In the 1932 film “Horse Feathers,” Groucho Marx — in the role of Huxley College’s new president, Professor Quincy Adams Wagstaff — reaches a conclusion: “The trouble is we’re neglecting football for education!”
Last week, following allegations he’d made racist comments, University of Iowa football conditioning coach Chris Doyle resigned to the tune of a $1.1 million buyout. A conditioning coach paid $1.1 million in severance.
Where do we apply to be fired?
Iowa, in large part funded by the state, in recent years has been in bad financial shape. The pandemic added to that. In March, the state’s unemployment totals rose from 49,300 to 63,500. The numbers for April and May are fully expected to grow.
Prior to the pandemic, the college was bleeding money. From a 2018 report in the Iowa City Press-Citizen:
“This September, the institution’s leaders are expected to ask for more support from Iowan politicians.
“Citing a need for reliable funding, a proposal set to be reviewed by the Iowa Board of Regents this month asks for $7 million more in state appropriations for the general education fund next school year. The request comes after consecutive midyear budget cuts sparked university officials to halt construction and shutter long-running centers on campus.
“State appropriations make up around 29 percent of the UI’s general education fund, which sits at around $745 million this school year.”
But there’s nothing unique here. You may not have enough money to heat the dorms or light the classrooms, educate the students or even pay the custodians, but there are always piles of money for football and basketball — even $1.1 million for a conditioning coach to leave.
And now let’s pay the athletes! With what? From where? Granting them a full ride and six years to graduate is not enough. After all, they were recruited to play ball. To leave with a legit college education would be incidental and accidental.
Meanwhile, the NFL and NBA, are now overwhelmed by players whose communicative, financial and social skills make it impossible to believe they attended college let alone matriculated.
That’s not an opinion, that’s an almost daily, demonstrable fact.
And Iowa is now more the rule than the exception. Rutgers, a state school, is in the process of laying off or furloughing more than 450 academicians, secretaries and maintenance workers. Yet tens of millions continue to be thrown — and lost — at RU’s football team.
Last week, Rutgers launched an online fundraiser. Not for financial relief of students or furloughed and laid-off employees, but for the athletic department.
Still, as the unemployment totals in nearly every state swell, the highest paid state employees, by millions, continue to be Division I college football and basketball coaches. Those who attend college in pursuit of an education — those who should be the top and perhaps only priority — become also-rans, finishing out of the money.
And if you’re recruited from the mean streets and you don’t make it as a pro, you’re returned, uneducated, to that hopeless scene. Where college students are expected to grow after graduating college, those exploited to win ballgames have peaked at 22 or 23.
And why do the same 40 or so colleges annually recruit or produce criminals? Coincidence? No reason to change if there’s no authority to demand change.
I’ve written this before and I firmly believe it: D-I schools and their presidents could not successfully defend racketeering charges.
Selfish players showing no sight of the big picture
New cookbook out: “Recipes for Disaster,” subtitled, “What If People Aren’t Bluffing?”
If even 20 percent of those who email this column to claim they’re done with sports due to all the insanity — politics, greed, arrests and absence of strong leadership — that surround MLB, the NFL and NBA aren’t kidding, and they represent a nationwide conviction of 20 percent, that’s a ton.
But they’ll still be taken for granted.
For example, is there no one close enough to Jamal Adams to tell him that it’s not all about him? That folks have other things to worry about, especially now, than how many more millions he’ll be paid or where he’ll next play? Does he think his public threats and gripes increase his popularity, his respect rating?
Kyrie Irving is so unhappy he provides daily updates. We have to suffer the laments of stand-and-pose Bryce Harper?
The public’s unconditional devotion to sports is losing out to current conditions. To continue to take that devotion for granted could be fatal.
The Cancel Culture has gotten one right. It still seems impossible, given that in 1996 she was suspended by MLB for making open-air N-worded racist and pro-Hitler anti-Semitic remarks, but Cincinnati’s St. Ursula Academy named a science wing and a stadium for Reds’ owner Marge Schott. Her name will soon be removed.
The University of Cincinnati may be next. Led by the urgings of black UC pitcher Nathan Moore and Jewish UC grad and former major leaguer Kevin Youkilis, UC’s “Marge Schott Stadium” also may be renamed.
Francesa delivers special McCartney B-day tale
Given that Mike Francesa is an inveterate name-dropper and braggart, I don’t know how he didn’t find time to tell us before, but Thursday, Paul McCartney’s 78th birthday, Francesa recalled when he was asked to be seated besides McCartney at a Knicks game. At halftime, said Francesa, McCartney asked him to pose for a picture with him because his wife, from Long Island, is a big Francesa fan.
Thursday, he decided to finally share that story — as if he wouldn’t have boasted about it the next day.
How to have your cable system return your call: Reader John Myers sent back an invoice on which he wrote, “No payment will be sent until I receive a call from customer service.” A service rep soon called.
Hey, HBO! How about rebroadcasting that two-episode 1991 baseball classic, “When It Was A Game.” Still surpasses special.
With the June 10 death of 17-year big-leaguer Claudell Washington, reader Doug Bader recalls that Washington was known for careless defense: “As a visiting player, he returned to play right field against the White Sox in Comiskey, where someone in the nearby bleachers displayed a sign that read, ‘Washington Slept Here.’ ”
If MLB resumes, which ball will Rob Manfred choose? The regular baseball or the records-smashing home runs or strikeouts ball?
Reader Ben Greenberg on the proposal to have MLB teams wear corporate ads on their uniforms: “Will the Astros be sponsored by Enron?”
So I ask my uncle, “Is it pronounced Hawaii or Hav-I-ee?” He says it’s “Hav-I-ee.” I say, “Thank you.” He says, “You’re vel-com.”
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