Big Ten university presidents unwittingly allowed their colleges and their football players to be used as political props this week.
Mental note: Never try to run a scam in higher education past a guy who knows that game is so crooked he once started his own “university” to get in on the action.
College football is coming back for millions and millions of fans across the country after a month of really smart people making really stupid mistakes, and everyone has President Donald Trump to thank for saving the games. That’s how this all looks to football fans, and no one cares if that story doesn’t reflect reality.
And, please, save the bogus explanations from unnamed sources inside the Big Ten. Those hiding cowards have said enough, and their worthless leadership has damaged the integrity of their institutions and maybe weakened the entire country, too.
This past month has been a humiliating disaster for the Big Ten, which considers itself somehow morally and ethically superior to the SEC. It is not. The Big Ten is just a pompous fraud, and the league somehow managed to get hustled by a gangster while still looking like the bad guy.
Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren could teach a master class in how to be leveraged into oblivion.
With college football divided by poor leadership, and the Big Ten dealing with a public relations nightmare, it took one phone call and a tweet by Trump to scare university presidents into a corner. Trump then squeezed them like some python devouring a sacrificial rabbit. The need for a national college football commissioner for the Football Bowl Subdivision has never been more obvious.
Right or wrong, everyone in the FBS should have made the same decision together with one voice.
Why couldn’t the Big Ten and Pac-12 have just waited? What was stopping them from picking up the phone and calling SEC commissioner Greg Sankey?
Was it arrogance and hubris? Elitism? Politics? The water is muddier today than ever before, and that’s part of the problem, too. One thing is certain: claiming they shut down football for the safety of their players now makes the Big Ten look ridiculous. There is nothing safe about having to play nine football games in nine weeks during a pandemic.
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The erosion of trust in higher education over the past few years has given way to a mudslide. That’s the great upshot here for me beyond the obvious ramifications of Trump claiming a victory for all college football fans.
It’s a great thing that the Big Ten is joining this bizarre college football season after Wednesday’s decision to restart everything. League presidents originally postponed their fall season back on Aug. 11 citing safety for their players during the coronavirus pandemic. Something changed between now and then and it wasn’t the science.
Trump got involved two weeks ago. That’s what changed. No one wants to say it out loud, but Trump is the reason football is coming back in the Big Ten and elsewhere. In an election year, it was the Big Ten’s highbrow buffoons who delivered Trump some positive momentum in swing states throughout the Midwest. What a stunning accomplishment of stupidity.
Trump is going to be taking victory laps from now until November in Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan. Michigan president Mark S. Schlissel probably won’t be listing that accomplishment in the ol’ curriculum vitae, but no one is going to forget how badly all of this was bungled. Schlissel is a medical doctor by trade, but his own football coach publicly protested the decision to postpone the football season. Same with Ohio State coach Ryan Day.
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People try to downplay the importance of college football when it comes to politics, but name anything else in Ohio that can bring people together like Buckeyes football. Hating Notre Dame and Alabama, and that’s pretty much it.
It doesn’t matter if you think Trump’s politics and betrayals are the reasons the pandemic has raged on for months. Football is back to make everyone feel better, and after the hell we’ve been through that’s a seductive drug.
College football isn’t a top priority for every university president in the country, and that’s for the best, but if we’ve learned anything this past month it’s that the sport is culturally more powerful than many of the schools that field teams.
The White House knew that down cold and that place is so clueless it thinks there’s a school in Mississippi playing in the Big Ten.
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