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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Kramer Talks College Football, Gaddafi

By Kramer McLuckie

Much like Muammar Gaddafi, College Football had a rough summer. As a sport rather than a man, hiding out to avoid attacks was a less feasible option. So the sports media, bored as we all are by baseball, attacked the sport like anti-regime revolutionaries all summer. The NCAA propagates an immaculate image of the college game, of student-athletes who “go pro” in something other than sports and prepare for the classroom as assiduously as they do the playing field.

Division I NCAA Football simply does not live up to that choir boy image: programs implicated in recent NCAA violation scandals include Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oregon, LSU, USC and most recently, Miami (FL). Sanctions have already been handed down to USC and Georgia Tech. North Carolina and Ohio State have both already fired their respective coaches. LSU and Miami have both suspended numerous players, including their respective starting quarterbacks. The specter of the so-called “death penalty” looms over Miami, making its first appearance since bringing down SMU in 1987. The “death penalty” for SMU banned the Mustangs from football for two seasons and included subsequent sanctions on scholarships, effectively rendering the program impotent until its recent resurgence under Coach June Jones. Amid the summer of scandal, the University of Texas and E$PN launched the Longhorn Network, which provided the excuse Texas A&M was looking for to bolt to the $E¢ (yes, cents, too).

But who really cares? My enjoyment of a game isn’t affected in the least if a booster pays for the quarterback to go to a strip club after the game, à la ponzi-schemer and Miami whistle-blower Nevin Shapiro. Even in the present maelstrom of criticism, the most thoroughly corrupt programs opened last week with thrilling games and all the pageantry and school pride fans expect. Conferences will realign, programs will break rules and the BCS will hopefully fall. Maybe even the most financially successful programs will abandon the NCAA for a more lenient self-governing body. But the fans and the players will always be there on Saturday—or Thursday, Friday, Sunday and Monday, all of which also featured college games last week. Enough of my rambling on how irrelevant the concept of amateurism is to contemporary major college athletics. There were finally some games last week, and several were, as Brent Musburger would say, “dandies.”

On Friday QB Robert Griffin III led Baylor to a landmark victory over TCU in Waco, 48-50. Griffin was a long-shot Heisman candidate before the season, but he had a breakout performance against no. 14 TCU, throwing for 359 yards and five touchdowns. Boise State’s Kellen Moore will compete with Griffin for postseason honors after posting an equally impressive high profile victory over Georgia in Atlanta. Moore threw for 261 yards and three TDs to help the no. 5 Broncos triumph over no. 19 Georgia on Saturday. Now Boise’s bowl fate is inextricably linked with Georgia’s season. The Broncos could make it to the BCS National Championship game if they stay undefeated and the Bulldogs stay in the top 25 and have a successful SEC season. That would mean wins over at least two of their toughest conference opponents:
South Carolina, Mississippi State and Florida.

Georgia is lucky to avoid LSU this season, barring a matchup in the SEC Championship game. The Tigers are looking tough after easily defeating Oregon at the Jerrydome in Arlington, TX. LSU shut down the Ducks by forcing four turnovers, returning one fumble for a touchdown. LSU has an incredibly difficult road to the BCS title game—however, they face five more ranked teams this season, all currently in the top 19. Their toughest game will definitely be at no. 3 Alabama. Don’t be surprised if the winner of that game is playing for the National Championship in January.

Also, don’t be surprised if the road to the SEC championship goes through College Station, TX in 2012, either. The Aggies are all but officially out of the Big 12, and now it appears that the SEC will need to add one more team to get to an even 14. Most anonymous people on the Internet that I just made up think the SEC will add either Missouri or West Virginia. As a Mizzou fan I’m ambivalent about the Tigers moving to what is empirically the best league in football. Sure, I would like to see the Tigers take in SEC dollars and take on the best teams in the land in Columbia. But I’m also realistic about where Mizzou is as a program. The Tigers reached the Big 12 title game twice as champions of the erstwhile North Division and both times were annihilated by BCS-bound Oklahoma Sooner teams. I hope the Big 12 survives, because it would just be too weird for Mizzou and Kansas to play the Border Showdown between games with Rutgers or South Florida. The Big 12 seems to be on its deathbed, now that rumors abound that Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have reached out to the Pac-12. In that scenario, I see Texas going Independent like Notre Dame and the Big 12’s leftovers scattering like the lost tribes of Israel. I don’t want to get too controversial on you guys, but BYU needs to be the Big 12’s messiah. I guess that would make Dan Beebe some sort of angel? Moroni or something? Anyway, enjoy this week’s Kramer Extra Premium Games: BYU at Texas, Alabama at Penn State, Mississippi State at Auburn, and South Carolina at Georgia. My Kramer’s Rules Presents the Citibank Game of the Week Brought to You By Sheboygan Lager, is of course Mizzou at Arizona State. I predict the Tigers over the Sun Devils in a squeaker, 21-20.

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