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The overcast skies of Pennsylvania accent the humid air, and the smell of the grass makes the skin on the back of your neck tingle. The mud on the field smells of mold, the dirty pool of rainwater is a breeding ground for anything primordial.
No one is watching, all that is on the field is a hand-me-down pigskin, re-stitched and re-laced, a leather piece of nostalgia that had been cared for and given a life of its own for generations. Picking up the ball sends shocks up your arm, then across your shoulders and down your spine.
You don't have a choice, you are now the game.
Not only are you the game, the game is you. The fusion of mind, body, spirit and football has now created a freak of nature.
This is the game, this is what we love. The electricity of sport is a force of nature that is no respector of persons, picking and choosing at random, but converting whomever it touches to sports. For every physical freak of nature, there is someone who believes he can find a way to pick up the table scraps, and the scraps stack up like chips in Las Vegas.
The problem that pervades the NCAA is money. The saying "money is the root of all evil," doesn't go far enough. Cash is KING. Collegiate athletics is further down in the quicksand than ever before and is sucking the ethics and values out of athletes today.
Many questions arise such as, do we care? As a fan, would you trade a five-year run, with two championships and toss in a Heisman or two, only to have it ripped away a few years done the road?
The obvious answer is a resounding, "Yes, we do care. It should be done the right way." But if we are all honest with ourselves, wouldn't we at least entertain the idea?
If we don't care, pare down the rule book and allow players to do commercials, sell jerseys, or sign autographs. Let them make their own brand.
If we do care, drop the darn hammer.
Miami is the best example right now. The list of violations is so extensive that its greatest critique is silence.
If the NCAA has a shred of integrity, or a shred of authority left over by the BCS, make an example of Miami. Their program is done. Anyone that disagrees about that, take it up with SMU.
As the only team to receive the proverbial "death penalty," SMU has the ability to shed some light on what should happen to programs that flagrantly flaunt their violations.
SMU lost two full seasons and did not make a bowl game until this last year. A 20-year ban seems like a timeout compared to the violations that have occurred and the punishment that should be met out to the "U".
One argument is that "everyone does it." This is a valid point, any team that tries to go strait can be blackmailed and they are back to square one.
To find a solution, you have to know the problem. It all comes down to money. You can't expect the players to turn down more money than they have ever seen in their life.
This problem comes from the top down. Teams are selling out to make a title run. That title run equals dollar signs. More enroll in classes, increasing tuition, more merchandise sales, and millions from bowl games.
The simple answer is hit the universities from the top down. If you pay players or are in violation of NCAA compliance rules, you pay it all back.
A championship run can equal hundreds of millions of dollars in increased revenue. If you get caught, yes you will lose the title, but you will pay back the fans and people that have been damaged.
Punitive punishment to the institution itself will put a halt to all the blind eyes that have been turned. If a university is caught, they pay back all the revenue they made from that season.
If they had to pay $100 million, guess what? The coaches would be more compliant. One other idea, make it a federal felony for a booster to pay a player. And if a player is caught, they lose their amateur status and can no longer play.
As much as it pains the purists, part of the answer has to be immunity. We know 95 percent of teams cheat. Set a date when the policy comes into effect, nullifying any illicit actions prior to that date. And anyone that violates it, pay it back with interest, and a minimum of a five-year ban.
In the past, the NCAA has held the schools in check. As demonstrated with recent scandals, the NCAA can't handle the flood of corruption that is about to burst. Teams and schools have had to hide from the NCAA for years, now it's time the NCAA is on watch by the fans.
Social media, amateur writing, blogging and the dreaded TMZ, are now the watchdogs for the typical sports fans.
It's time they recognize that the average American wants to win the right way.
Jonathan Boldt is the Assistant Sports Editor at Utah Valley University, and can be reached at (801) 830-5652 or email@example.com Follow him on Twitter @jboldt24