Something’s Rotten in the State of Football

I live in what is locally known as SEC country.  No, I’m not referring to the Securities and Exchange Commission.  In these parts, SEC is synonymous with the Southeastern Conference.  And as any true sports fan can tell you, the SEC means college football.
Arguably, in recent years the SEC has been the most dominant NCAA college football conference in the country.  An SEC team has won the NCAA football championship every year since 2006 and the odds on preseason favorite to win the 2013 title for the third consecutive year is the Crimson Tide of the University of Alabama.

I would consider saying “Roll Tide! ” at this point, but my personal college sports allegiances actually reside within the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Perennially, the college footballTop Ten lists, such as the AP and Coaches polls, are dominated by SEC teams.  At the moment, five SEC teams are listed in a 2013 preseason composite listing of the top 10 college football teams.

Regrettably, there’s another less well known listing which is filled with the names of athletes who play football for SEC schools; presumably institutions of higher learning.  That would be a listing of those individuals who have been arrested on charges ranging from misdemeanors to felonies.
At the moment, the Universities of Alabama and Florida (both SEC schools) lead the nation with arrests of athletes who play football for their school’s teams.  Both Alabama and Florida have had five current players arrested during the period January through June 2013.  The University of Kentucky comes in a close second with four players running afoul of the law during the same period.  The University of Georgia and Texas A&M have each placed three players in the pokie so far this year.  I won’t belabor the point by listing those SEC schools which have had only one or two players charged.

In total, between January and June 2013, there have been 25 Southeastern Conference football players arrested on a variety of charges.

Now before you think I’m picking on the SEC, this is a problem which is plaguing college football regardless of the conference in which teams play.  So far this year, there have been a total of 76 arrests made involving college football players across the country.  In 2012, 264 college football players were arrested; in 2011 there were 226 players arrested, with 88 such arrests being made in 2010.

Equally alarming are the numbers of college basketball players being arrested each year.  Year to date in 2013, 38 college hoops players have been taken into custody for one thing or another.  In 2012, the number charged was 74.

Given the fact that the number of players on a college basketball team is a mere fraction of those found on a football roster, the arrest percentage found among college basketball players may actually dwarf that of their football playing classmates.  I just don’t have the time nor the inclination to do the necessary analysis.

So where am I going with all of these arrest statistics?  No where in particular, other than wondering aloud if this trend is the direct result of the “win at all costs” attitude which predominates these days in college sports; particularly within the big conferences such as the SEC, the Big Ten, and the PAC 12.

After all when coaches, who have posted winning records for multiple seasons and are 9-2 during the current season, feel that they’re in jeopardy of losing their jobs – it just seems to me that there’s something badly out of balance.  Is it any wonder that they recruit and play anyone, regardless of past or present behavioral issues, who they believe can help their team win?

Here’s to simpler times.

Rickety Rack, Rickety Rack – Go State!


Arrest statistics available at:
Photo credit: sunsurfr Foter CC BY-NC-SA
Photo credit: The.Comedian / Foter / CC BY-NC




“And the Envelope, Please . . . . “

I was just watching Pardon the Interruption, the ESPN sports show featuring the opinions and views of sports writers Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon on just about every important sports story of the day.

I’ve channel surfed past this show countless times as I searched for something worth watching during those nebulous minutes which are wedged in between the end of the work day and TV-land’s mythical “prime time”.

Momentary pauses to watch the program for a few seconds have, over time, grown into longer and more frequent viewings.  Along the way, I’ve come to recognize that Pardon the Interruption may well be an acquired taste.  It has only been within the past few months that I’ve come to truly appreciate the show’s worthiness as an entertaining source of sports information and topical updates.
Texas A M Johnny Football 1
One of the highlights of this evening’s program were the back-to-back interviews with Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel (aka Johnny Football) and Notre Dame’s Mantei Te’o, two of the leading candidates for this season’s Heisman trophy, presented annually to the most outstanding player in collegiate football.
It was so refreshing to watch two such unassuming young men represent themselves, as well as their teams, with genuine humbleness and gratitude for the opportunity.  They both demonstrated understated dignity during their respective interviews, a trait totally lost on far too many of today’s predominant college and professional athletes.

I don’t really have a favorite in this year’s Heisman Trophy race; I rarely do.  But I rest assured that either of these young men will be worthy recipients if the award happens to come their way on Saturday night.  On second thought, I hope that the nod goes to the senior, Mantei Te’o.  As a freshman, Manziel has three more opportunities to pick one up.

In the meantime, I applaud Kornheiser and Wilbon for their interviews of these two young men.