Let’s break out the pom-poms and embrace the pageantry of college football:
The Central Florida Knights celebrating a magical season by hanging with Mickey and Minnie for a parade at Disney World.
Bobby Petrino and Lane Kiffin doing the perp walk, marking their return into the cesspool of hypocrisy that defines the NCAA’s Mafioso cluster of schools.
Railing against the obvious double standards of the NCAA’s business model — you know, the blah-blah-blah about student athletes, education and integrity — is pretty much like spitting into the wind.
Nothing will ever change because a bunch of college football programs don’t really care about any of that stuff, no matter how much baloney they try to sell you during those 60-second promotional spots during the bowls season.
“No one program, no one person no matter how popular, no matter how successful, can be allowed to derail the soul of an institution,” SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said a few years ago at the height of the Penn State child-abuse scandal.
“Soul” is an interesting choice of words because it appears there’s a soul-for-sale sign prominently on display year after year.
You’ll see it at Louisville, the new home for Petrino, and Alabama, Kiffin’s new digs.
It’s well documented that Petrino is a big-time liar. It starts at home where he went on a “Born to Be Wild” motorcycle spin with a young mistress whom he hired at the university (friends with benefits!). A crash into a ditch literally derailed his coaching career at Arkansas in 2012.
Not to worry, Lyin’ Bobby took a minor detour at Western Kentucky before he was back on the main street, accepting a deal from Louisville.
“I’ve made mistakes. I’m going to be a better person because of it,” Petrino told ESPN’s Joe Schad in August 2012, part of a teary apologetic spin that’s standard for these kind of deals. “I really feel like I’ll be a better coach because this happened because I’m now gonna know that I’m gonna coach the person as much as the player, and help the person, when he has made mistakes.”
So it’s good to know that if any of his married players hook up with a coed and take her for a ride on a motorcycle, Bobby has his back, people!
Excuse me while I gather my composure, and try not to throw up my lunch.
Anyway, the compassionate souls at Louisville thought so much of Bobby that they gave him a seven-year contract with a base salary of $3.5 million. They conveniently forgot that he’s left three programs in eight years. My favorite was quitting on the Atlanta Falcons after just 13 games into the 2007 season. He manned up by leaving a breakup letter for his players in the locker room.
Kiffin didn’t quite get the cushy gig. He will be Nick Saban’s offensive sidekick at Alabama.
But it’s still a nice deal for someone who has left scorched earth pretty much everywhere he’s coached. Al Davis, the late owner of the Oakland Raiders, read a hand-written note to the public after firing Kiffin, filled with attaboys like “flat-out liar” and “disgrace to the organization.” Fans in Tennessee rioted and burned T-shirts when he bolted for USC. And it didn’t end well for him there either, as Kiffin was fired after getting pulled off the team bus at Los Angeles International Airport.
Of course, the common thread that Petrino and Kiffin share are excellent reputations as football minds. And obviously that’s all that matters in a competitive universe where a four-team playoff and the affiliated bowls could generate as much as $600 million per year.
It would be refreshing if the people who run college athletics would fess up and admit that winning is what matters most, and the rest of the stuff becomes just meaningless scraps. But they don’t, and they try to sell you on the Big Lie.
Speaking of, here’s Petrino again:
“I’ve made mistakes and I’m going to be a better person for it.”
I’m sobbing now. So should you.
At the unmitigated hypocrisy of it all.