Wait...Duke is in the ACC Championship?

If you are anything like me, that headline isn't overly shocking. Duke is always in they ACC Championship. What's that? Not in Basketball? Oh, we'll then surely you are talking about lacrosse? FOOTBALL?? Duke is playing for the ACC Championship of football?

Yes folks. On Saturday The Duke Blue Devils will play the Florida State Seminoles for the ACC title. The day we all thought would never come, is here. Duke's football program is no longer a laughingstock. Hell has indeed frozen over.  

Growing up in NC, there were 3 things you could always count on: 1. Andy Griffith reruns on channel 2 at 5:30pm everyday (I'm pretty certain this is still the case). 2. At any given moment you were no more than 5 miles away from a Bojangles or a Biscuitville. 3. Duke's football team was gonna suck. 

Consider this. In the past 20 years Duke has had 6 seasons in which they had 1 or fewer wins. That's kind of remarkable considering colleges use their non conference schedules purely to pay teams to lose to them.  I remember there was a time ruling the early 2000s when my Alma mater, NC A&T seriously wanted to play Duke. Not because we needed the money(hint; we did). But because we thought we could legitimately beat them. And we probably could have. 

But no more are those days. Duke has a shot on Saturday to shock the world. If they beat Florida State, not only will they play in the Orange Bowl, but they will knock Florida State out of the National Championship game. It would be huge. Forget that Duke is 0-18 all time versus Florida State. Forget that Duke is 30 point underdogs going into Saturdays game. NC is behind you Duke. 

Now, will this happen? Of course not. Florida State will likely beat the shit out of Duke and go on to lose in the National Championship Game to whichever SEC team screws Ohio State out of the title shot. Isn't college football great? 

 

Grambling's Problems Are Bigger Than Football

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If you haven't been following along, there is at dire situation going on a Grambling State University. Amid  a crippling budget crisis that has rendered facilities and equipment unplayable, the football team boycotted practicing last week and even forfeited last Saturday's game with Jackson State.  Among the issues the players have raised with the administration:

The players' letter says "there are certain factors that are hindering us from reaching our goals" and then elaborates on many of them.

The athletic complex "is in horrible condition, and has many hazards that may contribute to our overall health," the letter says. "First, the complex is filled with mildew and mold. Mildew and mold can be seen on the ceiling, walls and floor, and are contributing to water leaks because of faltering walls and ceilings."

As has been reported before, the players say that the floor is coming up in the weight room, but the letter also asks that the university supply better detergent for uniforms.

"The uniforms are poorly cleaned and contribute to the multiple cases (of) staph infection," the letter reads. "Several players have been infected with staph multiple times."

ESPN

This is a situation in which no one wins.  It's a huge embarrassment on the University to have conditions so poor that the players would rather not play. And it hurts the players because they aren't getting to play the game they came to Grambling to play and it raises an issue of their scholarships potentially being rescinded.  

But the problems that face Grambling are much bigger than what's taking place on the football field.  HBCUs have historically been grossly underfunded. Many HBCUs in recent years have faced budget crises that have resulted in loss of accreditation, most famously Morris Brown College.

What causes these budget crises? Numerous things. Poor management by the administration. Poor enrollment. Poor alumni donations (as an alumnus of an HBCU, I am also guilty of not donating money since graduating. None of us are perfect. Don't judge me.) 

In the case of Grambling, all of these things probably factor in to the problem in some way.  But a major factor is this: 

Sutton (University Spokesman) specified that the 57 percent cut in state funding, which has occurred over the past several years, has affected the entire campus, and that athletics was spared significant cuts until this academic year. The athletic department was asked to cut $335,000 from its overall department budget of $6.8 million. Sutton said football was cut by $75,000 to about $2 million.

$2 million isn't enough to run a fantasy football league much less a Division 1 football program. The fact is HBCUs operate on a fraction of the budgets of larger universities.  

Listed below are the 10 Top University Endowments In The Country for 2012: 

  1. Harvard University - $30.435 Billion

    Yale University - $19.345  Billion

    University of Texas System (system-wide) - $18.264 Billion

    Stanford University - $17.036 Billion

    Princeton University - $16.954 Billion

    Massachusetts Institute of   Technology - $10.150 Billion

    University of Michigan - $7.691 Billion

    Columbia University - $7.654 Billion

    Texas A&M University System (system-wide) - $7.639 Billion

    Northwestern University - $7.119 Billion

What was Grambling University's Endowment for 2012? $4.5 Million. Yes. Million. Even the HBCU with the Highest Endowment, Howard University at $460 Million, operates on a fraction of what the top tier universities in the country do.

The football players at Grambling are just gonna have to come to grips with a brutal reality. If they want to take part in the tradition of Grambling Football, they will have to make do with less. At the same time, I understand the university's budget plight. Neither side is right or wrong here. None of us win in this. But simply clean up the mold, get these kids back to playing and maybe we won't all lose so publicly.


 

 

 

Can I Not Care About Athletes Selling Autographs Please?

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Apparently it's that time of the year again, ladies and gentlemen. It's time for the annual dance we are told we have to perform; I call it The Let's All Pretend We are Shocked That a College Athlete Is Profiting From His Fame Shimmy. And boy are we getting good at it. Every year a story will come out where it is revealed that a college athlete has received money, tattoos or some other benefit and we all get on our high horses and demand justice.

This year it's Texas A&M's Heisman Award winning QB Johnny Manziel's turn. Johnny Football, as he's otherwise known, has been accused of accepting payment for autographs.  While I admit this is a clear violation of the NCAA amateur rules and Johnny Football was well aware of these rules, I have to ask the question; Do any of us really care?

When it comes to hypocrisy, there may be no institution that displays a greater amount of blatant hypocrisy than the NCAA. We are talking about an organization that takes in HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of dollars a year profiting from student athletes while the students are not allowed to profit in anyway from their athletic ability.

Right or wrong, the system is the system.  Johnny Football broke a rule. A dumb rule. But he broke it nonetheless.  And guess what, I really don't care. Not at all. I can't seem to muster up enough energy to care that he benefited from his own success.  Nor did I care that Terrell Pryor got some free tattoos. Nor did I care that Reggie Bush received benefits.

It's ridiculous to think that these kids who are celebrities in these communities will not get preferential treatment from fans, boosters and unfortunately people who don't have their best interests in mind.  It's just the reality of the business of college football.  

Johnny Football does appear to be a cocky arrogant kid. But so what? You mean a 20 year old star QB at a prominent college football program is a little full of himself? Oh the humanity! Hate him all you want, if he wants to make a little scratch from his autograph, I just completely don't care. If you want to wring you hands and crucify him for it, feel free. But I'm willing to bet you don't really care either.