Sunday, June 28, 2009

“Ciphering” Who Wins at Football

By Individualist (
“The Purpose of government is to limit the needs of its citizens from the involvement of the government.”

Hello Sports Fans and welcome. Today we go to a special place. A weird and wacky place where Politics meets Football that is. Who is the “winningest” (in Sports Bars around the nation that is a technical term) Football Coach of all time Joe Paterno of Penn State University or Bobby Bowden of Florida State. This should be a simple thing that even Jethro Bodine of the Beverly Hillbillies could cipher.

Yet even as we speak today this is evidently something that must be drawn out in court of law with many thousands of dollars of tax payer money spent on lawyers, experts and who knows maybe even Rocket Scientists and Double Knot spies before they are through arguing so we may need Jethro’s help after all.

The controversy surrounds cheating in an online music history course in the fall of 2006 and the spring and summer of 2007 by several athletes not just in the football team but in many other sports as well. In all the staffers running the course helped 61 student athletes to cheat including allowing someone else to take one of the individual’s exams. Since 30% of the football team or around 25 players were involved and 11 of them starters this was a major problem for the NCAA to deal with. The cheating was uncovered when a single student athlete complained about another student being given answers to the test at the end of the 2007 year. Since many of the players might not had been eligible to play under NCAA rules it was decided that scholarships would be lost, students would be banned from bowl games and the thrust of the controversy, wins would be vacated. This is in all the sports not just football.

This is the real issue for FSU since Bobby Bowden is now one game away from outscoring Joe Paterno of Penn State in the greatest number of games won in Division 1A football. As it stands now Jopa as he is lovingly known to his fans has 383 wins while Papa Nole of FSU has 382. Given the winning rates of the schools it is very likely Bobby Bowden could overtake the Nittany Lion King. The vacation of 14 games by the NCAA however will make such an eventuality impossible.

So naturally FSU has appealed the ruling stating that they believed it to be unfair. The final verdict of the appeal has come back and the vacation of the wins stands. This means that FSU does not get credit for the wins but it does not mean the losing college will gain a win. The school is claiming that Coach Bowden is being unfairly punished for actions by other individuals for which he had no knowledge.

The FSU President is TK Wetherell is a former alumnus and FSU football player himself. According to Brent Kallestad of the associated Press in “NCAA intends to take away Florida State victories” TK Wetherell stated:

“This committee is just wrong. The rationale for doing that isn’t accurate.”

“There was no coach involved in this. The one group of people that were not involved in this thing were the coaches. They’re the one group that’s being penalized.”

“He wanted a “Blue Ribbon Commission” set up to evaluate the policy of vacating wins suspending the NCAA from enacting the punishment until the findings were released. This was denied in March of 2008. He also stated that the school would exhaust all appeal opportunities with the NCAA ‘before going anywhere else.’ ”

The appeal has been denied.

Where else is there to go except a law suit. However before we even get there we already have the media suing both FSU and the NCAA to force them to release the actual letter with their ruling which is held secret since the names of college students involved are listed. Currently the letter was retyped redacting the names. Florida has a public records law called the Sunshine Law here in the state that requires government agencies and taxpayer sponsored entities to release all minutes of meetings and public documents. I find it ludicrous that taxpayer dollars are being spent over whether a retyped document is not the same as a photocopy. The US congress has recently passed bills spending trillions with less scrutiny.

Do we have anything better to do with taxpayer money? Budget cuts enacted this year in education due to the weakening economy has cut classes and has increased college fees. I think that even Jethro Bodine and his vaunted sixth grade education can figure that one out

At the end of the day I wonder what value is there on the NCAA sanctioning of wins. I mean it is not like there is an official number. The “winningest” coach in football is an honorific that is given by the effect of the alcohol in the beer that has been consumed at the sports bar and not the striking of the gavel to conclude a pronouncement of some judge. Perhaps there will be a plaque at the Hall of Fame but even still if Bowden did win and the number of games posted did exceed Jopa, there would at the least be an asterisk by the number. The idea that we are spending taxpayer money and wasting the courts time to obtain some pronouncement that the fans at Hooters are going to discount or accept based upon their school affiliation anyways is probably a very good example of why this country is facing the deficits that it does.

The irony is that if we include all divisions John Gagliardi, Carroll College/St. John's College (Division III) has 461 wins and Eddie Robinson, Grambling State (Division III) had 408 when he retired. Just to add one more fact to muddy up the conversation at the sports bar.

I think Granny needs to start chasing TK Wetherell and these big city lawyers around with her shotgun.

But let us see what others have to say. According to Ray McNulty of the Scripps Howard News Service the NCAA is overstepping their bounds at the suggestion of academic corruption in sports.

“In reality, though, what happened in Tallahassee is just further proof that the joint pursuit of serious academics and big-time athletics is, across too much of our college sports landscape, a bad joke. And, for all its mock outrage, the NCAA knows it.”

Again from BRENT KALLESTAD article referenced above, Bobby Bowden had this to say on the subject.

“Joe, who I love to death, he and I got a battle that neither one of us thought would ever happen,” Bowden told WBRC-TV in Birmingham after a round of golf Thursday. “Joe would not want to win this thing the way they (NCAA) are doing this.”

In this case we have Bowden trying to ferret out what Jopa is thinking and predict what he would do in this situation. This is what I know of Joe Paterno. He is considered by Penn State fans to be the patron saint of football and he is held in high regard. I have a lot of respect for coach Bowden and have family members that are alumni of FSU. I say this as someone who has attended the University of Florida myself and I assure you I am not being facetious. He is a great coach and has done great things but I feel that there is no coach in football today that matches Joe Paterno because of his commitment to education. In 1966 when he was hired Joe Paterno brought with him an idea to incorporate academics and athletics from Brown College that he called “the Grand Experiment”.

According to Jeff Nelson of in 2008 Penn State had 55 football squad members earn a 3.0 GPA or higher, 36 made the Dean’s list among the fall and spring semesters and the senior tackle Gerald Cadogan had a 4.0 GPA. Fifteen of the 36 had a GPA greater than 3.7. Mr. McNulty I guess Penn State is an exception to this rule isn’t it.

Penn State graduates 78% of its players in 2008, tying it for 9th place among all colleges. In contrast FSU graduates 69% making it 24th. African American players who play for Penn state have a GSR of 77% as opposed to the 58% GSR for Blacks which is the National Average. So the liberal excuse that Penn State is discriminating against poor blacks in favor of white kids from privileged neighborhoods cannot be applied here. Joe Paterno in this regard was like the Nuns back in the day at the Catholic school I went to in South Carolina that had a student ratio of 50% non Catholic black children. They did not care who you were, they were equally tough to everybody to force students to learn. And God Bless them for it.

But of even more significance are the Academic Progress Rates which the NCAA utilizes to measure not only simply gaining a diploma but how well the student athletes are performing. Penn State had an APR for Football Players in 2008 of 976 ranking the school in the 80th to 90th percentiles among football and 60th to 70th among all sports. FSU had an APR in 2008 of 932 which was in the 40th to 50th percentile among the sport of Football and 10 to 20th among all sports.

So in conclusion Ray McNulty states that academics and football are a joke yet Jopa manages to not only see that the athletes pass they excel. Bobby Bowden states Joe would not win this way and the FSU President states Bowden had no idea that one third of his team were cheats. Even if we accept that statement at face value it misses the point. The point is that Jopa would never be in that situation because as head coach he takes care to know what the academic progress of his athletes are and ensures that they work so as to not need to cheat. It is for this reason that I think Joe Paterno has earned the title of “the Patron Saint of Football”.

But fear not there is hope for Bobby Bowden. He is speculating as to what Joe Paterno thinks on these subjects and is trying to decipher his actions in the situation. In this regard he is asking the correct question, WWJD.

What Would Jopa Do?

As for ole Indy I feel that even if Joe Paterno were to be second to Bobby Bowden in total number of wins but by less than the 14 games in question that this might be in the end a better metaphor for his career than to win outright. It would tell the story that Joe Paterno’s dedication to the education of his student’s was such that it cost him this title. In this way it would show what Joe Paterno’s priorities actually were; Education First, then Football.

Now those priorities are a down home kind of wisdom that Jed Clampett would certainly approve.

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