Winning isn't everything

Colorado is really in it now, eh? First it's one allegation of rape, then two, three, four and let's throw one more on just yesterday, a police report that surfaces for the first time after years of nobody knowing anything. The smaller issue here is what's going on at Colorado, but the obvious bigger issue is, if it's going on there, how far does it spread and is sex actually used to recruit. And, if sex is a tool, how far will some schools go?

 I was watching the press conference last night and heard that where the powers that be at the University of Colorado put Gary Barnett on what they like to call "Administrative leave".

It was their way of addressing the situation at Colorado until the actual investigation is concluded. What the President had said had prompted her to put Barnett on leave, the straw the broke the camel's back as it were, were the comments of Barnett himself when reporters asked him about the allegations of former CU kicker, Katie Hnida.

She was a "terrible" kicker, Barnett told reporters. She couldn't kick worth the darn and was evidently according to Barnett, taking the spot of other players that deserved it more.

So I guess it's ok if someone raped her then, because it's not like she was any good for them on the field.

That's right, I forgot. She's a she, another point Barnett made in his deluge of one idiotic remark after another. This is a girl we are talking about, not an actual football player.

Barnett did come back after being criticized for those remarks to respond, saying that what he said was misinterpreted.

Misinterpreted? When you are answering questions in the context of a rape allegation, exactly how do you misinterpret you then saying she was a bad player?

On that very feat of insensitivity and obvious ignorance, Barnett shouldn't have been given a leave, he should have been told, 'leave or else..........'.

Chances are, Gary Barnett will soon be former head coach, Gary Barnett, which will in time dull the pain and shock people in that area and at that college are feeling right now over what could end up being one of the more alarming recruiting stories in recent history.

The bad of that is that people will forget this just as they forget anything else that isn't pasted in the papers or on-line or on the TV everyday to remind them of how bad this little "event" really is.

Don't however think that Colorado is alone. Not for an instant. What's happening at Colorado could just as likely be happening at any other major division 1-A program that has to win to stay afloat.

You've seen it in just about every sport there is, but when you look at the big two, that being football and basketball, how many times have we seen some form of this before?

Albert Means taking money? Almost an entire Michigan basketball team basically paid to play? When you talk about using Sex to get recruits, that's not immoral, that's money in the bank.

Why should I as a college pay good money to get this high school kid to come play for me when I can lure him to a hotel room, get him to have sex with some girl that might have been coerced, drugged, duped or paid for it? And, if I am really lucky, she gets pregnant, the player panics, commits because he doesn't know what to do and certainly doesn't want embarrass himself or his family with this little recruiting visit gone awry.

That's not immoral, that's just good business.

Shocked by that? Put off by the sheer possibility of this happening in big time college football? You better go back under that rock you have been residing then, because sports is big business and in big business, if you can get away with it and it works, someone will do it. And if it works for them, someone else is going to do it as well.

I'm not sitting here and saying that when I heard about the allegations of rape at Colorado, I was totally indifferent. Heck yes I was shocked and if any shred of it is proven to be true, you can bet there will be a lot more heads rolling than just that of Gary Barnett's. Hell, fire them all.

We are a world of indifference, however. In that though we might sit with pride that our conscience sees things like this as deplorable and inexcusable, we also know that this isn't the first time we have seen it and it certainly won't be the last.

And again, if it works, someone else will do it.

So what if Colorado got caught. There are plenty of others that could see them not as an example of what not to do, rather an example of particular procedures involved, so that they don't end up on ESPN at 10 o'clock at night, answering questions about why their coach had to be put on leave.

Here's the deal and perhaps the paradox that exists in recruiting. Why are you recruiting kids in a manner that if you heard about a kid doing the exact same thing at another university and it became public, if asked, you would chide the person, the school that recruited them and go on some vainglorious diatribe about self-righteousness saying, 'we only recruit upstanding young men here'?

That's it right there, admit it or not. If I can use sex to get you, I'll do it, but I would insult your character if you did that exact same thing someplace else. If I can pay you and get away with it, no problem, but I'll point a waving finger of disgust at any other school that did it and got caught.

It's not like he actually wants you, but he knows he needs you to win.

You know how some say that it's only a crime if you get caught? Welcome to the world of big-time college football recruiting.

I know that some of you are sitting there and actually think to yourself that it can't be this bad. Colorado is an isolated incident. Certainly not everyone can be like this.

You think?

Ask yourself this then if you think that's true. If Alabama, a program steeped in tradition is willing to pay an insane amount of money to a player when they are already a success, what will some do that are trying to be where Alabama was? If it takes that much to just try and get to the top, what will it take to ultimately upend those teams already there?

What's going on at Colorado is a shock, because in our idealistic minds we want it to be. We never want to admit to ourselves that we have become used to seeing this type of thing. In college, the last vestige of innocence, the last bastion of tradition and how things should be done, we continue to refuse that the professional world and their professional problems has affected the amateur level to the point where you can't tell the difference.

It's done, folks. It's over. The real world isn't like that anymore.

Innocence? It's an idea, and frankly, not one that will probably win you a lot of national titles in the end. That's of course is if you care about that.

After all, winning isn't everything.

Steve Ryan can be reached at or 402-730-5619

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