Paging Justin Boren … Mr. Boren … call for Justin Boren … your coach is on the line…
In the wake of the resignation of Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel on Monday comes a thought about the only guy to have played at both OSU and the University of Michigan during the latest phase of the storied Buckeye–Wolverine rivalry that has, like just about every aspect of bigtime college sports in recent decades, fallen into shameful disgrace and petulance and an absurd hatred unworthy of these schools, their teams, the tradition, or the very game of college football.
Forget what they tell you on the sports pages or — more importantly — disregard the way old-school rivalries are portrayed in beer and lifestyle commercials joyously broadcast across the land; where smiling and upwardly-mobile old grads walk arm-in-arm out of the stadium after the annual Big Game — there IS nothing worth savoring nor saving any longer in the famed local matchups of UM-OSU, or UM-MSU, or Alabama and Auburn, or USC vs. UCLA, or Texas and Oklahoma … all the way down the hotly-contested lines.
They have fallen to shameful levels. In one old college town, a legendary and historic TREE was destroyed with poison by alleged fans of the school’s arch-rival university.
Like most things in our country these days, the value of these contests exist only in the pocket books of the universities and the advertisers who make big bucks celebrating them via mass communication. Whatever original value existed in amateur competitions like Michigan versus Ohio State has dissipated, declined, been pushed to the edge of extinction in the wake of rivalries that have fallen to the level of a million drunks on one side of the virtual line of scrimmage … wildly giving the finger to a million drunks on the other, who extend their digits in return and attempt to scream “*%#@ You!” at a higher decibel rate than their opponents; two gangs of skirmishers who seem forever-ready to replace front-line finger-extenders who have collapsed in alcoholic stupors before their Saturday-long hatefests have laid them low for yet another year.
Do they still sing their school’s alma mater at the big game anymore?
Oh yeah, there are those — so cute — news stories of dentist’s offices where the doctor wears scarlet all week and his office manager is in blue … or families where granny stubbornly wears her green and white for the big game while her husband of 129 years-or- so proudly staggers around in maize and blue on game day … but that stuff is basically out the window, or at least on its way there.
The concept of amateur sports that pit young people of similar backgrounds and shared interests against each other in honest and healthy competition, with the COMPETITION — remember that, ducky? — being the thing … is long, long gone. Where differences disappear when the final whistle blows, where “bragging rights” in local settings stop a thousand miles short of where obscene language and gestures and a kick and a drunken fistfight angrily begin these days … that ‘good old days’ concept of college sports no longer exists.
We’re talking college match-ups, amateur competitions, where STUDENTS attempt to give their all for their school as a part of their continuing education. Think of that concept pulled into the astonishing frenzy and million-dollar competitions of today’s college football rivalries, and its talk of payoffs and hatred and bribes. Ca-razy.
If you think these are absurd warnings, or hysterical complaints, go to any internet sports site that that allows public discussion of, say, the Tressel situation. Check out what happens when the first “Buckeyes suck!” or other such deep insights are thrown into the mix … usually within the first three or four opinions … and watch the true nature of modern athletic ‘competition’ in today’s America reveal itself. Watch the modern American MIND such as it is, reveal itself.
Or, better yet, go to Columbus Ohio on a day when a rivalry-game is being played … and wear the colors of the opposing school. Be my guest. You will get educated instantly. You will not encounter friendly competition; nor even non-violent reaction. You WILL be assaulted, in a variety of ways.
Of course, OSU is an easy target, with their coach resigning under a cloud of suspicion … and because they very likely ARE the worst offenders of common decency in bigtime college athletics in our nation’s Midwest. Still they are not alone, and outrages continue to be exhibited all across college sports. I’ve been on the receiving end of physical assaults, spittle, flying foam, and in-your-face obscenities screamed by students at some of our highly-regarded centers of learning. Speaking of spoken explosions, they relate directly to Justin Boren, who was called out at the opening of this piece,
Boren is the son of a Michigan alumnus and football player. He, too, played at U-M, following in the old man’s shoes, in the 2006 and ’07 college seasons. Despite being 6 feet 3’ and 310 pounds, he was apparently a really sensitive kid. Because after Lloyd Carr left as UM’s head coach he was replaced by Rich Rodriquez, who has been accused by Boren (either Rodriquez or somebody on his staff) of using obscenities like !%^$#% and &^%$#! — especially &^%$#! (try saying that fast three times in a row) — which apparently broke young Justin’s heart and drove him to play for a nicer man, the apparently clean-talking Jim Tressel, in Columbus, Ohio.
Boren famously cited the “family values” that Tressel instilled in his program as his major reason for joining that Buckeye gang of great guys. (As opposed to Michigan’s foul-mouthed bunch of !%#&%%s. )
And I just had to … HAD to … being the smart-*## that I am … inquire in print today as to how Boren (who suffered another hurt to his sensitive hide when he wasn’t drafted by the NFL after a successful senior season) must feel about Tressel’s resignation, which seems to affirm long-held suspicions of a compromised program that has offered payoffs and cars and questionable perks of all kinds for Buckeye recruits during the Tressel reign.
Are you out there, Justin? Any reaction … hmm? Even an obscene one?
—If you’re a fan of UM, you may feel a sense of ’gotcha’ about this.
—If you’re a fan of MSU, you may wish a pox on both their houses — OSU and UM –in light of this latest controversy.
—If you’re a fan of OSU, you may wish to tell me to shove this column up my !&$*%#! (That’s an actual exclamation point there at the end.)
Which brings me to my final point … that if my three summations are correct, or close to being right, they may show that I’m correct in my claims. College football and the rivalries they engendered, which the game once lovingly embraced … are out of control … run by people who may themselves be out of control, concerned only with winning at any and all costs.
Somebody ought to drop a blind devotion to their own old schools, and begin doing something really meaningful about it.