Academics? Right. College administrators are selling out

An artist's rendering of the Rutgers-Princeton game in 1869. A tradition was born.

An artist's rendering of the Rutgers-Princeton game in 1869. A tradition was born.

In 1869 — the same year Ulysses S. Grant turned a significant development at Appomattox into the U.S. presidency, the Transcontinental Railroad was completed and Mr. and Mrs. Heisman had a son named John–  we witnessed the birth of college football.

Rutgers defeated Princeton six “runs” to four. Legend, my favorite source, has it that Rutgers scheduled a “football” match, largely as payback for Princeton’s 40-2 win in baseball three years earlier. The sport was a mutant version of rugby back then. Teams used 25 players. Rutgers players wore scarlet scarves on their heads as turbans. (Hence, the first ‘do rag.) Players were not allowed to throw or run with the ball, pretty much eliminating the spread offense, but rather could advance only by kicking the ball with their feet or hitting it with their bodies.

After the game, Rutgers was ranked No. 1 by the BCS and everybody at Princeton started screaming for a playoff. I might have made that up.

I bring this up now because, while college football doesn’t resemble anything close to that game of 141 years ago, it may soon not even resemble the game of 141 days ago.

The dominoes are falling.

That's Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman (left), with former Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne, talking about the academics in the Big Ten. Right, academics.

That's Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman (left), with athletic director Tom Osborne, talking about the academics in the Big Ten. Right, academics.

Colorado has jumped from the Big 12 to the Pacific 10 (and at this point, the numbers in the conference names are mere testaments to the outdated stationary). Boise State has left the WAC for the Mountain West. Nebraska is bolting the Big 12 for the Big Ten, which is a nice setup for one of the more disingenuous quotes you’re going to read during this metamorphosis.

When Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman said that Nebraska was more “aligned” with the Big Ten’s academics, culture and athletics, it wasn’t even a half-truth. It was a one-third truth.

This isn’t about culture. It’s certainly not about academics. (Was Nebraska also pondering jumping to the Ivy?) Football and economics are driving all of this. This is about television contracts and conference championship games, not students in Lincoln being exposed to the theater in Iowa City.

Why can’t somebody in a suit just admit that?

We spend so much time banging on athletes for grabbing the money in free agency but claiming the contract offer had little to do with the decision. (Pitcher Mike Hampton captains this squad. He signed a $121 million free agent contract with Colorado in 2001 and then declared he wanted to be a Rockie because of  Denver’s “school system.”) We jump on players and coaches for lacking loyalty to anything other than direct deposit.

This is a good time to call out the school administrators.

Please, no more lip service about these fine academic institutions being committed to the “student” experience.

No more members of the board of regents acting aghast when a coach leaves for his next best thing.

No more “tsk, tsk,” when the freshman point guard says, “I think one year is enough.”

No more finger wagging from politicians when a university says, “Never mind the teacher layoffs. We need funding for a new practice facility.”

Because, yes, that was Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter who was in the center of Colorado’s greeting committee for Pacific 10 commissioner Larry Scott at the airport.

If the traditions and ideals of college athletics have been deteriorating for the past 20 years, they’re not deteriorating any more. They’ve done been blown up.

Soon, there will be no signs of yesterday. Colorado was first to the plunger. Nebraska and Boise State followed. Texas and Oklahoma could be next. Eventually, Notre Dame will jump in the pool.

Think the SEC and ACC aren’t taking note of this? The Pac (number TBA) and Big (number TBA) are pondering expanding to 16. Think the SEC is just going to let that happen? Wouldn’t Georgia Tech, Clemson, Miami and Florida State round out the conference nicely?

“Who are we kidding? It’s all about the money,” former Purdue coach Joe Tiller told the Indianapolis Star. “It’s not necessarily what’s good for the sport; it’s all about the money.”

Three weeks ago, I spoke to Georgia Tech athletics director Dan Radakovich about the potential changing landscape. He said at the time, “There’s no certainty in college athletics right now.” That now looks like understatement.

The ACC reportedly has finalized a 12-year rights deal with ESPN for $1.86 billion. For some reason it hasn’t been announced yet. This isn’t a good time to stall. If no ACC team is threatening to bolt, nobody is shutting the door, either.

In 2010, it’s not about traditions and rivalries. You’ll have to search history books for that. The money train is leaving the station and everybody wants on.

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC and Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

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68 comments Add your comment

Bob Horner could pull anybodys fast ball

June 11th, 2010
6:24 pm

So Jeff…are you saying it’s all about the money…..????

Bob Horner could pull anybodys fast ball

June 11th, 2010
6:30 pm

I’ve taken the time to read the blog…which btw was a good one….ummmm it made me think…the spy vs spy comic books were right…it’s dog eat dog….

Beast from the East

June 11th, 2010
6:38 pm

C’mon, Jeff. You don’t think the Nebraska AD was being honest? LOL
We all know it’s about the money. But we love college football, anyway. I guess we’re all just suckers for punishment.

SOGADOG

June 11th, 2010
6:44 pm

Money is about 75% of what is driving the restructuring we are seeing. I also think competitiveness is a factor. Nebraska owned the Big 8 until the merger with the remnants of the Southwest Conference. Now Nebraska cannot dominate the Big 12-2 with the addition of Texas and the other schools. I also suspect Colorado believes it can compete better in the Pac 10+1 than in the Big 12 -2 so they jumped ship as well. There could also be personality conflicts and power struggles behind the scenes. It seems the southern division of the Big 12-2 tried to dominate the northern division.

In any event, these are interesting times and it is difficult to imagine Oklahoma and Nebraska in different conferences. If I were running the SEC, I would not make a knee jerk move to add four more teams just because other conferences have grown. More than even money, College Football is about fan support and it remains to be seen how fans will react when their favorite team is buried in a 16 team super conference and age old rivalries and traditions are weakened or destroyed.

Me

June 11th, 2010
6:49 pm

Jeff…NEWS FLASH…our entire country is about the money. Who do you really think runs Washington DC?? It ain’t you and me, friend!

Chattanooga

June 11th, 2010
6:52 pm

This is about the “Pac 10″ and “Big 10″ working with the “Big XII” to destroy the BCS and put the mighty Rose Bowl back as the prominent bowl game.

Think about it: what’s the Sugar Bowl going to mean, if it’s, say, Alabama versus West Virginia, when the Rose Bowl is hosting Texas versus Ohio State? In short, this deal will bury the SEC, despite their dominance on the field over the past few years.

Pi$$onaDAWG

June 11th, 2010
6:53 pm

The half broke fan base of the SEC can find money to go to games, but their kids are DUMB as ROCKS. HEY, at least they can drink you under the table, Kill & Clean some GAME for dinner, and Pull me out of the MUD when I get my Lexus SUV stuck in the ditch. Thank GOD for UGA, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Bama Fans. When I have a business deal go wrong I will call a LSU grad to put a VooDoo curse on my enemy. If that don’t work I will have a Gator girl shake her Butt in his face and make a video to show his wife. My heart hurts and I am going to the losers at Vandierbilt.

Beast from the East

June 11th, 2010
7:05 pm

Pi$$onaDawg,
You are one classless piece of trash. It’s one thing to make light-hearted fun of your rivals, but talking about people’s children is just plain classless. If you’re trying to get anyone on your side, then you should consider changing your tactics, scumbag. I’m sure your university (if you even went to one) would be very proud of the well-spoken intellectual they produced.

Sonny Clusters

June 11th, 2010
7:07 pm

When we was being recruited by a big school their coach came over to our house and was talking with our mama and sitting in our easy chair in our den and when he left we was startled to find out that the coach had left his Rolex sitting right there on the end table next to the chair. We called him up and said, “Coach, did you know you left your watch sitting right there on the end table next to the chair you was sitting in?” and that coach just said, “Clusters, you must be mistaken. That’s not my watch you found that watch belongs to you.” We was so happy! We had a Rolex and we didn’t know how we got it. We was just getting ready to put that Rolex on when . . . BAM! our mama hit us up side the head and said, “Sonny Clusters, don’t you put on that watch. You don’t know where that watch has been or where it came from.” We ended up mailing that watch back to that coach because we wasn’t really considering going to his school anyway since we mostly wanted to be landscapers and earn a degree in that. We don’t think it makes any difference what conference some people are in.

"Chef" Tim Dix

June 11th, 2010
7:14 pm

It’s really pretty simple. Where can I get my school the biggest chunk of the TV pie. Ticket sales are just gravy.

Howard

June 11th, 2010
7:15 pm

Jeff…do you think any of this insanity will eventually lead to a four team playoff and a ditching of the BCS? Or is the BCS and these hypocritical college presidents and admin types all in the same boat. It almost reminds one of prostitution…selling your body (bodies in this case…the football players) to the highest bidders. Oh, which school was hit worse…Alabama back in the 1990s or USC?? Finally…I’m still missing Phil Fulmer…he has to reappear somewhere and sometime…you being one of his biggest fans…tell me, where is the “Great Pumpkin??” Tennessee isn’t as easy to despise w/out him…even Lane Kiffin was nowhere the fun than Phillistine Fulmer.

Sonny Clusters

June 11th, 2010
7:16 pm

Our second career choice was sportswriting. We was all lined up to go to sportswriting school if landscaping didn’t work out but, as some people know, one of us was taken by the Braves and the other one of us went second shift. We could still do some writing from the house a lot like the AJC folks are doing now. We may still catch on at the paper if we can figure how to narrow out our articles to fit in the new AJC format. When we was talking with Anne Cox Chambers she said not to worry about it because we reminded her a lot of Ralph McGill.

Boise Dawg

June 11th, 2010
7:17 pm

Jeff when hasn’t it been all about the money? I really don’t believe it was STRICTLY about money for Nebraska…. from what I have read they haven’t been very happy since the Big 12 formed and they got relegated to the north and away from Oklahoma…. I think this is partly payback. You know who started all this conference expansion? The SEC, back in 1991, after unsucessfully targeting Texas and Florida State, took Arkansas from the SWC and S. Carolina as an Independent. That set the wheels in motion for the Big 12 and the ACC expansion and conference championship games. Then we saw just a few years back the ACC raid the Big East so they could get a conference championship. College football and basketball have ALWAYS been about the money. I am surprised it has taken the Pac 10 and Big 10 as long as it has to join the party.

Ted Striker

June 11th, 2010
7:18 pm

You absolutely nailed it. This whole affair personifies the hypocrisy that exists in the governing bodies of college sports today. I wouldn’t mind seeing the financial structure implode 5-10 years from now — blow the whole thing up — and have it rebuilt to truly include the best interests of the athletes.

One point we differ on, however. Tech back in the SEC. I’ll take Miami, I’ll take FSU, I’ll take Clemson. However Tech is sooooo 1979. Might as well bring back bell bottoms and mullets and do away with having Coors in Georgia.

BIRDDAWGONE

June 11th, 2010
7:20 pm

Pi$$onaDAWG , Seems like you will talk about anything, except what happens on a football field.
“Lexus SUV stuck in a ditch” do you understand how funny THAT is?

extremus

June 11th, 2010
7:20 pm

I think the obsession our society has over money and the old bottom line is single-handedly responsible for the vast majority of evils America and the world at large have endured the past few decades, but never so much as the past ten or fifteen years, it seems. It doesn’t matter if it’s not logical or practical, it doesn’t matter how badly the “little” people (employees, fans, customers, etc) get shafted or even hurt in the process, if it turns a profit it’s given a green light by the bigwigs. And the bigger and more centralized both corporations and sports organizations become, the more power they have to dictate terms upon the masses. You’ve worked for twenty years for the same employer and never missed a day? Congratulations, now hit the road; your insurance is costing us too much, so we’re going to hire a couple of minimum wage part-timers to replace you. Can’t afford to attend the games in person anymore because of the soaring ticket prices? Tough luck, the rich say from their corporate-sponsored luxury boxes; sports is now becoming more and more a venue for the well-off, and who cares if your team goes under; at least we’ll have a nice tax write-off.

If you want to ruin a good thing and bring it to its knees, make it bigger, centralize (or monopolize) power, commercialize it out the gills, and see the heart and soul of everything that made it special ripped out and stomped on. And it applies to a whole lot of things, but right now nobody’s doing it better than America.

Boise Dawg

June 11th, 2010
7:21 pm

Why do some call this conference expansion, insanity? It has been going on since 1991. I actually think the proposed PAC-16 makes a lot of sense. It keeps regional teams together in an 8 team subconference and moves Division I football closer to a playoff system. People fear change, so they like to label drastic change as insane.

45ACP

June 11th, 2010
7:23 pm

WHAT!. I can’t buy Coors Light in Georgia anymore? Oh the horror…

Bob Horner could pull anybodys fast ball

June 11th, 2010
7:28 pm

Boise Dawg….”People fear change, so they like to label drastic change as insane.”… I like that can I plagiarize and take credit..???

45ACP

June 11th, 2010
7:43 pm

I say we welcome our Georgia Tech brothers into the SEC with open arms.

JSS

June 11th, 2010
7:52 pm

As a person who had to endure 10 hour bus trips to places like Lincoln, Nebraska, Iowa City, Des Moines, Champaign, Bloomington for 3 of my 4 and a half years in university; college football has been given this pedestal, will someone please kick that damn thing off from under that damn game!

[...] ♦ Academics? Right. College administrators are selling out [...]

Jeff Schultz

June 11th, 2010
8:31 pm

Bob Horner could pull… — Uh, yeah. But I had to fill more space than that. Hah!

Jeff Schultz

June 11th, 2010
8:33 pm

Beast from the East — I know. It’s college football and we’ll still love it. I’m like the old grumpy guy on the porch when it comes to things like this.

Jeff Schultz

June 11th, 2010
8:34 pm

Me — You and I don’t run the country? Ah, geez. There goes my weekend.

Jeff Schultz

June 11th, 2010
8:36 pm

Howard — Strangely, I think all of this could move college football closer to a playoff. That assumes all of the major conferences schedule conference title games, which seems apparent. Pac 10 and Big Ten, the two playoff holdouts, clearly have changed their priorities.

Jeff Schultz

June 11th, 2010
8:37 pm

Boise Dawg — Put it this way: It has never been “all about the money” to THIS extent.

Jeff Schultz

June 11th, 2010
8:38 pm

Ted Striker — Thanks dude. Hypocrisy is the perfect word.

Jeff Schultz

June 11th, 2010
8:39 pm

JSS — Safe to say, it’s gone.

Boise Dawg

June 11th, 2010
11:12 pm

Jeff… Texas football made over $70 million in total revenue and over $40 million in net profit the past few years and serveral top teams including Georgia aren’t far behind. Expansion, reshuffling, whatever you want to call it…. the top teams in college football are going to continue to see insane $$ whether this conference expansion happens or not.

This is really no different than what we have seen in professional sports over the past 20 years where salaries and team budgets just keep getting exponentially bigger. I think what you are finally realizing is that major college football and even basketball are really no different than professional sports team…. except they are even better because they get to enjoy tax exempt status.

Reid Adair

June 12th, 2010
2:48 am

It’s gotten crazy. I guess there has to be some truth to the idea that the “leftovers” from the Big 12 will join the Mountain West. Boise State must know this since they jumped to the MWC. In that situation, I would expect the Mountain West to get the BCS spot previously held by the Big 12.

I think the question is the SEC. Do they have to increase to 16? I’m not sure that’s a requirement – especially just for the sake of increasing. Any additions would have to be strengthening the conference, not just increasing numbers.

Dr. Warren

June 12th, 2010
5:05 am

Excerpts of letter from outgoing USC President, Steve Samples:

While we sharply disagree with many of the conclusions reached by the NCAA Committee on Infractions, the fact is that there were violations, and we must take responsibility for those violations.
Compliance with the NCAA rules is a responsibility that everyone at the university shares.

…like other universities that are competitive in athletics, we have a compliance office whose staff is responsible for making sure NCAA rules are understood, for answering questions about NCAA rules and for investigating charges that NCAA rules may have been violated…

However, monitoring and regulating human behavior is complex at best, and even more so in a far-flung region like Los Angeles, home to a vast entertainment-sports enterprise. In this environment, we need to make sure that we are doing everything we can, at every level of the university, to protect our students, their families – and ultimately the university – from unscrupulous sports agents and others who seek to exploit our elite student-athletes or their families. To that end we have hired the Freeh Group, an internationally respected consulting group led by former federal judge and ex-FBI director Louis Freeh, to help us take a fresh look at how we can keep unscrupulous agents and sports marketers away from our student-athletes and the university.

Dr. Warren

June 12th, 2010
5:06 am

Interesting conclusion to USC President Steve Samples’ letter:

….We fully intend to have the very best athletics department and athletics compliance program in the country. But let’s not kid ourselves – no amount of resources can guarantee that we can keep every unscrupulous sports agent or marketer away from our student-athletes and their families. All of us at USC will strive to do everything humanly possible to minimize the possibility of infractions occurring in the future. We can do better, we must do better, and we shall do better, but perfect we will never be.

18in32

June 12th, 2010
8:44 am

I think you mean “stationery.” Sorry – pet peeve of mine.

Pi$$onaDawg

June 12th, 2010
8:44 am

The SEC should take Tech, Clemson, FSU, and Miami, but send Vandy and Kentucky to the ACC. The ACC should try to get Pitt and West Virginia. That gives both the SEC and ACC 14 teams and a great Football Conference and a great Basketball Conference.

Fred

June 12th, 2010
8:45 am

Just damn Jeff, it’s nice to hear SOMEONE finally yell out loud that the Emperor has no clothes. I almost threw up yesterday when I heard a report that Texas wouldn’t consider the SEC because of “Academics.” Huh? Is Texas even a pimple on Vanderbilt’s butt when it comes to academic prowess? I think not. They don’t want to come to the SEC because they would get their asses handed to them and would be exposed as the fair to middlin’ program they really are. They have troubles making it through that over rated Big 12 with only one otgher decent team in it year in and year out.

Teams will be clamoring to get in the Big 10 and the Pac 10, but you can guarantee that they will run with their tails between their legs if the SEC comes a’knockin’ with an invite. Do you think VaTech want’s to play SEC football over that weak ACC? Hell no.

Teams from other conferences live in fear of the SEC and they know deep down in their tiny, cowardly hearts that though they may publicly claim to be the ‘best” that they really aren’t good enough to play season in and season out in the SEC and escape without multiple losses.

Jeff Schultz

June 12th, 2010
8:52 am

Boise Dawg — “I think what you are finally realizing is that major college football and even basketball are really no different than professional sports team…. except they are even better because they get to enjoy tax exempt status.” …
(That’s a hell of an observation there.)

Jeff Schultz

June 12th, 2010
8:55 am

Pi$$ — I’ll give you one school nobody has mentioned that is dying to come to the SEC: Texas A&M. Not saying SEC wants them. But they want to go in a different direction than Texas (which may be headed to Pac-10) and can renew rivalries with Arkansas and LSU.

Jeff Schultz

June 12th, 2010
8:57 am

Fred — I think you’re absolutely right about Texas. They’re not as desperate financially obviously as some other Big 12 schools but they know they can’t dominate SEC like they can Pac-10. They already recruit in California so it’s perfect for them. Academics has NOTHING to do with it. Pac-10 has some strong academic schools, but, come on, it also has Wash. St., Oregon State, etc. We’re not talking Harvard.

Pi$$onaDawg

June 12th, 2010
9:03 am

Jeff I just think the travel is just too far for a team in Texas. The big TV advertisers like Ford, AT&T, and Nike will love to pay big dollars to be on the SEC games, but I can’t see some small or local business wanting to pay that money for people in Texas to see their business but can’t use that business.

Dr. Warren

June 12th, 2010
9:49 am

Stanford, Berkeley, USC, and UCLA — all ranked among the 25 best schools in the country, including top 15 business and law schools. Throw in UT-Austin, which is right on their tails, and that’s a hell of an academic line-up for the Pac-10. Top 25 schools in other conferences? The ACC — Duke, UNC, UVA, with GT not far behind. The Big 10 — Northwestern and Michigan, with Wisconsin in the Top 35. The SEC? Vanderbilt…and…that’s about it. Maybe the SEC should bring Emory into the fold to remind everyone of the only rankings that actually mean anything in the real world.

old tennis partner

June 12th, 2010
9:55 am

Jeff, just looking out for you buddy… You can keep carpel tunnel at bay if you don’t waste key strokes on phrase like “when it comes to things like this.” in your response to Beast from the East

The SEC will dilute their product if they look at anybody but Texas, Oklahoma, and possibly Texas A&M and Texas Tech.

Hillbilly Deluxe

June 12th, 2010
10:06 am

Please, no more lip service about these fine academic institutions being committed to the “student” experience.

Everybody is making money, hand over fist, except the players.

Pi$$onaDawg

June 12th, 2010
10:16 am

Old Tennis I just don’t see Bama, Florida, UGA, and UT saying YES to Texas and Oklahoma. They want the money but not the Competition.

Pi$$onaDawg

June 12th, 2010
10:18 am

Hillbilly have you seen the cost of Tuition at these colleges? Players are getting paid. If they chose to educate themselves as PE Coaches that is their fault. Tech has a Player majoring in Aerospace engineering. I think he is getting his monies worth for sure.

Hillbilly Deluxe

June 12th, 2010
10:23 am

Dawg

How much money you reckon UGA made off Herschel? A tad more than the cost of his education, I’d guess.

Kevin S.

June 12th, 2010
12:10 pm

Jeff, I’m not sure how, exactly, Nebraska is “selling out” on any of its ideals. Does money matter? Absolutely. But the move to the Big Ten DOES put them with similar schools. It DOES improve their academic association (and membership in the CIC, the academic version of the Big Ten, is even more lucrative than the BTN payouts. Like, orders of magnitude more lucrative in terms of research grants). Selling out implies that it sacrificed academics and culture in pursuit of athletics money, and that could not be further from the truth. Nebraska gets to have its cake and eat it, too.

Kevin S.

June 12th, 2010
12:19 pm

Also, the Big Ten truly is a conference of equals. While the Big XII basically served to empower Texas, the Big Ten gives the needs of Northwestern the same consideration it does the needs of Ohio State.

Pepe Frias played here.

June 12th, 2010
12:33 pm

Six major conferences, SEC, ACC,MWC,PAC-16,BIG-16 and the BIG EAST. Six conference champions play in a NCAA playoff. I wonder, however, if they will reduce the schedule with the addition of the playoff games.

ATLBadger

June 12th, 2010
1:01 pm

Jeff – You’re at least partially wrong. Yes, athletics money is driving this. And yes, the Big Ten is not adding Nebraska because of Nebraska’s academics. BUT, a significant part of the reason why Nebraska wants to join the Big Ten, and why their chancellors and faculty are giddy about it, is because of academics. And no, it’s not really about undergraduate education. It’s about RESEARCH. The research budget of the average Big Ten university dwarfs it’s athletic department budget. The University of Wisconsin does over $800 million worth of research PER YEAR. The average Big Ten school gets more than twice as much research funding per year compared to the SEC. The Pac 10 is also full of research powerhouses that dwarf the average SEC school in terms of research funding.

Nebraska wants to be a major research university. They are already a member of the elite AAU, which is very important to the Big Ten, but they want to increase their ability to attract research funds and the best and brightest faculty and graduate students. Joining the Big Ten is one of the easiest ways to do this. It did wonders for Penn State. Nebraska will now be part of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, which includes all Big Ten universities and original member University of Chicago. The President of Nebraska is probably drooling over the new opportunities that come with this.

You’re right that this is driven by athletics. But, you’re dead wrong if you think academics don’t play a roll. The Big Ten would not have accepted Nebraska if they weren’t a AAU member with potential and desire to be a major research player. Notre Dame can get around the AAU thing because they are already an elite university. But, there’s debate there too among ND people on whether they want to stay primarily focused as an undergraduate university or really focus on becoming a major player in research. Joining the Big Ten would help them become a major player in research. And that is worth more money to a university and it’s state than athletics.

Anyways, Nebraska is giddy about joining the Big Ten for reasons far beyond athletic funds. As said above, they now get to have their cake and eat it too.