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It?s all about the money.

by Mickey Charles

There is no other way to describe the college football bowl frenzy that has swept this nation for the last decade, and longer. Why was there such unhappiness with just the Sugar, Cotton, Rose and Orange Bowls? Why the necessity to graduate, pun intended, to 32 Bowl Games in 2006-07? It?s all about the money.

In a world of collegiate sports, where academics have been, for the most part, placed ?on hold,? where the studious and pedantic are no longer in vogue, the alumni with public companies have stepped up to the stage for the sheepskin that says ?conference champion? instead of PhD. There is an imbalance in evidence and the tens of thousands that fill the stands every weekend and have done so throughout this obsession and fanaticism, do not give a twit. Just provide them with a winner. How little to ask as a break from studies?for the fans, not the athletes. Statistically speaking, in a collection of coaches, a pompous pastiche of less than professorial talents, a potpourri of gridiron goulash, we have mentors out there earning millions of dollars annually with one goal in mind?more W?s than L?s, lots more, by season?s end. That, of course, is followed by a bowl bid. There are men, predecessors to the current crop, that would have paid the universities for the privilege of coaching the football team, teachers and molders of athletes for whom dollars paid to them was secondary. That attitude, of course, went out about the same time that the TV control came into use and no one had to get up any longer to change the channel.

Some respected research analysts have estimated that, by the year 2010, with over 50 percent of all Division I college football teams already involved in a bowl game, regardless of their respective records, the only conference whose charter will not permit participation will be the Ivy League. There will be some 540 corporate sponsors vying for contests at which to throw advertising, sponsorship and marketing dollars.

You think not? Really. Presently, right now, this year, there are 32 bowl and five all-star games. Are many schools competing for the fantasized prestige that will give them air time and an opportunity to entice some high school products to head for their campus? Of course. Why else do this when the conferences of the New Orleans Bowl participants receive and share in the $325,000, the Papajohns.com Bowl $300,000, Hawaii Bowl participants $398,000 and one would have to safely determine that Arizona State, which played Hawaii in that game, spent incredibly more than what they ?earned? to get there, including the free leis and pineapples given to them upon arrival and departure.

Jim Tressel
Ohio State coach Jim Tressel has his Buckeyes in the Championship Game for the second time in five seasons.

On the other hand, the BCS bowl game schools are the recipients of $17,000,000 each for their respective conferences. Are these really institutions of higher learning or longer hang time; the scholarly or the free safety; pupils and pundits or place-kickers; philosophers or fullbacks; 4.0 GPA or running the 40 in 4.1? The big bucks are handed out at the Sugar, Orange, Fiesta, Rose and Championship Game. Most of the time the money goes to support the football program and all the other sports that do not have the funding to continue, certainly not within the parameters and guidelines that have become pro forma today. And, in order to keep them, the universities and colleges must call upon those that don helmets, shoulder pads, and all the other paraphernalia designed to protect them from serious damage every weekend of the football season.

Besides, where would Nike, and sometimes Reebok, send all those uniforms with their logos?

But, if a player is found using the phone in the Athletic Director or Sports Information Director?s office to call home and talk to his mother instead of paying for a long distance call, the NCAA is more than ready to suspend him under rulings that are as archaic as recently discovered Egyptian ruins. Hello! It?s all about the money. Why the double standard and total disregard, feigned blindness to the reality of college sports, primarily football followed by basketball, being big business? Coach a major college team and your salary is seven figures, you do not have to teach any other classes, you go on recruiting trips in first class style, you have an expense account that would be the envy of any Fortune 500 executive or Board member, you can negotiate for a home right off campus, your kids get a free ride at the school when they are ready, speaking engagement monies are yours to keep and some, - ready for this? ? get as much as $1 million to ensure that their players wear a certain manufacturer?s gear.

It?s all about the money.

Are the games enjoyable, is the product worth the expense, will Florida and Ohio State really produce an acceptable college champion this year, is the BCS system actually a lot of nonsense and shouldn?t there be a playoff system instead? Does anyone in college really care, from alumni and administration to coaches and players? Not likely. The only ones not getting paid with the likeness of past presidents on green pieces of paper are the players who are bringing in the big bucks, the ones without antlers. Yes, there are good games, great ones, super talents out there, excitement, camaraderie, and all the fanfare that makes Saturday afternoon a respite from study halls.

Make no mistake about it, through the cheering, jeering, fight songs and claims of superiority over all rivals?it is a business, a sport turned corporate, a m?lange of contests over the holidays and into the new year that will all come down to just one?the Buckeyes against the Gators in Glendale, Arizona on January 8th at 8:30 p.m. EST. And Tostitos will have its employees working overtime to produce enough chips to pick up their share of the expenses associated with this collegiate football extravaganza, the Academy Awards of the season.

Boil it all down to a common denominator and, you gotta be kidding me?it?s all about the money!

You gotta be kidding!