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What We Talk About When We Talk About Winning

I cannot be the only one who thinks frequently these days of the "Pony Excess" 30 for 30 every time recruiting time rolls around. Also every time SEC homerism emerges from its hollars and backwater holes. The recent news about Auburn, on top of the Cam Newton saga, on top of the Hugh Freeze recruiting coup, on top of the Oregon recruiting juggernaut, on top of the Lane Kiffin bandwagon, on top of USC, leads me to believe that much of what is currently celebrated as winning culture in college football is nothing so much as a wink/nod return to the early 1980s, only now with a more toothless NCAA which is deathly afraid to repeat the enforcement actions that crippled SMU.

This is not a defense of Mack Brown. And I do recognize that there are some coaching and practice wrinkles that are somewhat new to the game along with enough Boise State/Air Raid anomalies to make credible arguments that coaching ability and Oakland Athletic-type counter recruiting logic can still turn out success that outpunches Rivals ranking recruiting prowess. But I grow more and more convinced that college football is once again a world where the dirty succeed at the expense of the clean.

I think it's time to face the facts and acknowledge that the NCAA lacks the wherewithal or desire or both to actually clean house. It strikes me that the best way to return to equilibrium in the college football world is to sensibly allow schools to openly pay college athletes (or at least those in serious revenue sports) in a manner that neuters the worst offenses propagated by those schools that are already doing so illicitly.

When a school whose mascot is the "Rebels" and whose name includes "Ol" next to that of a state associated in most minds with some of the most egregious acts of racial degradation ever (and certainly vestigial sharecropping in a manner that survives nowhere else in the US) reigns over recruiting then the time has come to re-evaluate things. We are in a world at least as rotten as the one that netted Eric Dickerson that Trans-Am.

These are the thoughts bothering me today. I'm not suggesting death penalty sanctions -- I think we are past the point where the vinegar can solve the problems. I'm suggesting another reason for looking at the honey. It's the same reason I'm for legalizing marijuana -- when you get to the point where the wrong-doing is so rampant that criminalizing is useless you have to look for more creative ways to contain the harm. Let's start with reasonable pay and health care.

Be excellent to each other.

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