For the really serious college football fan summer is only a time that provides a calm period before the real fun begins again. We feed ourselves clips from season’s past and read blogs and posts about our favorite team. I get several posts a day from sources related to the University of Alabama Crimson Tide football team. I couldn't wait for the season to begin on September 5 with the greatest early match-up of them—two top ten teams: Alabama vs. Virginia Tech in the Georgia Dome. (I wrote about the game in a blog on September 5.) The place was filled with incredible energy. I had to settle for the television that evening but it was fun and I've even watched the game again on my DVR.
Some of my friends have taken note of the recent NCAA ruling against Alabama athletics (in general) for violation of a textbook policy. In short, scholarship athletes were getting text books that they should not have gotten under NCAA rules. Some may have abused this privilege and sold these books. Others got them for friends. Most did not abuse the situation but they did take advantage of it. The real problem was a lack of control in the overall way these books were accounted for internally.
The penalty included the NCAA forcing Alabama’s football team to “vacate” 21 victories in 2005, ‘06 and ‘07. I have wondered, like many fans, what does it mean to “vacate” a football victory? Does this mean Brodie Croyle, the quarterback did not pass for 275 yards in the Cotton Bowl to beat Texas Tech in 2006? Does it mean that Tyrone Prothro, who won the ESPN award (called the ESPY) for the best play in college football one year never caught the ball behind a defenders back (as can be seen in the photograph)?
Now try to get this straight. Alabama did not actually win 21 games they won and these are not forfeits. The other team cannot now say they won and Alabama cannot now say they won. It is as if the games were never played. Tell that to the players who played and the fans who watched. (By the way, this means Mike Shula (who was 26-23 on the field as head coach) was really 10-23, not 10-39! If you are confused so am I.
What kind of ruling is this anyway? Answer: It is a superficial gesture, the kind of punishment that means very little, in fact so little it amounts to next to nothing. If the NCAA really thought Alabama had done something truly terrible why didn’t they take something away that hurt them in the coming season or two? The NCAA did not penalize Alabama’s present, just their past. This really tells me the NCAA did not believe much really happened of huge importance to football here.
One writer commented: “But do either the players or the fans actually believe that a decree by the NCAA really changes what happened on the field? We all know what the scores were. You can deny the sky is blue, strike any mention of it from every book on the planet, and the sky will still be blue.” The NCAA seems to be saying these games didn’t happen unless we say they happened.
You don’t even have to be a football fan to see how modern, and dumb, this logic really is. It has a weird postmodern fell to it. (I couldn’t pass on that one if I want to convince you how much this matters, or as is the real case, doesn’t matter.)
Come to think of it Tyrone Prothro, who made that unbelievable catch you see in the photo above would love to have this all removed as if it never happened. If it didn’t happen maybe ESPN should ask for the award to be given back. But if this is true then Prothro’s game ending injury, which later almost took his life, did not happen either. If this is true then this very talented player would be in the NFL today, not out of football altogether. One sports writer rightly concluded: “But life doesn’t work that way. . . . not even in college football.”