42 pm

“Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” –Lord Acton

Old Physics Teacher

July 14th, 2012
6:52 pm

Enter your comments here

Hillbilly D

July 14th, 2012
6:54 pm

Good ole Boys

I’m in agreement with you on that. I usually get hammered on here for saying it, though.

Old Physics Teacher

July 14th, 2012
6:55 pm

When school officials say, “Academics and athletics are equally important,” you know you’re in Georgia (or possibly Texas).

Hillbilly D

July 14th, 2012
7:00 pm

Ohio State really learned their lesson after Tressel, huh? Look who they hired to replace him.

td

July 14th, 2012
8:05 pm

John

July 14th, 2012
6:03 pm

You are a great example that we (as a nation) should not ever elect a President again or appoint someone to a court that does not come from a school with a great football team.

td

July 14th, 2012
8:06 pm

Yes, let us do away with college sports and see just how fast all these college Presidents and salaries plummet.

td

July 14th, 2012
8:12 pm

More people attended a College sports contest last year in Georgia then will vote in Novembers election.

Hillbilly D

July 14th, 2012
8:32 pm

td

Some of these college Presidents’ salaries need to plummet, in my opinion.

Pride and Joy

July 14th, 2012
8:40 pm

I read that some are calling for tearing down the Joe Paterno statue at Penn State. I’d love to see that. It would be fitting.

[...] Do college football coaches become campus deities?Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Many posters to this blog have remarked on the elevated role of football in setting agendas and goals at Georgia high schools. AJC.com has a good story today.Column: NCAA must act: Gut Penn State footballHuffington PostCOLLEGE FOOTBALL: Coaches hold sway at many universitiesSan Angelo Standard TimesPenn Staters tire of unhappy scandal inFOXSports.comPeoria Journal Star -Bleacher Report -Chicago Daily Heraldall 2,138 news articles » [...]

td

July 14th, 2012
9:00 pm

Hillbilly D

July 14th, 2012
8:32 pm

td

Some of these college Presidents’ salaries need to plummet, in my opinion.

I can guarantee you in the SEC the football coach is held 1000 times more accountable for the job he is doing.

[...] Do college football coaches become campus deities?Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Many posters to this blog have remarked on the elevated role of football in setting agendas and goals at Georgia high schools. AJC.com has a good story today.Column: NCAA must act: Gut Penn State footballHuffington PostCOLLEGE FOOTBALL: Coaches hold sway at many universitiesSan Angelo Standard TimesPenn Staters tire of unhappy scandal inFOXSports.comPeoria Journal Star -Bleacher Report -Chicago Daily Heraldall 2,139 news articles » [...]

TimeOut

July 14th, 2012
9:28 pm

I would love to see a complete separation of academics and athletics. However, there are so many people who have built their lives around college sports in particular. It is their identity. It is their principal source of entertainment and socialization. They choose their children’s post-secondary destinations by teams’ performances. They see nothing wrong, nothing ‘out of whack,’ in their preferred way of life. I see the whole system as in need of dismantling. But, I am certain that I would be stoned quicker and more thoroughly for attempting it than would an Arab female behind the wheel, driving back from her boyfriend’s apartment, wearing his shirt.

Tired

July 14th, 2012
9:28 pm

It starts in high school. It’s why kids who really need remedial help keep getting passing grades, and why many schools have outstanding playing fields accompanied by pitiful libraries and vintage science lab equipment. So sure, it’s a problem at the college level, but not only at the college level. The coach has more pull than anyone else.

liberalefty

July 14th, 2012
9:31 pm

JOE PATERNO was a total fraud who enabled a pedophile rapist.

liberalefty

July 14th, 2012
9:33 pm

ALLEN HIGH school in TEXAS just built a 60 million dollar football stadium

[...] did on Saturday afternoons. Jerry Sandusky will spend what is left of the rest of his life …Do college football coaches become campus deities?Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Coaches hold sway at many universitiesSan [...]

[...] did on Saturday afternoons. Jerry Sandusky will spend what is left of the rest of his life …Do college football coaches become campus deities?Atlanta Journal Constitution [...]

Solutions

July 14th, 2012
10:07 pm

It all goes back to the Greeks, perfection of the mind and body. As usual, we have distorted the concept, perfecting the body in some, and the mind in others. The goal of all students (and people in general) should be the perfection of both the mind and body.

mitch

July 14th, 2012
10:08 pm

Interesting to note that the Football coaches aet UGA and Tech make five times as much as Joe Paterno was paid. I am not convinced that these football programs bring in any more money that is spent. Have never heard of an audit being made of the Athletic Associations.

bootney farnsworth

July 14th, 2012
10:13 pm

do they become gods?

if they win, hell yes.

is it good for society?
OMG no.

bootney farnsworth

July 14th, 2012
10:15 pm

it is well past time for a complete and total seperation of education and athletics.

it won’t happen, but its well past time

bootney farnsworth

July 14th, 2012
10:20 pm

consider: faculty & staff at most Georgia colleges/Universities have had frozen pay for years.

Mark Richt just got a raise.
Paul Johnson makes more in a year than Boddy Dodd did in his career.

and people wonder why Georgia has become the butt of so many educational jokes?

rooster

July 14th, 2012
11:42 pm

Enter your comments here

[...] did on Saturday afternoons. Jerry Sandusky will spend what is left of the rest of his life …Do college football coaches become campus deities?Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)all 2,483 news [...]

rooster

July 15th, 2012
12:41 am

Enter your comments

Not to mention that Dodd won bowl games.

As for jokes, I do believe Ohio State and Penn State are the biggest “School Compromises Itself to Cover Corrupt Football Program” stories of the last few years. Penn State in particular is going to be the butt, so to speak, of sneers, jeers, and general contempt for some tim to come. And deservedly so.

liberalefty

July 15th, 2012
1:32 am

Enter your comments here

[...] Nation. (blog)Penn State football is a $53 million gravy boat we all slosh inPennLive.com (blog)Do college football coaches become campus deities?Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)all 2,562 news [...]

carlosgvv

July 15th, 2012
7:59 am

Do the top universities in Russia and China have coaches and teams that bring in truckloads of cash?

Or, do they actually concentrate on learning?

Pride and Joy

July 15th, 2012
8:23 am

Td you said about college football coaches “I can guarantee you in the SEC the football coach is held 1000 times more accountable for the job he is doing.”
Not true.
Joe Paterno was a mandatory reporter. It was his duty and obligation to report the rapes by Sandusky to the police. He shirked his duty. He hid the crime. He aided the criminal. He was not held accountable and it WAS his job to report.
That’s the wholde point of this blog.
Football coaches are not held accountable and are being rewarded for pitifully performing the most important part of their job- protecitng the children and young men and all those in his power to reach and influence.
Joe Paterno and college fooball coaches are failures.

Athens Girl

July 15th, 2012
9:09 am

Absolutely, yes, the coaches become gods. I grew up in Athens in the ’70’s & ’80’s when Dooley was UGA’s football coach. Vince Dooley was highly regarded, especially after winning the national title. I am proud to say that I graduated from UGA, never having gone to a football game. I was there to get an education, not attend sporting tournaments. Plus I saw what happened to Athens on game weekends. Perhaps the main purpose of any college should be to educate, not entertain.

bootney farnsworth

July 15th, 2012
9:31 am

I love the game. played it all the way from Pop Warner thru HS. football taught me countless life lessons – both good and bad. I truly love the game.

that said, collegian sports are poison to the schools they allegedly represent.

back in the land before time when I played Pop Warner, teams were drawn from the neighborhoods schools drew from, but were not officially part of the school. like the school, it was a community entity.

at least at the HS level, we need to return to that concept

Aquagirl

July 15th, 2012
9:51 am

in the SEC the football coach is held 1000 times more accountable for the job he is doing.

That’s absolutely true. The only problem is that the football coach only has one metric—the win-loss record. Rape in the showers or illiterate goons wandering around campus…not so much.

Lee

July 15th, 2012
10:04 am

“Do college football coaches become campus deities?”

Of course they do. It was bad enough in the 60’s and 70’s when I was growing up in the days before cable TV and fifty channels devoted to sports. For example, it has been 30 years since Bear Bryant last coached a game, but go into any bar-b-que joint or bar in Alabama and I will wager they will have a poster of “The Bear” on the wall – unless, of course, you’re in Tiger Territory near Auburn.

Today, the money that college football generates is insane. Major football programs generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, head coaches making millions in salary and endorsements, assistant coaches making six figures, athletes who shouldn’t be on a college campus without a mop and broom in hand biding their time before they can jump to the NFL and cash in on their riches, and college presidents hamstrung by public opinion are afraid to make the hard decisions.

I think Mark Richt at UGA is more ethical than most major college coaches, but look at what he has to do to remain competitive and keep his job. He recruits athletes who are barely literate, enrolls them in some joke of a degree program such as “Sports Marketing”, hires tudors to spoonfeed them information to get them to pass that easy program, and even has to hire “class checkers” to make sure the idiots show up for class. If they are too stupid to get into UGA under those conditions, he sends them off to Hargrave Academy for a year and then transfers them in the following year.

If that is what a professed christian and one of the more ethical coaches does, think about what transpires at some of the unethical programs.

Whenever someone does try to stand up against the machine and try to impose more rigid academic standards, they have to contend with thousand of so-called “fans” calling for their head and groups such as the NAACP calling them racist bacause apparently, high academic standards will negatively impact the black athlete more than the white athlete (wonder why that could be??).

As for me, I rarely watch the sports entertainment called football anymore. I’ve got better things to do.

Lee

July 15th, 2012
10:05 am

“tudors” – lol

MB

July 15th, 2012
11:16 am

@ TimeOut, Tired, Bootney, etc. You are absolutely right – it begins long before college and needs to be changed at the secondary level. The current system creates athletes who believe the rules are made to be bent for them and their teams. When they get in trouble in college, why would they NOT expect to have their troubles “handled” as they were in HS?

Communities need to rethink their academic vs athletic emphasis. Current situation in a county with one high school: $150K + for an athletic director and athletic secretary PLUS another $100K for a head football coach. Coach teaches a couple of PE classes, so of that $250K, about $30K may be state funded. Due to budget constraints (that can cover coaches, ADs, secretaries and administrators who are primarily locally-funded) over the past three years, teachers have been furloughed 10 days each year, sometimes without a county supplement, and have to sub during planning periods because the system only pays for subs for absences of three or more days.

They’ve just changed head coaches so he is bringing in his “coaching team” and their wives, many of whom are teachers. Too bad if you’re a good teacher – if a coach or his wife needs a job, adios!

Actions speak louder than words; these salaries are NOT covered with gate receipts, so the message is that football outranks academics absolutely and overwhelmingly!

Robert

July 15th, 2012
11:26 am

How did we become a country of cowards? We need to free ourselves of these chains.

Devil's Advocate

July 15th, 2012
11:29 am

Let me make sure I understand the greater points posted in this blog:

1. Occupy protesters are wrong for claiming the 1% makes too much money but college football and basketball coaches of programs (and any entertainer for that matter) who organically bring in more money than their salaries are wrong for being compensated for their work.

2. Colleges should not provide entertainment so all the student union and various clubs and organizations on each college campus should be disbanded and everyone needs to stay neck deep in their studies.

3. Because one college coach molested kids and his boss turned his head, every college is guilty and sports need to leave campus.

4. Somehow, sports on campus means students cannot get the most out of their college studies. No facts required to support this claim.

5. Without college sports soaking up so much money, all that cash from donations, ticket sales, concessions, and the economic impact of a city on gameday would magically be redirected to academics.

6. Black athletes who score touchdowns hurt everything. White athletes who score touchdowns are okay. Blacks are racists for allowing this to happen.

7. No athlete can possibly do well in academics or ever have a decent career outside of sports.

8. All “regular” students are upstanding members of society. They never get into fights at bars, frat houses, or parties in general. They also never rape their peers, do drugs, drink while underage, or drink and drive. They never cheat on their school work either.

Devil's Advocate

July 15th, 2012
11:32 am

Oh yeah, it’s all Mark Richt’s fault. I don’t know why we’re bashing Joe Pa when Richt is the reason for all wrong done on any college campus. That man deserves to be fired for the bad actions of everyone.

Just Sayin'

July 15th, 2012
11:44 am

@DA,

Around this time of year, you shouldn’t leave so many strawmen lying around– fire danger’s running high at this point of the summer.

ScienceTeacher671

July 15th, 2012
12:00 pm

Oh, yeah….we’ve got furlough days, they’ve cut our classroom supply allotments to nothing, etc., but they’ve still got the money to upgrade the football field just in case they ever need to have a playoff game here….

ScienceTeacher671

July 15th, 2012
12:02 pm

And if FAMU’s band was disbanded, shouldn’t Penn State’s football program be?

mitch

July 15th, 2012
12:35 pm

Our “inner bully” gets satisfaction from our team’s beating up other teams. Even if the other team is from a small school that was recruited for the specific purpose of losing to our big team. For this privilege we will pay our coaches millions and millions of dollars.

Ashley

July 15th, 2012
1:34 pm

If they got rid of sports, namely football and basketball at the college level, what would happen to all those remedial classes and student tudors who get paid to help all those dumb jocks?

bootney farnsworth

July 15th, 2012
2:30 pm

@ DA

just because you have the right and ability to make a total jackass of yourself doesn’t mean you should use it.

but since you did – the issue here is the culture of football driving colleges, not the culture of education driving athletics. please try to keep up if you insist on posting while adults are present.

using your convoluted “logic”

1-pedophilia and rape are OK if the team wins
2-denying it, hiding it. and lying about it are OK if the team wins
3-the devestated lives of a few children are OK if the team wins.

so in summation, Devils Advocate is just fine with the raping of children by the coaching staff so long as the team wins.

thank you so much for being the best arguement those of us who wish to seperate athletics from academics could ever hope for.

bootney farnsworth

July 15th, 2012
2:39 pm

some educational realities which DA either ignores or is incapable of understanding:

1-the vast majoritiy of donations brought in by athletics get plowed right back into athletics. same for the monies made via mechandising. while not impossible, its a very rare day when a faculty or staff position which does not serve the athletics department in some form or another.

2-the vast, overwelming majority of NCAA and related sports programs lose money. usually big money. and that’s with the income generated by point 1.

3-the vast majority of football and basketball players who enroll at the major college level do not graduate. many don’t attend classes worthy of being called higher education courses.

4-it is not the job of a college to entertain anyone.

5-of the 92,000+ at Stanford, the vast majority of them are NOT students. they are grads, donors, and sychopants. football and basketball in partcular are not available, accessable, or affordable to the average student. movies at the student union, however, are.