While watching the myriad of college bowl games this holiday season, many of them between teams that have no business being in bowl games at all, please step back and ponder who the winners and losers of this system are.

My high-school friend David Wise takes a critical look at college football in a Real Clear Sports article proclaims it’s Time for Colleges to Rein In Football

Since 1985 college tuition has increased nationally by 498 percent compared with 115 percent for prices overall – an unsustainable bubble. Higher education commentators Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus have commented that a large portion of this additional college tuition revenue is being funneled into athletics and not towards education. Over the same time the average compensation of public college football coaches has increased 750 percent compared with 32 percent for professors. The two colleges that will play for the BCS championship this season spend $1,320 per every member of the student body ($204,919 per player) to support the football programs.

In the words of Dr. James J. Duderstadt, the former president of the University of Michigan, athletics “has drifted so far from the educational purpose of the university. They exploit young people and prevent them from getting a legitimate college education. … We are supposed to be developing human potential, not making money on their backs.”

And the failure of colleges is not just in things such as the whopping 51 percent disparity between the graduation rates of African-American and white players on last year’s BCS champion Auburn Tigers or the combined 34 percent graduation rate for all players on the 2005 champion the Texas Longhorns. Colleges and the education system in general are failing young men who at age 22 graduate at the rate of 100 males for every 187 females.

In a time of crushing state government deficits and student loan debt, it makes absolutely no sense for American universities to operate as free farm systems for the NFL and NBA. At a time when the American competitive position in the world is under more stress than ever, we cannot allow our universities – an area in which American still holds undisputed world leadership – to erode. Rather than have the NFL subsidize college sports, a cure that would be worse than the disease, there are other options.

The low point this year is to be found in the “Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl,” which features two teams whose seasons were so disastrous that they both just fired their head coaches and one team, UCLA, which enters the bowl game with a losing record.

This year it is possible that almost a third of the games (10 out of 35) could end up with a so-called “bowl team” with a losing season. And some collection of attorneys general out there should examine whether the Supreme Court’s prohibition against “horizontal restraint” in the 1984 landmark case NCAA v. The Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma is being observed.

Who are the Winners and Losers?

Wise points out that of the 30,000 kids in college football, only abut 310 are ever seriously considered for the NFL.

The rest may get passing grades, but how many of them actually get an education? We all hear that bowl games are “big money makers” but for who?

In the “Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl”, Illinois 6-6 just fired its coach. UCLA 6-7 just fired its coach. Both states are financial basket cases.

Both schools will probably sustain large losses participating in these useless bowls that should not even be held. Taxpayers of Illinois and California will make up the difference.

I propose a name change from the “Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl” to the “Tidy Toilet Bowl” because both teams belong in the toilet, not in bowl games. No matter who wins, one team is sure to end up with a losing season and taxpayers of both states will foot the bill for this monstrosity.

Please consider the winners and losers in the current setup.

Who Loses?
The students
The Players
Teachers who are quasi-forced to give passing grades to kids so they can stay eligible

Who Wins?
The NFL who avoids having a farm system
College coaches and their staff who make preposterous salaries

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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