Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Rich Rodriguez Shows Us The Seamy Side of College Football

I am a native West Virginian, although don’t live in the state now. In the Mountain State the defection of WVU head football coach Rich Rodriguez to Michigan is a BIG DEAL.

Just last year Rodriguez was wooed by Alabama, but WVU came through with enough of something to keep him and cause him to reassert his love for the state that gave him his start and the university he played for and took over as head coach of in 2002. Rodriguez did well at WVU and looks to be a pretty good coach, or at least to have something going for him. Why else would Michigan come a-calling?

But after I blast Rodriguez for his ethical lapse, reneging on his deal, his cheap double-dealing, and abandoning his team right before a bowl game and taking half the coaching staff and a prize recruit with him, I have no more to say about him, and given his low character, I wonder how long before he gives Michigan the same brush off he gave WVU if greener pastures turn up somewhere else.

Try to imagine the plight of the West Virginia football team, which is to play Oklahoma in two weeks, and finds out before a practice last week that its coach is leaving them high and dry for a better deal, and taking a number of his assistants with him.

What this is really about isn’t so much the low behavior of one head coach, it is the asinine situation that exists in the NCAA where things like this can and do happen with far too much regularity. If anything, the Rodriguez affair highlights the degree to which money drives college sports, and the desire to win drives the money.

It seems to me that if the NCAA had any principles at all it would put in place a rule that prohibited any college from approaching any coach until after his or her season is over, bowl games and national championships and all, and impose heavy penalties for breaching the rule, heavy penalties meaning millions in fines and/or years of no recruiting.

It is crap like this that strengthens my opinion that inter-collegiate sports ought to be either done away with altogether, or returned to its former level of little more than an interesting contest between schools. College sports today are all too often nothing more than a money machine that creates unethical and unseemly practices, not unlike professional sports, as the ongoing steroid scandal in baseball illustrates.

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