Hart: Let's just admit that schools lower academic standards for athletes

Hart: Let's just admit that schools lower academic standards for athletes

August 3rd, 2018 by Ron Hart in Opinion Columns

NCAA college football head coach Nick Saban of Alabama speaks during the ceremony for the acceptance of the MacArthur Bowl trophy during the Southeastern Conference Media Days at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, Wednesday, July 18, 2018. (AP Photo/John Amis)

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

College football season is just around the corner. It was a mild, wet spring in the South, great for growing SEC football players.

Nick Saban at Alabama reloaded his talent and is the preseason number two again. During the recruiting season, the Discovery Channel decided to suspend "Shark Week" as the sharks were distracted watching "Nick Saban Week."

Ron Hart

Ron Hart

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

The SEC dominates college football. That doesn't look like it will end this year with Georgia ranked number one, Bama number two and Auburn number five.

Football is akin to a religious experience in the South. Psychiatrists will tell you that football satisfies the primal human thirst for war. But government goes ahead and gets us in a bunch of wars, too, just to be on the safe side. It's the modern-day "bread and circuses" to placate the citizens.

The non-SEC contender is either Clemson or Oklahoma. Oklahoma got rid of the Confederate flag and changed the names of schools named after Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee. Then it surprised everyone when it legalized marijuana, showing it would do anything to get a recruiting edge over Georgia and Bama.

College football is a great business model. Brand loyalty is built in and labor is free. If it hosted a TV signing day, I'd suggest for symbolism that it be held at Colonial Williamsburg. Coaches observe preseason practices and games from a high tower in case any players get any fancy ideas about escaping.

And while NFL players continue to damage their brand by kneeling during the national anthem, college football continues to shine. The only way a Southerner kneels during the national anthem is if his bourbon flask slips out of his sock. Southerners believe that a "silent protest" has no place outside a marriage.

In other football news, in this hyperbolic P.C. world the left has created, Papa John's Pizza founder John Schnatter just got in trouble for purportedly racist comments and had to step down. Long associated with football advertising, the pizza chain is trying to do damage control over its brand. The Papa John's lawyers even asked Peyton Manning to tone down his Southern accent until this all blows over.

I kid Peyton, who has a great sense of humor (I hope) and is a wonderful representative of the SEC. He holds many records, chief among them that he was the only player drafted in the same year by the NFL and for the Vietnam War.

To sum up the preseason rankings, aside from the perennial powers like UGA, Bama and Auburn, South Carolina and Mississippi State surprisingly cracked the top 25 this year.

Lore has it that Ole Miss redshirts Miss Americas, but the Rebels are down this year. They have yet to recover from their holy-roller coach resigning after escort phone service numbers were found on his cell phone. It was profoundly embarrassing to the SEC when a head coach in a college town like Oxford, Mississippi, had to pay women to sleep with him.

Being an SEC coach is a nonlinear job, a feast-or-famine gig. You are either making millions landing five-star athletes or, if you don't, driving fans to games in hopes of them giving you a five-star rating on Uber.

My favorite team, Vanderbilt, is academically pricing itself out of the SEC. Nashville's liberal mayor had to step down after it was discovered she was paying her lover with tax money. Now Nashville can continue its liberal trajectory by becoming a sanctuary city for bad football teams.

As a libertarian and free-market person, I am all for paying these players. If you watch "Last Chance U" (and I suggest you do), you learn that most of these kids are overwhelmed by college and the workload of football. It blurs a university's stated academic goals, is run by egghead college presidents, and structurally invites corruption. The NCAA, started in the Roosevelt era, has not seen the football since the kick off. It got so mad at UNC for cheating, it put Alcorn State on probation.

Football schools need to admit that they lower academic standards for athletes. If you are Alabama, it's hard to pretend to be an academic powerhouse when one of your most famous alumni is Forrest Gump.

Contact Ron Hart at Ron@RonaldHart.com or @RonaldHart on Twitter.

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