The campus mess

College football's start overshadowed by multiple scandals

Syracuse will take the field Thursday night against Wake Forest. A couple of days later, most of the rest of college football awakens, too, as LSU-Oregon and Boise State-Georgia give us the best two games in the country. So there’s reason to be excited, right?

Then you remember about the scandal at USC, the scandal at Ohio State, the scandal at North Carolina, the scandal at Miami, and no doubt I’m leaving a few dozen others out. And we could face more conference realignment, another topic of pure delight (yeah, right).

Never before has college football loomed so big in the American sports psyche. And never before has it felt so dirty and soiled to like it.

No matter where you turn, it’s brutal. How could Auburn enjoy its first national championship in 53 years when (1) everyone outside of the Plains thought Cam Newton was bought and (2) a crazed Alabama fan poisoned the famed trees at Toomer’s Corners?

Then there’s Oregon, who lost the BCS title game. It felt the NCAA fire thanks to shady payments to a shady recruitment service, giving Ducks opponents more things to hate other than their spaced-out uniforms. So they start the season with LSU, who just saw its quarterback, Jordan Jefferson, charged with a felony for an alleged role in a bar fight.

Add to it the ouster of Jim Tressel for his less-than-honest approach in Buckeye land, the ouster of Butch Davis in Chapel Hill for far worse deeds, and the cloud over Coral Gables and the U for the tales told by a jailed booster, and it’s easy to see just how deep it smells. And that’s not even mentioning the godforsaken BCS and the corruption surrounding the Fiesta Bowl.

When billions of TV dollars get poured into the Saturday-afternoon obsession of millions of Americans, you’re bound to get rules-bending and rules-breaking. So we really shouldn’t be shocked (shocked!) by the gambling in this establishment, right?

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