Jay Paterno is a refreshing novelty. A college football coach who writes a column tackling relevant subject matter in a direct, forthright manner. His latest discusses Terrelle Pryor and makes the salient point in this mess. Pryor is a kid and he’s the natural product of a system created by adults.
During the current NCAA investigation, it has been easy for members of the media to vilify a young man for mistakes he made. The decisions and the path he chose were all a result of behavior that was learned from adults.
It is not instinct; it is learned behavior.
Where else in the world can a 17- or 18-year-old get a national television audience to tell everyone where he is going to college? What are we telling these young men? We grant them an inflated sense of their self-importance, and then we are surprised when they believe the hype we created for them.
Where I would disagree with JayPa is that there’s “an inflated sense of their self-importance.” Terrelle Pryor knew exactly how important he was to Ohio State, television networks, media outlets local businesses and everyone else deriving profit from that program. His fault was not being tactful about it.
College football is a professional sport. Schools bring in professional-level revenue from gate receipts, TV and sponsors. Many coaches earn as much if not more than they could earn coaching professionally. Players are treated in all senses except payment as professional athletes. Just this week the Pac 12 and ESPN had Matt Barkley and Darron Thomas in Bristol running through the car wash and promoting the brand.
Is this the ideal situation? Nope. But, it’s time to deal with reality, rather than utopian visions. The system is flawed, but there’s too much money involved to turn back to amateurism. Coaches don’t want to be paid on par with college professors, nor do network employees.
College football players are paid, have been paid for a long time and will continue to be paid as long as scores are kept and wins are awarded. In the six months since he season ended, virtually every major program has come under some sort of scrutiny. Combatting this fact with empty appeals for morality and selective enforcement is like trying to eradicate Internet porn. The virus has spread. The effort is futile and punishing one arbitrarily for the sins of many is unfair. It’s time for college football to optimize its rules for the sport being regulated.
[Photo via Getty]