Season on the Brink

Send lawyers, guns, and money/ The shit has hit the fan

So, the Big Ten, a week after putting out a well reasoned and seemingly possible to effectuate schedule, went all Bo and Woody.

It punted on 3d & long.

Like a loyal puppy, joined at the bowl of roses, the PAC-12 soon followed.

Oh, it’s easy to be cute, or try to, as the competing forces of Athletics vs. Academics battle it out with COVID 19 wearing the striped shirts. Or, some nonsensical attempt at a metaphor/ analogy like that.

So, given that the ACC, Big 12 and SEC are trying to figure out a way to play this autumn, and college football is getting nary a smidge of direction from the NCAA — as if that not so august body has much sway over the sport anyway — it all seems a bit rudderless, right?

My mind, longing for an onside kick with less than a minute to play and the battle in the balance, has veered off in several directions.

 * * * * *

I’m into the cinema. Thus here’s the first thing I thought of when the Big Ten cut bait, with The Ohio State University kicking and screaming along.

Ron Patimkin, Ali McGraw’s brother in the film adaption of Philip Roth’s “Goodbye Columbus,” daydreaming wistfully into the middle distance while listening to an LP that was part of the yearbook, heralding the school year, including his days as a Buckeye athlete.

The Voice, “bowel-deep and historic,” writes Roth:

The year, 1956. The season, fall. The place, Ohio State University . . . The leaves had begun to turn and redden on the trees. Smoky fires line Fraternity Row, as pledges rake the leaves and turn them to a misty haze. Old faces greet new ones, new faces meet old, and another year has begun . . . the place, the banks of the Olentangy . . . 

I always loved that scene for a number of reasons, not the least of which because my brother had one of those records from a year at Vandy, which I listened to when I was young, fantasizing what college life would be like.

The Voice continues,

We offer ourselves to you then, world, and come at you in search of Life. And to you, Ohio State, to you Columbus, we say thank you, thank you and goodbye. We will miss you, in the fall, in the winter, in the spring, but some day we shall return. Till then, goodbye, Ohio State, goodbye, red and white, goodbye, Columbus . . . goodbye, Columbus . . .  goodbye . . .

As much as I cherish that scene, and evocative movie, I have no great love for the school.

But, my oh my, is the absence of Buckeye football on a crisp autumn Saturday a monument to our current peril?

  * * * * *

The other musing that came to mind when the two leagues announced they were opting out hasn’t been mentioned much.

It’s the devil’s bargain many, probably most school presidents feel they’ve made. What Big Time Athletics and the mega-money involved has become for those academics, a necessary appendage, a tumor too large to be excised.

While the decision to wait to spring is prudent and reasonable, my belief is there was the undercurrent of “Ahem, Scott Frost, Ryan Day, we’re in charge here, not you.”

My mind also went back to David Boren, the former senator and then powerful president at Oklahoma, and how it must have rankled him when Howard Schnellenberger declared himself, “Supreme Commander, Sooner Nation.”

We know who laughed last in that situation.

 * * * * *

So, if I might actually address the situation rather than flitter off into the recesses of my addled mind, what are we to make of this mess?

Will the fans along the eastern seaboard, in Dreamland BBQ country, and in the Plains of America really get fall football?

Which would delight denizens of Pigskin Planet, not to mention the sports networks.

My take is the same as when I weighed in a week or so ago.

I. Just. Don’t. Know.

What I do know is that for the Today Show’s newest star Coach Satt and the Red & Black Faithful, the possibility remains.

As it does for Boomer Sooner and Rocky Top.

While for Ron Patimkin and Brutus Buckeye, it’s goodbye Columbus . . . goodbye Columbus . . . goodbye . . .

— c d kaplan

2 thoughts on “Season on the Brink

  1. This fight between the P5 leagues has become my most favorite past time since my Pirates suck so bad and baseball is unbearable. I never thought I would be pulling for Paul and the SEC wanks, but I hope that the SEC ACC and Big 12 play foots this fall and waive a middle digit at the high and mighty PAC and BIG as the $$$’s flow in and they go broke….

  2. Lou Holtz in his dotage compare playing football this season was akin to all the brave military. folks who stormed the beach at Normandy

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