Tag Archives: NCAA

Powerhouses vs. Cupcakes

I truly get that upsets can and do happen on college football fields.

Still, it was a bit shocking to read early Saturday that Lamar University was going to take the field against Texas A&M University in a game played at Kyle Field, home of the Twelfth Man.

Why the shock?

Well, for starters, Lamar is just three years into a return to college football. It shelved the program in the 1980s over lack of money, enthusiasm and ability to win games. I was in Beaumont at the time and I remember the demise of the program.


So, to get a revenue boost for its athletic department, Lamar University scheduled the Aggies, one of the better teams in the country and the school that produced last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, Johnny “Football” Manziel.

I do not understand why schools need to overmatch themselves in this fashion. The Aggies put a serious beat-down on the Cardinals, winning 73-3.

What does a beating like that do to a college athlete’s emotional structure? I’ve never heard that issue discussed. Perhaps there ought to be some conversation about it.

I get why they play the game at the powerhouse’s home field. The visiting team gets a cut of the revenue generated and they take the money back supposedly to invest in the future. The money pays for better equipment, scholarships, those kinds of things.

I also know that — on occasion, but it’s very rare — the visiting Cupcake surprises the dickens out of the host Powerhouse. Do you recall when Appalachian State went to Ann Arbor, Mich., a couple of years ago and upset the mighty Wolverines in The Big House? It’s a rare event. To be sure, Lamar wasn’t the only college football to get hammered into the turf Saturday.  

Sure, upsets do occur. It’s also possible — although not likely — that the sun could rise in the west.

The kind of score that we saw run up against Lamar by the Aggies, however, doesn’t do much good for anyone.



Ducks facing dreaded SI jinx

I’m sweating bullets.

My University of Oregon Ducks are rated as the second-best college football team in the country, right behind Alabama’s Crimson Tide. So what happened to the Ducks this week? Their Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback, Marcus Mariota, ends up on the cover of the nation’s premier sports magazine.

Why the heavy perspiration? It’s that dreaded Sports Illustrated Cover Jinx. Players and teams fairly routinely end up on the cover — only to tank it the next time they compete.

The Ducks are facing next Thursday what looks like their most difficult opponent. They travel to Palo Alto, Calif., to take on the Stanford Cardinal, the No. 5-ranked team in the country and a team that a year ago went to the Ducks’ crib in Eugene and smashed its way to a 17-14 upset victory.

I say “smashed” because that’s the kind of football the Cardinal plays. Stanford is big, tough and it just loves to keep the football out of the other team’s hands, which for Oregon is terrible. The Ducks faced Ohio State in the Rose Bowl a couple of seasons ago and the Buckeyes beat the Ducks 26-17 by doing what Stanford is so good at doing.

I’m not going to be a Gloomy Gus here and predict the Ducks will lose next Thursday. They have been virtually unstoppable all season long. Their go-go offense has run up a lot of points on some good teams.

It’s that SI jinx, though, that has me worried. Will it bite the Ducks in their tails?

The story is quite flattering. It says the Ducks have reinvented the West Coast Offense. Mariota is considered a leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy. The Ducks just might be heading for the national championship game.

Quick, let’s hide all copies of the SI issue from the Ducks. Don’t let ’em read it.

Emphatic ‘no!’ on paying college athletes

I saw a Time magazine cover yesterday at work, with a picture of Johnny “Football” Manziel on its cover and a headline that says it’s time to pay college athletes.

I don’t need to read the article thoroughly to know I’ll disagree with it. Its premise is wrong on its face — in my humble view.

Manziel, of course, is the Texas A&M University Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback who endured a half-game suspension as his “punishment” for getting paid for autographs he signed. Manziel has become the poster boy for this ridiculous assertion that college athletes need to be paid for their services.

What utter nonsense.

They get paid already. Handsomely, too. The payment comes in the form of a free college education. Manziel is a blue-chip athlete who received a full-ride scholarship to Texas A&M. Did he get that scholarship because of his academic prowess? No. He’s being paid for his football skills, which put more than 80,000 people in the seats at Kyle Field and fills other stadiums to capacity wherever else the Aggies play football on any given Saturday.

How much would Johnny Football be paying if he wasn’t compensated? He’s pay about $8,000 annually in tuition and another $8,000 per year for room and board. I haven’t even calculated the cost of books, lab fees and other ancillary expenses that go with getting a college education.

Manziel gets paid. So do any of the scholarship athletes who compete in any college in the nation.

Pay these people? You must be kidding.

I remain wedded to the notion that student-athletes should have to toe the line. They should go to school, crack the books, study hard, work with tutors to help them get through those periods when they’re away from school participating in athletic events — and then play their guts out when the whistle sounds to start the game.

Mr. Football and his fellow scholarship athletes do not need more payment for demonstrating their athletic prowess.

Hilarious ‘punishment’ for Johnny Football

I laughed out loud a little while ago when I heard the news: Johnny “Football” Manziel will be suspended for the first half of Texas A&M’s game with Rice for breaking a rule prohibiting players from getting paid for autographs.

Why even have any punishment if that’s all he’s going to get?


Manziel won the Heisman Trophy this past season as a freshman. He’s been a sensation at College Station. Manziel may be one of the exciting football players in the past half-century.

But then he got ahead of himself, apparently, when he signed autographs and reportedly got paid for his signature. The allegations have prompted debate over whether college athletes should be paid. My view? The free college education that blue-chip athletes get at these schools is payment enough, thank you very much.

My thought was that Johnny Football would get much more of a punishment than he got. Maybe half a season. But half a game?

The NCAA enforcers cannot possibly be serious.

WT set for crucial season opener

Few times in the football history of West Texas A&M University has an opening game had as much significance as the game that’s coming up Sept. 12 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

The Buffs will take the field against Chadron State. They will have to deal with the shadow of a man who’s no longer a part of the program. Former Coach Don Carthel got canned two weeks ago over an ethics violation.

The interim coach this year will be Mike Nesbitt, who I believe could be an early-season favorite for Division II national coach of the year if he holds his team together.

Carthel’s firing couldn’t have come at a worse time. The team was finishing its preparation for a season most observers believed — maybe they still do — would be full of glory for the Buffs. I’m still uncertain as to whether the violation rose to the level of punishment that WT’s athletic department levied against Carthel. The coach took players to a baseball game, received reimbursement from the athletes and then fibbed about the timing of the reimbursement.

Boom! Like that he was gone. What’s done is done.

Nesbitt has taken over. He’s saying all the right things to local media, about how his team is “focused” and is getting ready for the season — as if he’s going to say anything to the contrary. You never hear coaches talk of turmoil upsetting team chemistry or causing emotional heartache. The stated public view is always the same: We’re soldiering on.

So we’ll see in short order whether the Buffs are as focused and dedicated to the task at hand as their coaching staff is saying. Texas A&M-Commerce comes to Kimbrough Stadium on Sept. 21 to begin the Lone Star Conference season.

The WT brass still has some explaining to do regarding Carthel’s firing. I hope it comes clean. Meanwhile, the players and the coaches who remain deserve the support of a fan base that had returned to the Buffs’ side when Carthel’s teams began winning so many football games.

It’s about pressuring others to lie at WT

West Texas A&M University President Pat O’Brien has let it be known what brought about the sudden firing of the most successful football coach in the school’s history.

Former Buffaloes Coach Don Carthel “pressured” a couple of student-athletes to lie about when they reimbursed the coach for tickets to a big-league baseball game this past summer.

Here’s what O’Brien said on a Facebook post in the past few hours:

“The issue is not the purchase of the tickets but the lying associated with the purchase. Please refer to NCAA Article 10.1. The major issue is not that Don lied but he pressured two students to lie. We are not in the business of teaching students to lie.”

Carthel issued a statement this week in which he told how he took a couple of his players to see a Texas Rangers game in Arlington while visiting the area for a Lone Star Conference “Media Day” event. The athletes repaid Carthel for the tickets after attending the game, but the coach told the WT brass the kids repaid him beforehand. I guess he asked the kids to back his story up if the brass questioned them about Carthel’s version of events.

They did and the coach is gone.

End of story, right?

Probably not. There’s got to be more “there” there. Still waiting for a full accounting of cost Carthel his job. My hope now — for the sake of the team that’s about to start its 2013 season — that it all comes out in short order.

Waiting for the other shoe to drop at WT

West Texas A&M University has dropped one of two shoes relating to the sudden firing Thursday of head football coach Don Carthel.

I guess that’s progress. Still, inquiring minds are waiting for the rest of the story.

WT dismissed Carthel on the eve of what football experts predict is going to be a highly successful season for the Buffaloes. Athletic Director Michael McBroom initially offered a lame “thank you” to Carthel for rebuilding the program. Then late Thursday came word of an NCAA infraction. I heard the word “blatant” used regarding the violation.

WT, according to McBroom, had no choice but to fire Carthel.

Carthel allegedly interfered with an NCAA investigation into some undisclosed infraction at West Texas A&M … at least that’s what I got out of McBroom’s partial “explanation.”

I understand fully the need to protect the integrity of whatever probe is ongoing here, Mr. Athletic Director, but you have a responsibility to the public that pays the freight for your program to offer a tad more detail as to what happened, who did it and when it occurred.

The timing of this firing is about as bad as it gets, with the Buffs finishing up their preseason preparation for the upcoming season. Assistant Coach Mike Nesbitt will take over as interim head coach. He’ll have his hands full keeping his players focused on game plans and the opponents they’ll face on the field.

Idle curiosity among those who are interested in the future of WT can inflict a lot of damage in the form of rumors and innuendo. WT’s brass should consider that when pondering if and/or when to drop the other shoe.

College athletes already are ‘paid’

Today’s question: Should the NCAA allow college athletes to get paid while they are in school?

Not even close. No … as in “hell no!”

The Beaumont Enterprise, where I used to work as editorial page editor, has this interesting feature in which it poses a question and then offers competing points of view. This week, the paper addressed the issue of paying college athletes.


I’m an old-fashioned guy when it comes to sports. Heck, I don’t even like the designated hitter rule, artificial turf, domed stadiums, or all the commercial signage pro golfers and race car drivers have to wear.

Thus, I believe college athletes have no compelling need to actually get paid for playing football and basketball, the two money-making sports for virtually all colleges and universities in America.

The question comes up in the wake of the Johnny “Football” Manziel matter involving whether he got paid for signing autographs while playing Heisman Trophy-winning football for Texas A&M University.

My take on it is this: Manziel already is getting paid by virtue of his receiving a fully funded college education. He, along with all blue-chip athletes, go to college with all their schoolwork paid for by scholarships, funded usually by huge endowments paid by big-time contributors. Texas A&M is among the richest universities on the planet, endowment-wise.

I prefer to see these young athletes also perform as students in the classroom, without the perk of capitalizing on their athletic skills through payoffs handed to them under the table.

I cannot predict what the NCAA will rule in the Manziel case. From my perch, it doesn’t look good for Johnny Football.

As for paying college athletes? A free college education is payment enough.

Now it’s Johnny Football?

Is there no end to the chuckleheaded behavior of noted American athletes?

New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez has been suspended by big league baseball, along with a dozen other players over allegations they took performance-enhancing drugs.

Now it’s Johnny Manziel, the Texas A&M University Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback who’s under investigation for taking money for signing autographs.


The Aggies have opened their football camp and are thought to be among the top five college football teams in the country. Manziel, aka Johnny Football, is a big reason why A&M is riding so high.

Now, though, the NCAA is said to be investigating whether Johnny Football broke one of the singularly rules of college football. Somewhere in the NCAA handbook it says athletes can’t take money for anything. The blue-chip athletes get a free college education in exchange for applying their athletic skill. Therefore, taking money – or trading on their famous name – is forbidden expressly by the rules.

Did Johnny Manziel take money or didn’t he for taking part in an autograph-signing session?

I sincerely hope the young man didn’t do it. However, I cannot help but think of the old saying about finding fire under all that smoke.