Jim Gazzolo column: Pay no mind to that network in the control room
In the days of the Wild West you could see the old snake oil salesman coming from miles away.
He rode into town on wiggling wagon wheels being pulled by an old horse or maybe tired-looking mule.
The fast-talking gent had all the answers for what ailed the public. His remedy or solution was made of the finest medicine money could buy.
One swig and you were as good as new. Or at least that was his claim.
Funny thing, you didn’t even know you were sick before he came calling.
Now these fast talkers are back but in much nicer suits. They don’t come by wagon but rather in fancy cars and fast jets.
And they don’t peddle themselves on a dirt street in the middle of town. Nope, they do their talking in clean board rooms and on virtual calls.
Yet, just like those before them, these guys have the solution to what ails the world of college football. Once again, we didn’t even know college football was sick.
Welcome to the new game in town.
Unlike the past, however, there are only two real players at this con game — the Big Ten and Southeastern Conference. They are slugging it out for all of us to see.
Of course each has their cooperate big boss, the television network that has lined up with them. It appears Fox Sports is in one corner and ESPN is in the other.
As they crush the little guys, and don’t even think about the even littler guys, we will be left with a new way of doing business when it comes to picking the best team in the nation.
That’s fine, I guess. Some call it progress.
However, what makes these guys resemble the snake oil salesmen from before is how they talk about their product as if we don’t know any better.
Every time one of these giants gobble up a couple of new big-name teams, they continue to feed us the line about it being in the best interest of the student-athlete.
It was funny enough when the NCAA peddled that junk to us while extending seasons so that the player was less of a student and more of an athlete with each and every decision.
Now we get these guys doing the same thing.
Is it really in the best interest of the volleyball player to be forced to study on a plane instead of in their dorm room? I must have missed that.
Or how about the basketball players from Los Angeles who will find their four-game road trip goes through Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio and Indiana.
Football might be the easiest of all the travel and that is likely why it’s the sport everybody talks about. But when you make a conference go from one ocean to the other over all four time zones, you aren’t doing what is in the best interest of anybody who actually went to the school for an education.
You are giving them only a degree in being a professional athlete.
It’s really hard to say when all this got started. Maybe when Penn State joined the Big Ten or even before that, when the Arizona schools left the old Western Athletic Conference for the Pac-12.
Doesn’t really matter it’s always been about the schools and conferences chasing bigger bucks and saying it is in the name of higher education for all.
So fellas stop peddling your garbage and give us the straight talk. You are selling us on something that doesn’t exist.
We like the big games and big schools going at it, but don’t blame players for finally getting money through names, images and likeness deals, or television networks for forcing your hand.
You want all the money to yourself, great. Seems like your plan is working.
Just don’t tell us it’s for the good of the student, unless you are going to give each of your athletes a private tutor for those long plane rides.
Or let’s really think about them and give players 50 percent of the take. The snake oil guys just closed up shop and headed out of town on that thought.
To all but those who are selling this syrup, or benefiting from it, the solution resembles a possible poison for college football.
Sure, the big boys are going to get healthy but the others could be left for dead.
I wonder how they will sell that to us.
Jim Gazzolo is a freelance writer who covers McNeese State athletics for the American Press. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org