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Established October 31, 1996
Front Page Columns and Features
Last updated: 02/25/2011 7:39 PM

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The Week That Was
By Tony Gerdeman

There's not a lot of important things going on in the world of college football right now. Fortunately, I exist mostly on the unimportant planes. (By the way, the "unimportant plains" is what we should refer to Nebraska as from now on, don't you think?)

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The biggest news of the week--in the smallest corner of the world--was that Penn State will quite likely be tweaking their football uniforms.

Apparently deemed "too exciting" by the decision-makers, the trim around the sleeves and neck will be removed so that the jerseys will be one solid color. The home uniforms will be solid guh, and the road uniforms will be solid meh.

In other words, they will be wearing practice uniforms.

My guess is that Joe Paterno woke up one morning recently and asked where all of this fancy bell and whistle on the uniforms came from. After being informed that the trim had been on the jerseys for years, Paterno no doubt ordered them immediately removed.

Then he made Matt McGloin drink vast quantities of nerve tonic.

Imagine Nike sitting down with Joe Paterno to show him mock-ups and power point presentations of what they'd like to do with Penn State's uniforms. Oh, to be a fly on the davenport for that meeting.

Actually, that meeting took place last year, and we're apparently seeing the repercussions of somebody daring to suggest another stripe or two somewhere.

I picture Joe Paterno standing on his porch with shotgun in hand. Nike's green, yellow, white, silver and black stretch Hummer pulls up in front of his house, and a suit steps out. Paterno cocks his shotgun, and the suit gets right back in the hideous monstrosity and the Hummer leaves with haste.

As if we needed any further proof that Penn State wasn't Oregon. Heck, in the time it takes Paterno to wobble his head back and forth and warble an "Ehhhhh", while thinking of a response to a question, Chip Kelly has already granted seventeen halftime interviews.

In the end, you can't mess with something so iconic, and you can't mess with Penn State's boring uniforms either.

*** ***

After an 8-5 season (and 3-5 in conference play), Texas Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville was given a $500,000 raise. As is generally the case when somebody gets a raise, others who feel they should have also gotten a raise (but didn't) are upset.

This time it's Texas Tech's professors.

"Tech nixed $3 million in faculty raises to absorb an 8-percent reduction in state funding already in effect, and the freeze doesn’t show any sign of thaw in early budget drafts out of Austin."

So since one group isn't getting a raise, they don't feel anybody should. Even if Tuberville was deemed underpaid to begin with, and actually brought money in.

"Tech president Guy Bailey said Friday the school was fulfilling a promise it made to Tuberville a year ago when it hired him at 'less than market value.'”

"Bailey told Tuberville they would consider tweaking his contract after a season’s worth of season ticket sales, which set records last fall."

I always enjoy the discussion about the balance between academics and athletics. After all, these are still academic institutions, and their first instinct should always be the academic side of things.

In that same vein (or vain), colleges compete to be the best they can be in most everything they do. It's this attitude that drives most of what goes on at a university. So why is this attitude frowned upon in athletics, where money is actually brought in, instead of thrown out?

So many people seem to simply bristle at the numbers without actually considering what those numbers are for.

“Regardless of the specifics of the money flow, there’s still a question of the symbolism of what this says about the university’s priorities,” said John Curtis, director of research and public policy at the American Association of University Professors, a faculty advocacy group in Washington.

“If you’re at a time of cutting academic programs or freezing or cutting salaries for faculty and other employees and you have a raise for the football coach — even if the money is there — it sends a completely wrong signal about where the priorities of the university are.”

The key in that entire rant was "even if the money is there". The money is there for a reason, and, no offense, but it's not because of a history professor who's been at Texas Tech since 1983, nor is it because of his Saab.

The symbolism that Curtis talks about flies in the face of the symbolism that he holds so dear. That's why he's uncomfortable with it. The dust-covered bookshelves, tweeded intellectuals, and talk for the sake of talk, these are the symbols of college that he prefers.

That's fine, but it limits what college is actually about. In the end, isn't college actually about being limitless, whether it be opportunities, choices, experiences, or potential?

Until professors start giving portions of their salary back after a disappointing football season, they should probably just stay out of the discussion altogether.

If faculty wants to equate their salaries with athletics, then make it a two-way street. If they want to share in the successes, then they should also share in the failures. 

If they think a pay freeze is bad, how would they feel about a decrease after Texas Tech football goes 5-7 next year?

Or maybe the anthropology department can fund track and field for a year.

Perhaps the English lit department can be responsible for bringing in millions in donations from alumni around the world and do it without baked goods for a change.

The Texas Tech faculty is complaining about the golden goose, while also complaining about the golden eggs.

Then they get upset when the golden goose dares get fed a higher level of grain in order to produce a higher grade of golden egg.

Should that money go to the biology lab? Cancer research? Better dorms? Sure, but those things already have funding, but from the outside.

Sports brings in money. It's probably been that way since the Socratic Method was actually practiced by Socrates himself.

*** ***

Despite how this may look, Rich Rodriguez is not Oklahoma's new director of strength and conditioning.

The Sooners have reported to the NCAA that assistant coaches have improperly questioned players about voluntary offseason workouts. They have also reported that some players have been working out more than the eight hours allowed per week.

Like Rodriguez's situation at Michigan, a squeaky wheel had to get the greasing going.

"An initial investigation began when a Sooner player approached OU’s compliance director with a recording of defensive backs coach Willie Martinez asking why the player had missed a voluntary workout. The player also refused to sign a workout log."

How is this any different than Michigan's situation? There are no hateful newspapers in Oklahoma, apparently.

*** ***

For the third time since Harvey Updyke's arrest for poisoning the trees on Toomer's Corner, his court-appointed attorney has asked to be removed from the case.

The latest attorney stated that an "irreconcilable conflict arose" between he and his client.

At this rate, Updyke is going to have to represent himself, which will be the most entertaining thing that human eyes will have ever seen!

At some point you just know he'll rip his shirt off and challenge the jury to a fight.

His cross examination will consist of him flipping double birds.

This would be one of those things you'd record over your wedding tape for.

Heck, this would be one of those things you'd miss your wedding for.

*** ***

By the way, has anyone heard anybody at ESPN railing the NCAA's decision to let Jim Calhoun's three-game suspension begin next year instead of immediately, or do they just do that in football?

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