While OJ Simpson is the perpetual poster board for the USC hammer mechanism and will breaking toss sweep of “student body” left or right, NCAA football was untarnished by the former Heisman trophy winner’s off the field freak show of a legendary reality television series now streaming on the Peacock app. When Saturday Night Live cast member Tim Meadows, back when the ala carte of comedy sketches was still funny, brilliantly portrayed the Juice as a sideline reporter ungraciously inking out “I did it” overlaying a formation photography supposedly dissecting a play, the integrity of the college game at least on superficial level, survived the onslaught of ridicule and Title IX in beckoning the billionaire modern broadcast era of television rights and golden video game emulation.
Even legacy programs Alabama, Auburn, and ironically Simpson’s alma matter, USC, slapped with strict NCAA sanctions for recruiting violations, could not deter from the momentum generated in ratings and hysteria only amplified by the inception of the deregulated internet. With the recent paramount Supreme Court decision opening the floodgates to allow athletes to be compensated from the strength of their brand, college sports are now on the verge of unprecedented volatile times, as the has will be brusquely parsed from the has beens, making OJ’s attempted escape in the white Bronco seem like ginger beer compared to Mescaline on the Hunter S. Thompson index measuring authentic brutality and condensed irreverence eliciting conflicted emotional response pairings.
The new age of pay for play, replacing the illuminati booster approach to $100 handshakes and facilitating harems of coed hostesses no more affiliated with a said institution than Andy Dick to flash mob trendiness with social media accounts on steroids and the infusion of non-fungible tokens (NFT’s) authenticated for uniquity by the blockchain and thus given instance lucrative value, marks a frenetically chaotic environment that the NCAA probably could have prevented. If only the alleged leadership of the misfiring excuse for a governing body for amateur sports had not included a stipulation that forbade scholarship athletes wanting to work, to get jobs during their respective sports season, things may be different. As for now, aforementioned powerhouse Alabama and iconic head football coach Nick Saban announced that probable starting quarterback Bryce Young will possibility exceed over $1 million in revenue from name, image and likeness (NIL) generated ventures, a stunning figure that is only the tip of the iceberg for a burgeoning industry, and the effective banishment of the term “amateur” from at least gridiron participants and men’s hoopsters. If there ever was a face of college football, Saban is the natural rendition in orchestrating sustained excellence amid the changing stream of yearly stars. And the sensible lobby says, “Good for them,” as the athletes and their amazing performances in tantalizing audiences are responsible for not only funding entire athletic departments, but complicit in the plate tectonic shift equating to Himalayan mountain ranges of cash, that until now they never were never even able to harvest a diminutive alpine pebble from.
While the football mecca of the ESPN/Southeastern conference pact has the reputation for deals so shady that one is tempted to wash their brains after processing the circulating rumors of indiscretions that may or may not include a coaching hire that was bamboozled by a scheming newspaper reporter apparently adding one or two local strippers to the payroll in providing “a dating experience” that ultimately culminated in a motel room shakedown, is light years ahead of its other FBS major brethren on a multitude of levels. As gig economy prodigy Young is in the early lead for the galactic sprint for a seat on the next Blue Origin spacism adventure, entities like the Pac-12 await the plunge into the Salton Sea donning cement shoes. At this exact intersection of position and time is where the rift forged by oblivious detachment disorder spawned by political ideology leaves the progressive regions where universities just happen to be in suspended animation, while impassioned and innovation is reserved for those who celebrate all facets of winning.
Not to signal out specific athletic departments for incompetence and the trickle down effect from ineffectual league commissioner Larry Scott, but for circumstance and shackled to the insufferably ineffective policy of Democratic lawmakers, the Pac-12 institutions other than Oregon (Phil Knight’s money), and Stanford and USC (private) are as doomed from the start as the career of an unpopular coaching hire in the bible belt. After the collective trio of governors in California, Oregon, and Washington were involved in a self-driving self-inflicted vehicle crash and fumbling with ridiculous public health proclamations in making football effectively impossible, while the rest of the nation launched the 2020 season, the entire league was simply an afterthought. Ironically, the former student athlete, who sparked the whole conversation of compensation on top of scholarships was none other than UCLA basketball legend Ed O’Bannon, which leads to the probable assumption that within the dense forest of techies, hippies and glorified societal engineers there exists a few isolated rays of sunshine.
With the writing clearly on the encrypted 64-character hash, some of the bigger names that do not wish to endure the fate of the left coast, as the frenetic cryptocurrency market threatens to attain consciousness, are planning to jump ship and go where the money is. Both Oklahoma and Texas have officially filed separation papers with the Big-12 conference and expressed their desire to join branding vortex of the SEC. The pending move will send shockwaves resounding for decades across the entire landscape of college sports in terraforming the current system into an exotic and profiting unrecognizable world. Gone will be the descriptors of the FBS and the FCS, as the vernacular pertaining to divisions will be uses to describe a convoluted and confusing system of divisions currently employed by the current framework of the European futbol system. As the alums and fanbases of middle America are more inclined to investing both money and energy into supporting football and men’s basketball, the natural expansion of the SEC into 16 teams into a megaconference, and the Big-Ten willing to morph outside its historic footprint, leaves selected coastal schools and teams from the Southwest in precarious positions which will probably result in obscurity or worse.
With the SEC boasting 339 players on 2020 NFL rosters with the Big-Ten a distant second at 253, and with the Big-12 coming in last, programs want to be under the effulgent lights of intrepid fandom, and the players can aptly sniff out the source for the highest magnitude of currency. In a realm which puts micro-celebrities on the pedestal to independent wealth as teenagers through social media, the younger generations are adverse to tradition, and realize that they can write their own rules. Thanks to the cornucopia of laissez faire ventures available in the digital expanse, with new complicated ideas being dreamed up every microsecond, culture is about to get fubar and with heads buried in the smart screen there will soon be no one there to stop it, and not a care in the world regardless.