You know 2009 is the the summer of NCAA violations when sports betting sites take aim at the action. In a sign as momentous as when the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed (this might be in my mind because I went to see the most epically bad movie of the summer in Year One. Seriously it’s awful.), BetUS.com laid action on which school was the most likely to receive the next NCAA violation. NCAA president Myles Brand just broke a crystal gavel in the NCAA corporate offices.
USC leads the pack at 8-1, followed by Ohio State at 9-1, Florida and Ole Miss at 10-1. I think I speak for everyone when I say that Tennessee at 14-1 is an extremely attractive option. And how in the world is Iowa also 14-1, don’t you at least have to have good players for penalties to seem likely? Or is that a subtle nod to the slow derailment that has been the Kirk Ferentz era? Regardless, I think we all know what this means, the NCAA enforcement procedure has become such a joke, that we can all have fun with teams breaking the rules. See no evil, hear no evil, fear no evil: Welcome to the 21st Century NCAA.
The Sun-Sentinel has the odds posted. I’ve included them below for your handicapping analysis.
Ohio State 9-1
Ole Miss 10-1
Florida State 12-1
Michigan State 12-1
Georgia Tech 14-1
Virginia Tech 15-1
Mississippi St. 15-1
Texas A & M 15-1
Boston College 16-1
Oklahoma State 17-1
Texas Tech 18-1
Remember back in the day when everybody feared the NCAA? Maybe I was just young and naive but I really think this used to be the case. The NCAA was a group of jack-booted thugs, you didn’t want them anywhere near your program. In the early 1980’s I remember SEC fans discussing the NCAA’s investigation of Florida Gator football with hushed tones. I didn’t even know what the NCAA was, but I knew Florida was in real trouble. Florida fans were terrified, the only two words more scary to them than “NCAA investigation” was “citrus freeze.”
On the way to Disney World that year, my dad entered into a conversation with a man wearing a Florida Gator shirt in an Ocala Wendy’s.
“You think you’re going to get the death penalty?” my dad asked. (These were in the days when Tennessee fans did not crumple into the fetal position and commence crying every time they saw a Florida Gator shirt.)
“No,” the man said, grasping his Frosty tightly in his sun-burned palm, “and let me tell you why, we self-reported the wrong-doing.” (By the way, at some point I’m going to write an article about how every fan on earth can analyze the equities of an NCAA investigation of their favorite school, but none of them can tell you who either of their United States senators are. Seriously, if you can cite relevant NCAA penalty codes on sports talk radio, but you can’t correctly distinguish between when to use you’re and your, isn’t it time to question your life?)
Dad: “We’ll see, the NCAA can be pretty tough.”
Florida fan: wide-eyed, “Oh, hell (looking down at me), excuse me, heck, they sure can.”
Then we got back into the car and my dad said, “You don’t ever want to mess with the NCAA.”
My how things have changed.
Now everyone messes with the NCAA. No one is afraid of them. Now their eternal foil, the gambling industry, is walking right up and smacking them in the nose. (By the way, is the Mike Vick “Don’t bet on it campaign,” not the perfect example of a misplaced NCAA obsession now? Mike Vick, dogfighter at large, is the spokesperson who the NCAA chose to keep us from gambling on college sports. He was gambling on dogfights at the time! But at least college football was clean.) The subtext of this prop bet? The NCAA is a bunch of pansies, and their enforcement provisions are such jokes that fans aren’t even afraid to gamble about who gets in trouble next.
We can argue about why the NCAA’s jihad against gambling is misplaced — I personally think the best way to uncover gambling is to have as valid of a line as possible so Las Vegas can detect when money swings one way or the other — but I think examples like these are unintentional tipping points that illustrate the end of the NCAA’s reign as collegiate arbiter is nigh.
In the olden days the NCAA word was law; they were Stalin ruling over Russia, their iron will and power was feared across the land. Stalin memorably said, “Death solves all problems. No man, no problem.” Ask SMU what the death penalty could do to a program. Now? Now, the NCAA is like Fidel Castro, a doddering old man sitting around on an island nation wearing a ridiculous Cuban tracksuit. Out of power, out of influence, tilting at the windmills of collegiate athletics. And consistently swinging and missing, while everyone else points and laughs.