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Friday, August 29, 2014
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Published: Friday, 10/29/2004

UM vs. OSU, brought to you by hypocrisy

A billionaire wins the lottery. That's Ohio State.

Another billionaire receives an outrageous cash inheritance. That's Michigan.

In what appeared to be another case of the rich getting richer, Ohio State and Michigan announced this week an agreement with telecommunications giant SBC on a two-year contract that would pay each school a total of $530,000 for the naming rights to perhaps the greatest rivalry in college football.

The schools later decicded to nix the deal, a surprising turn of events in an era when greed is not only good, but embraced and celebrated.

Coming to Ohio Stadium on Nov. 20 - plain old Ohio State versus Michigan, instead of the SBC Michigan-Ohio State Classic. Gives you goosebumps, doesn't it?

Spare me the sanctimonious mumbo-jumbo about both schools doing the right thing by backpedaling out of the deal.

Ohio State and Michigan officials sent up a trial balloon to gauge the public's reaction to what appeared to be a bad business decision based on dollars and an incredible lack of common sense.

Public outrage, mostly from Michigan boosters, popped the balloon, resulting in the swift death of the SBC Michigan-Ohio State Classic.

Good. I guess a cool half-million wasn't worth all the negative publicity.

Until the sudden change of heart, the message being delivered at Ohio State and Michigan was disturbing: Everything has a price.

In what looked like a classic example of "Do as I say, not as I do," people in power at Ohio State and Michigan were telling their student-athletes to act one way while they behaved completely the opposite.

If I were a football player at Ohio State or Michigan, I'd have my hand out. I'd want my cut, too. I'm putting my body on the line, risking permanent injury, and I don't receive a dime?

No sense sugar-coating the truth. Why don't we finally accept major-college football for what it really is? It's the NFL minus the salary cap.

Cheap labor keeps the profit-margin high. For the tidy sum of a scholarship, schools generate multiple millions off the sweat of these young men - many of whom never graduate or reach the NFL.

How can we in good conscience turn up our noses when stories surface regarding college athletes receiving money or other illegal gifts from people associated with the athletic program?

How can we then turn around and grant people in positions of authority a free pass when they attempt to push something like the SBC Michigan-Ohio State Classic on the public?

Thank goodness that didn't happen this time.

A coach unexpectedly leaves one school to take a job at another school. He leaves behind miffed players that he personally recruited and empty promises. We look the other way because he's doing what's best for his family.

A player decides to transfer because of a lack of playing time. It's not working out between him and his coach. We call him selfish and disloyal.

To make a long story short, the SBC Michigan-Ohio State Classic is history. That's the best news I've heard all week.

Unfortunately, there's always a next time. Let's hope that the next time, OSU and UM officials think long and hard before they make a bottom-line decision.



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