Thursday, June 10, 2010

I Want A Name When I Lose

I'll take the blame. Yes, it is my fault that USC's football program suffered a severe penalty at the hands of the NCAA - two-year bowl game ban, forfeited wins, etc.

I try not to speak of luck or fate. Or even that indefatigable undefinable standby, karma. I'll talk about probability and random flux and likelihood. And of course the stuff that happens due to clearly seen and understood reasons (e.g., not washing ones hands -> spread of bacteria -> unhappy society).

So how do we explain the undeniable fact that every institution of higher education that I attend or work for suffers a major scandal or loss in one or more of its athletic programs. Looking backwards:

USC football: It's ugly. It's likely well deserved. The cheating was pretty blatant. But remember: I was hired with one game left in the 2005 season. The Trojans had won the 2004 national championship. The Saturday after I started working for the Family, we crushed UCLA in a game so decisive my friends on the Westside couldn't even make eye contact with me. Then, it imploded. "We" lost to Texas in the Rose Bowl early in '06. Then the bad losses to teams from the Pacific Northwest (it hurts to say it.) Yes, it all happened because they hired me and it will continue until someone buys the screenplay (for a lot of money) or the MacArthur Grant works out. (Note: one more thing: didn't the whole Pete Carroll unites a city and creates a gang truce while not drinking water seem a bit ridiculous to anyone other than me?

USC basketball: Shady Blagojovich-esque coach (allegedly) hands envelope full of cash to young superstar with infamous first two initials and friendship with extremely short minor rapper from Beverly Hills. Scholarships are given to each of the two players. Then, NCAA sanctions a bit less brutal than those the footballers got.

Minnesota basketball: In 1997, months after after I began grad school at my old alma mater, several players on my favorite school's favorite sport's team were rumored to have cheated - a lot - on academic papers. Vague tales were told about a backup point guard from the Lakota tribe in North Dakota and how he took on a hoarse-voiced ostrich farmer from Kentucky. So yeah we made the Final Four in 1997. Except we didn't - all victories forfeited.

Cal-State-Fullerton football: During my two years getting my career-delaying masters degree (but gaining a rather memorable and informative education on psychology - that faculty was solid), the school's Academic Senate voted to end the football program. The school president fought the move but eventually the team was gone, a year after I too was gone, a minor deity soaring up the 57 freeway past Diamond Bar, past San Dimas, toward America.

Cal-State-Fullerton basketball: Some time around the midpoint of my CSUF career, this guy arrived to play basketball. Yes, one of my schools was partly responsible for that blighted period (2003 to 2007) when the NBA was nearly ruined by one team (the San Antonio Spurs) and when you get right down to it, the Spurs were unwatchable because of one man - yep, him

Minnesota basketball: In January 1986, months after I arrived on the overly brick campus, three players were charged with sexual assault in Madison, Wisconsin. They were later acquitted. But if I remember correctly, at the time this was considered a huge scandal. The team, the university, the city, and the state all seemed embarrassed. That winter quarter, the campus just seemed numbed and chastened, the sex scandal combining with brutal cold to crush one's spirit. I, on the other hand, coasted to my very first 4.0 college term (on 21 credits!) and have barely strayed from higher education since.

Penn State-Ogontz and Normandale College: I speak only in whispers of my first year of college - at the delightfully hilly suburban Philadelphia satellite campus (for freshmen and sophomores only) of the Pennsylvania State University system. But yeah I was there. And yes I performed poorly. Then, the family shuttled itself to Minnesota and I ended up at the quaint fake-named Normandale College and my GPA improved and my hair got too big. What's the sports connection? Both schools disbanded all of their team athletics programs during and after my time there. (Bonus fact: I was THE sportswriter for the Normandale College paper, The Lion.)

Why me? What did I do to create all that upheaval? Nothing. It's just that this blog needed content. And no one else but me is around to provide it. It's just a coincidence. I mean, how do I even fit in Fullerton's 1995 and 2004 baseball championships or five U of M hockey titles (in both genders!) during and just after my tenure there? You see, I hadn't written much of note lately and I used my time-honored gimmick of writing in a encyclopedia-like "multiple entries" list style. Excessive? Sure but are you still reading?

1 comment:

Jason said...

When did I start at UNLV? 1991.