Last Saturday in college football will live in infamy as Paycheck Weekend, and the lasting image will be of that final score from the Horseshoe in Columbus:
Ohio State 76, Florida A&M 0.
No one had to search long for the answer to the obvious question of why such a game would ever be scheduled: Ohio State agreed to pay FAMU—among the nation’s Historically Black College and Universities— $900,000 to play. That’s really the only detail that matters, a lot more than the school-record six touchdowns the Buckeyes’ backup quarterback threw (all of which came in the first half).
Some other Saturday scores involving HBCU’s:
- Miami 77, Savannah State 7. It was so lopsided that both teams agreed to shorten the fourth quarter by three minutes (a year earlier, Savannah State went to Oklahoma State and lost 84-0, in return for a reported $375,000).
- Florida State 54, Bethune-Cookman 6.
- Western Kentucky 58, Morgan State 17.
For BCS championship game purposes, the wins by the Ohio States and Florida States over their HBCU opponents won’t count, so they are nothing more than glorified exhibitions: preseason games in a sport that doesn’t play them.
But here’s the problem. Unlike college basketball—where a HBCU has on occasion a legitimate shot of knocking off a major program—the difference in talent level between the BCS and FCS teams is enormous.
It’s such a dramatic difference that, beyond the risk of national humiliation, student-athletes could suffer a crippling injury in these “money” games.
Which brings us to the point of the existence of higher education, which is suppose to serve the students. And the existence of the NCAA, which is suppose to serve the student athletes.
Who stood up for the best interest of the student athletes on Saturday?
At a time where the debate on concussions in football debate has increased immensely (the NFL recently agreed to settle a concussion lawsuit for $765 million), one would think that the NCAA might step in and eliminate these meaningless games that only serve to fill the won-loss records of the bigger schools, and fatten the cash reserves of both institutions.
The biggest cash cows in college football don’t care about the student-athletes. These schools—who swear that giving players a fair cut of the profits would bankrupt them forever—are capable of writing checks for nearly a million dollars to buy victories and tune-ups from, basically, junior-varsity competition.
The officials at the HBCU schools that are getting trounced don’t care about the student-athletes. While their quarterbacks, running backs and receivers are offered up as target practice, they don’t hesitate to sell out the health and safety of their student-athletes by telling them to go to Tallahassee, Stillwater and elsewhere and risk national humiliation at best, and crippling injury at worst. It’s all about the money and, of course, those dollars will go to either the general fund, the rest of the athletic department and/or the officials running it all.
Shame on the elders at HBCU’s who demand that those students endanger themselves to raise money for the school. It is the most obvious, unassailable argument for the fact that athletes in the revenue sports are being exploited for their skills with nothing in return.
It’s also an argument that nobody ever raises while loudly debating the value of tattoos and autographs and jerseys and championship rings.
Simply put, Ohio State 76, FAMU 0 should have never happened, and neither should the circumstances—the pimping out of its scholarship athletes—that brought it about.
If the people who run higher education in this country give a damn about their true mission, they’ll work on finding a way to never allow fans to see such a game again.